My Writing: Novellas


black notebook and red pencil from OpenClipArtNext 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. 🙂

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About Ileandra Young

I'm a thirty-*mumbles* year old (purple loving, cheese worshipping) author of fantasy, juggling a pair of beautiful twin boys with my burning desire to make up stories and write them all down. When I get the chance, I play games, listen to music, and in days long past I even ran a radio show. Though I occasionally write non-fiction, my heart lives in fantasy and my debut novel, Silk Over Razor Blades is now available through Amazon along with part two of the trilogy, Walking The Razor's Edge.
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5 Responses to My Writing: Novellas

  1. I’ve considered writing shirt stories though I didn’t realize there were so many subdivisions of the term. I am not usually a fan of them unless I’ve read a book and the characters are established. I like feeling connected to characters and am very sad when novels end, let alone a short story/novella. That being said, I cannot say I am against them. In school we read many shorts that interested me and it might be a good challenge to create new scenes and characters. If you like them, they might actually become a novel worthy story 🙂 if not, then they had their place for a short time at least :).

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    • Funny you say that though, since I think short stories are the sort of thing you’d be good at!
      The way we play over at the Ice Wolf, for instance is a little bit of flash over and over again and some of our posts (I’m thinking TOE) are just about the right length to be classed as short stories. :p

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  2. jmmcdowell says:

    I suspect the novel that I have out for beta review is too different—and that the story I want to tell isn’t what modern readers want. If making the book “marketable” means writing a story that isn’t in my heart, I’ll shelve it. We have to write for ourselves first, right?

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    • Yes! I said that at my Tuesday group this week and got a very odd look. Maybe people are in it for money (o.O) but I’m not. Or rather, I’d LOVE to make some money from what I enjoy so much, but I’m realistic about it. Since I’m unlikely to make millions and millions from anything I write, I may as well have fun writing it!

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  3. Pingback: My Writing: Intro | Writing: A Conversation Without Interruptions

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