Our new short story, Steam Heat, is now available! It’s 7700 words and very spicy!
At the Gaslight Bazaar, a Steampunk convention, Trey Lewis is teased and fascinated by glimpses of a man in leather pants. When he sets out to find the wearer, he discovers Joss Stephens, a quiet, reserved coworker from his computer firm. Trey never thought he and Joss had anything in common, but getting to know Joss away from the office ignites an unexpected heat between them, which leads to a steamy encounter and the beginnings of romance.
This story has been added to our Short Story page. You can find the rest of the Charity Sip Blitz works here. Please stop by and take a look! All proceeds from these stories will be donated to NOH8, and Torquere Press will match the authors’ proceeds.
And now for some meta…
Writing this story was an interesting challenge for us, primarily because it had a hard 8,000 word max limit.
When we were writing in fandom, we tended to produce long, multi-chaptered works because we rarely ever had limitations on word count. We didn’t have to worry about cutting large chunks of the story or keeping our plot and dialogue tight. We could just let things flow as we pleased, so for us, editing involved checking for SPAG, and that was about it.
When we got serious about writing original works and began focusing on Calls for Submissions, we were suddenly faced with *GASP!* word count limits. For us, 12,000 words was a chapter, and we had to find a way to tell a whole story in that amount of words.
Not gonna lie: it was tough at first! “Once And Future Love” wasn’t so bad because we had 18,000 words to play with, and our first draft came in under that mark. The second story we wrote (which hasn’t been accepted anywhere yet) had a 12,000 word limit. Our first draft came in at 16,000 words. Ouch.
But we took a deep breath and found a way to cut those 4,000 words, and while we weren’t entirely happy about some of the casualties, we were ruthless.
When we looked at the Charity Sip Blitz, we were both interested in giving it a shot, but we’d thought a 12,000 word limit was bad enough. Could we possibly manage 8,000? We started thinking about what it would take to keep things that brief. Minimal plot, not a lot of talking. It would be tough, since we tend to favor plotty stories with dialogue (okay, I’ll admit it: our characters tend to get talky on us).
It was Ari who came up with the Steampunk angle, because leather and Steampunk go hand in hand, and with some brainstorming, we came up with a solid idea that we thought would work. Leather pants would be the focal point, and the guys would already know each other, which would eliminate the need for any lengthy “getting to know you” conversations.
Our first draft was less than 300 words over the limit. Huzzah! It only took cutting some adverbs, tweaking the wording to make it tighter, and other minor nips and tucks to get it under 8k, and we felt a sense of accomplishment at telling such a tight story.
Writing shorter works has been a valuable learning experience for both of us. It’s taught us to be more ruthless in our editing, taught us to judge what’s necessary and what could be eliminated, and helped us tighten our prose. We both still love the freedom of an unlimited word count, but I think our novel-length works will be better for what we’ve learned with the shorter works this year.