Why Novellas Matter

A novella is a long story, much longer than the 5000 to 8000 word short stories published in magazines across all genres. At the same time, it’s shorter than a novel, less than half the length (sometimes only a third). It’s an in-between story, not quite either of the two things readers are most used to reading. It’s been defined as being between 17,500 and 40,000 words*, which tells you about how long it might be, but not, really, what it is.

“The beauty of the novella is that is eludes definition. Which, when you think about it, is what makes art art rather than a product. Let’s embrace that.” – Michael Nye

Perhaps it’s not definable as a specific thing so much as a range that a certain kind of story falls into. But if we can’t nail down hard and fast rules about what a novella is, what’s the point of it?

The structure of a novella lends itself to exploration without dragging on too long. Taylor Antrim said that a novella is “fiction’s most open-ended and compellingly discursive form.” It opens the reader up to a new experience but ends before the feeling has faded away, leaving the reader in the moment, in the story.

The point is that a novella offers the best kind of reading experience. The point is that novellas are quick to read, full of impact, descriptive without being overwhelming, and exciting in their brevity. They are, simply, damn fun to read.

The novella is the perfect literary length. Bartleby the Scrivener. The Secret Sharer. The Turn of the Screw — all are novellas which retain the immediacy and vigor of the short story combined with the freedom and leisurely pace of a monologue without losing the gristle and bone and without losing the fat. – Harlan Ellison

Think of all of the chances you’ve had to start reading a new novel, but put it aside because you didn’t think you had the time … A novella can be read in a few hours, or spread out over your lunch breaks one week, or finished on your daily commute.

A novella is everything you need a piece of fiction to be.

John Brandon thought so highly of the novella as a story form that he suggested we all pretend they don’t exist, so publishers can’t find a way to make money from them, so they don’t become mainstream and boring. For the most part, that’s worked, as there are few publishers willing to put out a novella on its own, and even fewer of those handle speculative fiction. It’s this deficit that we want to correct.

“And look,” he said, “let’s keep the novella for ourselves, the adults. We deserve something, don’t we?

You do deserve to be able to read brilliant, strange, beautiful, and wicked stories. You deserve a quality market for speculative fiction novellas. We want to give them to you.

click on the image to pledge

Please pre-order books, art, and novella subscriptions from our Kickstarter today, and help us make a new home for novellas. We only have two weeks left.

* According to the SFWA

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