Monday, 27 January 2014

Once again, I'm ahead of the game

When I was at school I was always about two years ahead of fashion. This of course made me unfashionable. I'd be searching for a long black skirt when everyone else was wearing short; I longed for a pair of grey cord trousers when everyone else was wearing skinny bleached jeans. And two years later, when everyone was wearing long skirts and cords, I'd moved on again. I am a pioneer (and a modest one, at that!)

I wrote novellas when everyone else was writing novels...

And now, novellas are back, says the Telegraph. The growing popularity of e-readers means people are happy to read something a little shorter. Indeed, reading War and Peace on a Kindle might give you RSI after a while!

I never chose to write novellas, I write the story I want to tell at the length it wants to be. I've experimented with forcing a story to be a specific length, and it never really works well. I covered this point in my last couple of posts - trying to fit my story within an allotted word count - so I won't repeat myself.


So, anyway, I'm cool now... Are you?
Are you put off a book if it appears too short?
Have you written a novella?

61 comments:

  1. I've never written a novella, and I'm not sure I could. Everything I write tends to sprawl into much longer stories, but like you, I write to the length the story wants to be.

    Which is why I wouldn't be put off by a book if it appears too short.

    So...congrats on being cool now.

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  2. Hooray for being cool! I've never written a novella, but I had considered making my WIP one when it was just a ridiculously long short story. But by fleshing out all of the ideas it really worked better as a novel.

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    1. I think that happens a lot with writers, a shorter story becomes a novel. I have the other problem - it all finishes up way too short. Which is why I'm going to enjoy being cool... it won't last :-)

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  3. I've been considering going the novella route since I dipped my toe in the self-publishing waters. Stephen King wrote novellas way back when and I loved them. :)

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    1. Novellas adapt much better into films than 300+ page novels ;-)

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  4. I am definitely not put off if a book appears too short. It's the content of the story that matters to me :)

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    1. I can think of two books I've bought solely because they were short. That's not weird, is it?

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  5. Good for you!
    I like reading the shorter stories. A really long book puts me off.

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    1. Very long books always make me think they need a really good edit, even before I open them.

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  6. Hey, that means I'm cool too! Lol. Both my published stories are novellas. I'm glad they're coming back. Because even though I'm hoping to write more novel length works, I really like writing novellas.

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    1. Yay for being cool too :-) I love the length. I'm always trying to write a novel, but in the end they shrink.

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  7. I know in this hip world of technology I will probably take some slack in saying that I prefer a book. I prefer to hold a book in my hand as well as the smell of a book especially older books that I find in the library. I know that will sound odd to most. I don't own a kindle or any other fancy type reader because of that.

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    1. I've got a couple of great novellas in print - Coma by Alex Garland and Snake by Kate Jennings. I've always actively sought them, so I'm hoping this will make them easier to find - in all formats.

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  8. I enjoy reading novellas. Writing them is fun, too!

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    1. I think shorter stories can have a bit more freedom. Fun when you're writing is important :-)

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  9. LOL! I adore novellas, as long as there's enough story/character to really get me hooked. I can't write them though. My stories always demand more realty. Flusterbating. =) Here's to power writers and novella-ation!

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    1. Novella-ation! What a great word. I am currently novella-ing my latest story :-)

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  10. I have never written one, and I can't remember reading one either, though sometimes a 'short' story feels more like a novella. As for fashion - I ore hippy skirts for so long that they came back into fashion again!

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    1. Hippy skirts should never be out of fashion. Lizy! Especially when worn with lots of beads and some anklets :-)

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  11. I love a good novella! I've noticed more and more people seem to be writing them now, even more so than two years ago when I first started blogging.

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  12. I don't think I could write to be fashionable, but on the other hand, I've written a novella.

    Sort of

    It was the origin story of a character that I wanted to play with. Unfortunately, there was NO MARKET for short work that was, if you'll excuse the pun, that long. So yeah, I'm feeling a little hipster now, because I totally did it before it was cool. (that's a joke, I'm not a hipster)

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    1. We're both cool. If I can bestow the title on myself, you definitely can :-) Maybe you'll be able to find a market for it now?

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  13. When downloading a book for my kindle I'm lesss likely to worry about the length than when getting a paperback.

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    1. You must be the reader the article is talking about!

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  14. i became a writer at the perfect time, then - i'm always short on words (and just short!)
    great to hear short it in!!
    love your analogy - and i love how many of my clothes are back in style now, ha ha ha!

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    1. I went shopping with a friend recently and found so many terrible styles that I used to wear. They didn't look good then or now! Some repeated styles are brilliant. I'm still waiting for 'glam rock' to make a return, I'm fed up with the 80s revival that seems to have been going on for ages in the UK.

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  15. I read this article in the Telegraph. I don't know if Allan Massie's idea of a novella being between 20,000 and 40,000 word story is the expected norm for publishers or not. Where does the novella end and the novel begin? I suppose what matters is the amount of words it takes to convey the character/s and tell the story. Ultimately it's a good thing that writers are producing different things - less competition!
    Keep up your good works, Annalisa. Trend-setters always rock and shake! We need you.

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    1. I think those word counts are about right. There's a 10k gap between novella and short novel, but I guess a publisher would be happy to take the risk on the perfect story. And besides, the main argument behind the article is that word length isn't so important, so anything goes!!

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  16. Hi Annalisa,

    I've never attempted a novella. You seem to be ahead of the game. This Saturday's lottery numbers, please :) I'm put off by a book if it's too long. My attention span is rubbish.

    Gary :)

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    1. I'm more likely to skim very long books, because you know the author is taking 8 pages to describe the mug he's holding. Reading Thomas Hardy at school put me off dense description forever!

      I'll PM you the numbers - we can share the winnings :-)

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  17. cutting edge while wearing cords. Can it get better? I'm proud of you. If I ever find myself "ahead of the curve", I'll know the apocalypse is imminent. Keep writing whatever length the story needs and that will be perfect.

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    1. It takes a very deluded sort of person to be cool in cords :-) I'll be watching out for the apocalypse.

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  18. You are indeed very cool... and I totally agree on novellas being popular:) Really hope they take off.

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    1. Thank you! I'm hoping the more people who call me cool, the more my kids will believe it ;-)

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  19. I've just started on a novella so I'm excited that I'm cool now for the first time in my life.

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    1. Awesome! I look forward to reading that, Julie. Definitely cool :-)

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  20. You are cool, dude! Is it still cool to say dude? I as never fashionable or trendy. Just weird. I'm not put off by novellas at all. You can really pack a punch in them. And yes, I have written a few. Heh.

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    1. On my blog, 'dude' is definitely cool! You've written some of the best, Christine :-)

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  21. Hi Annalisa .. well done - always a good sign to be different. But I agree a longer book on a Kindle will be difficult to read - and those shorter ones so much easier to get into and read through ..

    Definitely cool .. but as you mention above .. cool in cords! But this weather they could be good news?! Red cords to cheer us all up ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Wow, red cords!! What a great idea :-) Although I don't think they're quite as cool as we'd want them to be.

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  22. No, I am not cool. But I totally agree that a story should only be as long as it needs to be. I hate it when stories are filled with fluff.

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    1. You can be cool by association, Elizabeth :-) Fluffed out, padded out stories are so obvious - much better to just write a great story to its natural length!

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  23. Novellas are cool. I've written a few. I don't believe in making a story longer than it needs to be.

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  24. I also don't write with a fixed word count in mind. Never managed a novella, though. But the book I'm about to start querying is only 41k long, so I came close.

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    1. I love this 'anything goes' era of word counts. Good luck with the querying.

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  25. Oh, yeah, War and Peace on an e-reader is a hideous thought! I've never attempted to write a novella, and I must confess that I am often put off by shorter fiction, but it's a prejudice I've been learning to get over since I found a few short story writers that I really enjoy. The novella will be next on my list of genres to try reading, I think.

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    1. There are some fantastic novellas out there. I hope you find some you enjoy :-)

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  26. I'm a big fan of short novels - both to read and to write! All my novels are short, and I make this clear in my book blurb, but I still get comments from reviewers that the books are too short, which is quite frustrating. Most of the writers I know love huge books, of at least 100,000 words. Like you, Annalisa, I love the apparent freedom of self pubbing any word length and hate it when folk are too prescriptive about words lengths.

    btw, I empathise ref the fashion trends - when I was a teen I was considered eccentric for seeking out coloured tights and stockings and brightly coloured everything - in those days there were few places to buy emerald green woolly tights! Now it's so easy - especially with ebay! So I was ahead of my time......(and not at all eccentric!)

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    1. Oh I loved bright colours too - still do, but I am slightly more muted these days. You definitely don't sound eccentric to me, indeed you sound perfectly normal :-)

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  27. Two novellas and eleven short stories for me ;) I love writing them and find it's a good way to try writing in a new genre. But my favorite to read and write are shorter novels, about 65K-75K range.

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    1. I've never managed to write 65k - I topped out at 58k once, and I've just slashed that down to 28k :-)

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  28. That is so funny. You're always ahead of the game! I've found I'm always writing what's starting to trend without even knowing it. It's weird.
    Anyway, I'm working on a prequel novella right now too. And I have an idea for another one. But it makes sense that short is in. And serials are in too apparently. That's the beauty of SP--we can jump right into whatever is selling.

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    1. Good luck with your novellas. And I wish you many years of being at the start of the trend :-)

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  29. I don't think I've written a novella, but I have written a really short YA Contemporary (like 50k). I have heard that they're back and some authors like Susan K Quinn have seen loads of success with them. Good on you for being ahead of the game!

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    1. I would have thought 50k for a YA would have been pretty standard, not considered short at all - it varies so much between genres though, doesn't it?

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  30. I wrote a very long short story once. It might be a novella? I forget the word count.

    You're too trendy!

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    1. Too trendy?... That makes me very happy. There's a cross over between long shorts and novellas.

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Please comment - I love a good chat!