Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Is a novella a REAL Book? You bet it is

When you head into bookstore or shop online for your favorite reads, do you REALLY buy only for length? Yay for choices, right? Years and years ago selections were different. Most books were full lenth novels but boy, have the times changed. I could be wrong about this (and if I am tell me so) but it seems that novellas really took off in the 90's. For those of us who like our reading material to smolder and steam, Kensington's Brava line was introduced and many of us devoured those short, hot stories finding the length absolutely perfect to fit our busy lifestyles. It makes sense really. More women in the workforce, our kids (if we had them) were involved in too many activities to name and the modern woman was doing it all from stuff on the home front, work, kids...you name it. There was, and still is, a huge market for novella length or short novel.

Just over the past few days authors have mentioned that, though they had novellas published, they didn't feel like a 'real author' until after signing a contract for a NOVEL. HOOEY, I say, HOOEY. That's the dumbest thing ever. Writing is writing and an author is an author whether you write novels, shorts or a combo of the two. At the moment, I'm working on something that must be less than 13K. Okay folks, this isn't easy. Fitting characterization, plot and lots and lots of hot stuff into that length requires major skills. Finding that one perfect word to replace a dozen is no easy task but authors do it every day. It's like working the most intricate of jigsaw puzzles and everything has to fit. So novella writers not real authors? Again I say HOOEY.

Last year at Ellora's Caves Romanticon readers attended a forum and were asked to talk about their favorite book lengths. Frankly, some books DO need to be longer. The stories are just mre involved. But have you ever read a longish book and come away thinking...hey, that could have been a whole lot shorter and told the same story. I remember many years before I was published, I attended a small, casual booksigning featuring a well-known author who talked with us about the book editing process. She laughed telling the story of her editor telling her to write an additional two pages to better describe a  particular 'hillside'. Really? That sounds like a lot of FLUFF to me. Let me have the story nice, sharp and clean. Who cares about the length as long as the author did her job.

32 comments:

Allie Standifer said...

Regina, I completely agree. Some stories should be way longer than they are. Then some others are way too long. I don't think writers are defined by the length they write, but by the amount of blood they poor over the keyboard :)

Harlie Reader said...

I think that the story should tell itself and not be dictated by length. I've read some really great shorts that were written very well and then read some long ones that were awful. In fact, I just finished a short (30+ pages) for a review and this particular author nailed everything for the story and it was great.

Harlie Reader said...

As reader, either in ebook or print, length means nothing to me. If the book grabs my attention and holds it, it could be 10 pages to 1,000 pages.

Christine said...

If it's a great book I would love it to go on and on. I prefer Print and I don't care for ebooks mostly because they are to short. I have an ereader but I haven't used it in over 4 months. I actaully just loaned it to a friend and when she found out most ebooks are Novellas and that they were shorter, she didn't even like the sound of it. But she's a new reader and Has started out on some great series. So She really likes those.

Regina Carlysle said...

Right Allie. A story is as long as it IS. Adding a bunch of unneccessary fluff just to make it longer seems really silly to me.

Regina Carlysle said...

Completely agree, Harley.

C. Zampa said...

I wss on a forum the other day and a member announced she'd gotten a contract for a novel.
Although she'd had novellas and shorts published, she said that she had told herself she would NOT celebrate until she had a REAL (her words, not mine) novel published.

I was stunned. And ALMOST felt inferior, considering all I've had published is a novella.

But I recouped and then got ANGRY. So this person is telling me that MY novella---which I'm getting paid REAL money for---is not a REAL book? Oh, hell, NO, you didn't! I'm still mad.

As far as my own personal reading, I have no preference for novel or novella length. If the story fits its length, I'm okay. Oh, sure, if it's a story I'm engrossed in, then I wish for it to be longer.

But I've read MANY, MANY novels where I skipped page after boring page of 'filler', thinking THIS should have been a novella.

And as far as my own writing? I LOVE novellas. They are affordable, and that means more people who LOVE to read CAN read my story, and can afford to BUY it.

I, for one, cannot afford for every book I buy to be a print book. They are VERY expensive. So I LOVE that my book IS affordable, whether it's a REAL book or not.

Sorry to go on. I suppose I'm still very rile about that post I saw. I never commented to this person, but was shocked and disappointed at how many DID comment and AGREE. Grrr.

Dalton Diaz said...

Personally, I think it's harder to write short.

Regina Carlysle said...

Have to say Christine, I haven't read a paper book in years but isn't it great there are so many choices these days. For historicals, I DO tend to like a longer book simply because historical tends to need more detail in description but other than that, I love a shorter book.

Regina Carlysle said...

Carol, to me this story sounds like very much like a NEWBIE description of what a real writer is. Those who write for magazines are 'real writers' and they pen things that can be read in a matter of minutes. The whole notion is just ridiculous!

Regina Carlysle said...

Definitely harder, Dalton. I've written anything from full length novels to quickies and everything in between and by far, it's harder to write short. There's a real trick to it.

Regina Carlysle said...

Oh Carol...Don't mean YOU are the newbie. She is. LOL. Thought I'd clarify that.

Ashlyn Chase said...

I'm a novella girl. I love anthologies. I read them in my hot tub, and if one story doesn't grab me, I can move on to the next.

Dragon Lady said...

Sometimes, it all depends on the mood I am in. If I am feeling all sappy and girly, the longer books, with more fluff and more....everything, are good. If I am in a mood that has my family saying...Momma Dragon is here, back off! then I will look for a book that is a bit shorter, as my attention span will be null and void. Those books I call PWP. Meaning, plot, what plot? :p Those are usually the freebie books I get at Ellora's Cave and consist of maybe, if I'm lucky, 15 pages on my Nook.

SO, I guess you could say, I have no preference in what I read, length wise. It all depends on my mood and what the story is trying to convey. Some authors don't need the extra fluff because they can get it done and NAILED with just the few fluffys they add in. Others fill in more and flush out more and it still works. Maybe it just depends on the author themselves on how the book goes. If the writer is competent, then less can be SO much better. For others, the details enhance it all, because they are literate and articulate.

All in all, just about everything I have read, I like. Damn few end up being deleted off my thumb drive, tho some are deleted off the Nook.

Laurann Dohner said...

To me it's about the story. If it sounds good, I want to read it. It doesn't matter if it's 30 pages or 300. The only time I can think of that length mattered was when I went to Romanticon last year. I purposely picked longer length books to take on the plane with me because flights from Cali to Ohio are long. I didn't want to run out of reading materail but wanted to just read a few books. LOL! I find it way more challenging and tough to write shorter works and tend to give bigger KUDOS to authors who write awesome ones because you have to put so much story into so fewer words. LOL.

Also - Some of the best written books I've ever had the pleasure of reading... were ebooks and not in print.

Molly Daniels said...

It took me a while to understand the 'Quickies', but now I like the shorter books because it means I can purchase more of them:)

I've discovered my 'comfort' length when writing them is 30-40K, but I'll read any length as long as the story holds my attention:)

Randi Alexander said...

I like both short and long books, but I have a method to my madness. Longer books, as a few of you mentioned, can be slower paced, filled with more details and description. I read longer novels just before bed to relax me and put me to sleep.

But when I want to exercise, nothing beats a fast-paced short story or novella to make those 30 minutes on the treadmill go by quickly.

But any length story, to me, is writing, and is a 'book.' Like my kids say, "Can't we just all get along?"

Marie Rose Dufour said...

As a reader, I love reading novellas. They keep my attention and I don't have to invest days and days reading the same story. I honestly don't have time any more to read a full length novel. As a writer, I write novellas and I consider myself a TRUE writer. It doesn't matter the length of the story, just the quality.

Anonymous said...

I'm with many others on this. If the story is good, then I could give a woop how long it is. As for writing, or trying to write, I haven't found my niche lengthwise. But no matter the length of the book, it must be dowloadable to my ereader. Paperbacks are too hard to hold. Lol!!

Jen B. said...

I think 20 years ago, the snobbery of novel vs. novella probably held more weight. But, with the growth of the internet and ebook use, the snobbery just doesn't make sense. Plus, there are lots of people that tell me they don't have time to invest in a full legnth novel. Funny enough, once they read a short or novella that they like, many of them tell me that they hunt down longer works by the author. Over the next few years it will be interesting to watch as publishing is forced to change becuase of the way readers are changing! BTW, I love shorts and novellas BECAUSE they are quick reads. Sometimes I just want a little taste and not a long term relationship ;)

Regina Carlysle said...

Me too, Ashyn. Novella is my pref these days. Just too busy most of the time for longer.

Desiree Holt said...

I'm with Harlie, too. I think the length of the story is dictated by the story itself. And whoever said they found themselves sometimes paging through a novel (65K or more, even more than 100K) I'm there, too. There are some books that I don't ever want to end and others that I think, please, get rid of the filler. As a reader I want the story to last as long as it holds my attention.

Jean Paradis said...

I just read a full length romance novel by a bestselling author and was stunned at how padded it was. Give me a tightly written fast paced novella any day.

Regina Carlysle said...

hahaha Laurann...a long book is a good idea for the length of flights you take.

Regina Carlysle said...

Me too Molly. I used to pretty much be a 'longer length' girl but after discovering the shorts, I learned to love them. And now that my time is at a premium, they are perfect.

Regina Carlysle said...

Completely agree, Randi. Love my historicals on long weekends.

Regina Carlysle said...

You said it, Marie Rose...if the book is great it just doesnt' matter about the length. Great work doesn't begin and end with a long format, does it?

Regina Carlysle said...

I hear ya, anonymous! E all the way. Love my ebook reader. I can't recall the last time I bought a paper book.

Regina Carlysle said...

Right Jen. I've done both short and long. Shorter is my prefered format to write however. I do believe having a mix of lengths is smart.

Regina Carlysle said...

Isn't it strange how much of that we see Jean? When I find that kind of stuff I skip over it. All writers know about transition scenes and that they are somewhat difficult to write but a scene like that that is excessive turns a good book into something boring.

Regina Carlysle said...

So in the end, Des, we must write the best story we can and forget totally about length. Just DO IT.

Tess MacKall said...

Grrrrrrr...we don't want to get me started here, now do we? lol

I'll be addressing this issue as well as a couple more on Monday. Hmmmm...I've been stewing for years.