I’m now writing the companion novel to Pleasure House, but a dear acquaintance of mine, Nymph Du Pave, suggested that I write some short stories featuring the characters in my novel that I’ve just released. Now I must admit, writing shorts is something I hadn’t really thought much about, considering I don’t read lots of shorts myself. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the ones I’ve read, but I just don’t read lots of them on a regular basis.
But I’m surprised at the number of authors who do engage in writing shorter pieces of work. They all seem to have their different reasons, most indicating they feel overwhelmed in having to write tons of words to make up a full-length novel. Others feel more immediate gratification in being able to complete something in a shorter length of time.
There’s only one big problem I have with short stories: the reader’s complaint that it’s too short! When I scour reviews on Amazon, I’m surprised by complaints that the story was good, but rather short. Well, come on, folks, it’s a short story. Why on earth would you expect it to be longer? Even when authors note in the title and product description that the work is not a novel, the readers still complain about the length of the work–or lack thereof.
So now’s my big question: What about novellas? If a sellable length novel is anywhere from 92K words and higher, a novella is 20K-50K words (about 50-100 pages or so). Would readers feel they got more for their money and enjoyment reading something shorter than a novel and longer than a short story? As an author, you would have at least a little more play room for character and plot development, and you’d still get the immediate gratification of finishing up a piece of work quicker. As the reader, you’d have a little more time to get pulled into a new world and connect with the characters.
Now I’m in a quandary. Continue working on my companion novel to the one I just published, or take a quick side trip and complete a novella? Of course I could come up with fun tidbits that wouldn’t quite fit into the novel I’m working on while titillating the senses of readers who want to sample my work, but on a smaller scale to see if they even like it.
I would like to hear from readers or prospective readers out there. What do you want? Do you prefer something longer than a short, but not quite novel-length either? Do novellas satisfy the “it’s awfully short” problem? Let me know what you all think about this!
I vastly prefer full-length novels, and the only time I read shorts is if they are written by a favorite author, or are a prequel that adds something important to a series. As you said, I want (or maybe I need) more time to connect with the characters. More time to immerse myself in the experience.
Novellas are more acceptable to me, if the author is one who recognizes that his or her readers are possibly people like me. Not everyone can pull me in to the story quickly, sometimes it takes a little longer. I’m ok with it taking 50 pages to make me feel that story, but it’s not ok if that story is only 60 pages long!
Thanks for visiting and posting your comment, Sara. It’s nice to hear some fresh opinions, and overall, that’s what I’m hearing too. Readers want some time to settle into a story, and you just can’t do that very well with shorter works.