What is a Novella and should I write one?


What is a Novella?

A Novella is a short novel, usually between 20,000 and 50,000 words in length.

Should I write one?

Yes. Well in fact I already have. This post is really a personal reflection on why I and potentially other indie authors tend to deny that the products of their hard work are actually novellas and NOT novels.

I released my first book Ruthless in February 2014. The book is the first in a supernatural-action trilogy and it took me three long years to write (mainly because I didn’t do it very often).

It comes in at an underwhelming 48,888 words- including the dedication, acknowledgements, etc. When I gave it to friends to proof read, the faster readers of the group finished it in less than a day. Although that was extremely handy for me and my proofing process, it also felt like a kick in the guts –three years of writing, condensed into just a few hours of reading.

Being a brand spanking new author didn’t help. I felt like I had something to prove. I told people it was a novel, I marketed it as a novel and I defined it as a novel.

It is not a novel. It is a novella but now I realise that is a good thing!

There are some fantastic novellas out there and many of the classics you will know:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (166 pages): This novel about an ambitious scientist who conducts an unorthodox experiment and creates a “monster” is an early example of gothic horror writing during the Romantic period.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (55 pages): No one should miss Kafka’s tale of a man who wakes up one morning to discover that he has been transformed into a gigantic bug.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (180 pages):For those of you who haven’t read this book, get to it! It’s only 180 pages. This classic, referred to by some as “the Great American Novel” is about a man who lets his love obsession get the better of him, and it ultimately leads to his demise

The Awakening by Kate Chopin (128 pages): This novel focuses on a woman who is trying to reconcile her views on femininity and motherhood with those of the very conservative South. It does not have a happy ending.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (144 pages): This crime novel features Chandler’s famous character PI Philip Marlowe. An old man is being blackmailed and he wants Marlowe to make it stop.

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (160 pages): This classic science fiction novel about alien invasion is where so many bad book adaptations get their ideas. (Don’t watch the movies! Read this book instead!)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (160 pages): This novella is fairly different from the movie version (the male protagonist is gay…pretty big difference) and Capote’s prose is simply stunning, so even if you’ve seen the movie, this is still worth the read!

Animal Farm by George Orwell (140 pages): Orwell’s novella is an allegory for the Russian Revolution, and the hypocrisy of the newly-instilled leaders. Of course, it’s overtly political, and uses talking pigs, sheep, and horses to illustrate Orwell’s viewpoints.

If it’s good enough for old George, then it is good enough for me. I write short books that are action packed, easy to read and just as good as any novel.

Ruthless by Esther Krogdahl (288 pages): When career-driven Ruth lands a seemingly perfect job at GlobalCore- a chic yet mysterious global corporation, she prepares to dish out her cold and merciless brand of human resource management. But there is something different about this company. Ruth finds herself climbing the corporate ladder but this time as a matter of life or death. She must compete with angels wearing Armani as she struggles with her new eternal occupation that redefines “employee termination”.

I have almost finished the second in the Ruthless trilogy- Heartless, which will end up around the 45-50,000 mark also. This time, I’ll be marketing the book as a novella- loud and proud.

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