Friday, December 7, 2018

A Short Note about Novellas

Novellas a are a novel idea but they are often misused or misidentified making readers frustrated. Generally speaking, a novella is longer than a short story but shorter than a full novel. This is the only thing that people seem to agree on about them. Some sources say that a novella is 7,500 to 40,000 words, other sources list a novella as 30,000 to 60,000 words. Some of the confusion is that there is no concrete rule about how long a novel is. 

The general rule is that short stories are less than 7,500 words while novels are generally 80,000 to 90,000 words (according to Writer's Digest).  This does not take into consideration things like YA novels which tend to run shorter (averaging 55,000 to 80,000 words) or Sci-fi and Fantasy which tends to run longer (averaging 100,000 to 115,000). The fluidness of what defines the length of a novel only adds to the confusion of how to define the length of a novella. 

Copyright Writer's Digest
The use of novellas is also something that few authors seem to agree on. When novellas were first introduced they were stand-alone stories and published as an anthology of work by a single author. Today some are stand-alone works, while others are prequels or connector books between different series. Regardless of the style, they can be published as an anthology by several authors and focused on a central theme, or as a single work. Unscrupulous authors will publish novellas and advertise them as full novels, often putting snippets of other work behind the novella or short story in a practice referred to as book stuffing. 

Novellas are not generally as complex as a full novel because of their smaller size. The smaller word count means that there is less space for multiple points of view, complex plots, and other literary devices. The story is more straightforward and to the point. This is part of what makes them attractive as a way to add a tangent story which ties into an existing series or for an after the fact prequel. The short and straightforward format has also become popular for authors who are trying to link reader's from one series to another. I am not personally a fan of this type of usage although it has more to do with stories themselves than the format. 

Do you prefer novellas or novels? Let me know in the comments.