Next up in my running series on my writing is novellas. A little like flash fiction, I’d never really heard of novellas before Phoenix Writers and Alt Fiction. I just called them ‘short stories’ and thought nothing of it. However, the agreed word length of a novella seems to be 15,000 to 20,000 words. There are also – according to some – pieces called ‘novelettes’ but that just seems excessive to me. Break it down any more and there will be a different name for every length of story going and that is too complex a thing to keep track of.
I’ve read a lot of novellas. They seem to be a quick way into the Amazon self published book lists and, a bit like short stories, they are quick and easy (relatively) to fire off with reasonable frequency. In the same way, not all of them are good, but there is a hell of a lot more freedom than in a short story, to tell a complex story without committing to the mammoth word counts expected in a novel.
Unless I wanted to saturate the ebook market with my writings, however, I can’t see that there is a hell of a lot of point in this medium for me. Frankly put, if I’m going to write something longer, I may as well take the time to write a novel, and if I want to churn out stories at a great pace, I have short stories and flash to play with.
Despite saying that, it has recently been suggested to me that novellas are a way to introduce characters in a series. Not in the style of Charlene Harris and Laurell Hamilton who have upwards of ten novels in their series (which are both still running I believe), but in a smaller fashion. Unfortunately I haven’t got any examples of anybody who has done this with any level of success that this highlights a gap in my research that I need to fill.
I did write a novella once. Or I intended it to be so. And, typically, what has happened is that I’ve written it to a nice safe point, but there are lots of plot hooks that I dribbled in through the course of the tale which leads me (and an unsuspecting reader) to assume that there is more coming. The fact that I did this without thinking makes me give credence to the idea that a series is possible. Even if nobody else has tried it, it might be something to do somewhere down the line.
Have you guys ever tried writing something you were unsure about? A length and/or style that you were unsure had a home in the current literary market? What did you do about it? I love hearing your stories. 🙂