Whether it's on the bus, on the toilet, when we lay in bed, or when sit down and actually take some time, most people read when they can; wherever they can. But with our lives growing busier by the day, the things we read get shorter and shorter. Is this a good or a bad thing? Let's take a deep dive into the subject...
Trends, markets, and... games?
With a plethora of articles on the internet stating the average attention span of an adult human being was measured at around 12 seconds in 2000, and less than 8 seconds in 2015, it's easy to assume that the reason our stories are getting shorter is that we are becoming less able to commit to something longer. But what if I told you that the length of the things we read has nothing to do with the evolution of the human brain?
The reason we are currently swimming in things like novella's, novelettes, webcomics, or ongoing Wattpad stories, is basically because the algorithms of the internet have picked up on the popularity of short and snappy content. And you know what happens when an algorithm decides something has turned into a trend: it actually turns into a trend. The more something gains momentum, the more something becomes reality. It should be no surprise that for this very reason, short stories have become a thing in our lives. But you may wonder how this all got started...
Evolution takes time... But when did it happen?
Well, it's not easy to answer that question. In fact, I think this is a process that's been going on for several years already. Ask yourself this: when did you start committing to tv-series rather than films? When did you decide to buy a book because it was a good size that would fit in your bag whilst being on public transport? When did you start playing a game because it was practically feeding you one part of the story after another, one DLC at a time?
I know for me, this was around 2014, when Bungie (and at the time Activision) launched a game called Destiny. With the main story wrapped in the original base game, newer, shorter stories were told through smaller expansions that would release throughout the next year and onward. In fact, when they started their Seasonal model in 2017, the grand narrative was chopped into even smaller bits until finally in 2021, they started to implement their seasonal storylines through weekly episodes that would drip feed you the story through short and immersive missions. To this day, this is in my opinion, the biggest evolution storytelling has gone through over the years. Especially considering that the same thing happened when movies started to make way for series. With a collection of 40-minute episodes, a much larger story could be told without breaking minds with a movie that would last anywhere between 3 and 12 hours. Be honest with me here: if the extended version of The Lord of the Rings was 1 movie, you wouldn't have watched it, either.
Today, the market for short stories is bigger than it's ever been. With vendors like Kindle Vella, Wattpad, Medium, or even Raddish, a world of short story volumes has opened up to us, often luring us in with snappy blurbs and loglines. In fact, even books are picking up on seasonal models like I just mentioned above. Authors write a collection of novellas/novelettes and release them over the course of a couple of months. Then, the author takes the time to assess the sales and trending opportunities, and starts writing the "sequel" to their series, to release it in a second season some months after. So very much like your favorite tv-show or your favorite game, books are evolving too, adapting to our wishes when it comes to reading any time, anywhere. For me, this is a good thing, as it enables my readers to pick up my stories and read them whenever and wherever they can. I mean, would there be a season 2 of The Singularian Grimoire Anthologies if the first season hadn't been a success?
A healthy discussion
I'm sure there are people who agree with me as much as there will be people disagreeing with me. Let me know what you think about the trend of short stories, novellas, and novelettes in the comments to get a healthy discussion up and running.
Tags: #shortreads #DestinyTheGame #Destiny2 #kindle #vella #wattpad #raddish #medium #attention #reading #amreading #ReaderCommunity #WritingCommunity #Netflix #AmazonPrime #PrimeVideo #reading #evolution