Since I received a Kindle for Christmas last year I think I may have read more novellas in that short time than in all the years previously. And that’s not to say I was a slouch with reading them before. Orwell and Steinbeck are two of my favorite authors and they both wrote novellas that were huge in scope, even as they may have been short in pages. I’ve made the effort to track down and read Hugo Award winning novellas, and I never liked Stephen King better than in his leaner, shorter form.
But since I got my Kindle I haven’t had to go out and track them down. The e-publishing explosion has brought them to me. Just a few short years ago my writer friends were lamenting the difficulty of selling a novella. Oh, how times have changed.
I didn’t start out writing novellas. I started writing novels. One extremely demanding job put an end to that. I was too exhausted at the end of the day to even pick up the threads of my own plots. A writer friend suggested I try short stories. I took his advice and had some luck selling them. As I built up my writing muscles again I started tackling novella length, with no idea where or how I was going to sell them. Agents wouldn’t look at them and even Stephen King had lamented the difficulties of trying to place them.
Even with the difficulties, though, I loved the form. Concise, but able to tackle larger ideas. Every word needs to count. Every single word has to earn its place. I find there is a certain intensity to the reading and writing of novellas that is unmatched by short stories or novels. But maybe that’s just me.
Is the novella experiencing a renaissance? I certainly hope so, but I’m not sure. I’ve read many reviews of novellas published over the last couple of years and have noted that reviewers often lament their brevity, usually when they’re expecting the work to be longer. But bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s something short, concise and intense that will fulfill the hungry reader, rather than a larger meal. Here are my tips for reading novellas. 1) Know what you are reading is a novella and adjust your expectations for length accordingly before you even begin. 2) Slow down and savor every carefully selected word. 3) Try to read it in one sitting, just like you would a short story. 4) Re-read your favorites.
Carina Press is having a sale on select novellas this November. My own Blue Galaxy is among them, as is my fellow blogger Ella Drake’s Jaq’s Harp. If you’ve never tried a novella before, this could be an inexpensive opportunity to give one a try. Click on over and see if there is one that tickles your fancy.
Am I alone in my novella love? Please share with me your thoughts on the reading and writing of novellas. What are your favorites? And here is a lovely Goodreads list of the best novellas ever written. How many have you read?