I was invited to write a novella for a bundle book which I am very proud of. In fact I am working on it right now. Knowing me when I sink into work I won’t pay attention to anything around me until I think I’m done. Reason enough to decide in time to find out what a novella is and how it is structured. Working on my full length novel I needed to know how long it can/should be and if it’s supposed to have chapters.
I found different sources, each of them saying something else. Even though its content is hardly ever engraved in stone Wikipedia at this time seemed to be quite informative.
A novella is a work of written, fictional, narrative prose normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. The English word “novella” derives from the Italian “novella“, feminine of “novello“, which means “new”.
A novella generally features fewer conflicts than a novel, yet more complicated ones than a short story. The conflicts also have more time to develop than in short stories. Unlike novels, they are usually not divided into chapters, and are often intended to be read at a single sitting, as the short story, although white space is often used to divide the sections. They maintain, therefore, a single effect. Warren Cariou wrote:
The novella is generally not as formally experimental as the long story and the novel can be, and it usually lacks the subplots, the multiple points of view, and the generic adaptability that are common in the novel. It is most often concerned with personal and emotional development rather than with the larger social sphere. The novella generally retains something of the unity of impression that is a hallmark of the short story, but it also contains more highly developed characterization and more luxuriant description.
Robert Silverberg writes:
[The novella] is one of the richest and most rewarding of literary forms…it allows for more extended development of theme and character than does the short story, without making the elaborate structural demands of the full-length book. Thus it provides an intense, detailed exploration of its subject, providing to some degree both the concentrated focus of the short story and the broad scope of the novel.
Dictionaries define novelette similarly to novella; sometimes identically, sometimes with a disparaging sense of being trivial or sentimental. Some literary awards have a longer “novella” and a shorter “novelette” categories, with a distinction based on word count.
The word count is the number of words in a document or passage of text. Word counting may be needed when a text is required to stay within certain numbers of words. This may particularly be the case in academia, legal proceedings, journalism and advertising. Word count is commonly used by translators to determine the price for the translation job. Word counts may also be used to calculate measures of readability and to measure typing and reading speeds (usually in words per minute). When converting character counts to words, a measure of 5 or 6 characters to a word is generally used.
Novelist Jane Smiley suggests that length is an important quality of the novel. However, novels can vary tremendously in length; Smiley lists novels as typically being between 100,000 and 175,000 words, while National Novel Writing Month requires its novels to be at least 50,000 words. There are no firm rules: for example the boundary between a novella and a novel is arbitrary and a literary work may be difficult to categorize. But while the length of a novel is to a large extent up to its writer, lengths may also vary by subgenre; many chapter books for children start at a length of about 16,000 words, and a typical mystery novel might be in the 60,000 to 80,000 word range while a thriller could be over 100,000 words.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America specifies word lengths for each category of its Nebula award categories:
over 40,000 words
17,500 to 40,000 words
7,500 to 17,500 words
under 7,500 words
All right, so far so good. I’m on the right track and have crossed the boarder from novelette to novella a while ago. I’m right within the frame.
And let me tell you: Writing a novella really is fun!