Reading Short, by Davinci Kittie

Jan 24, 2012 by

Welcome to Davinci Kittie, one of our favorite guest bloggers!  Today she’s writing about novellas.  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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We all know the bane of the short story: girl gets the guy romantically but there’s no adventure, girl gets the “action” (if you know what I mean 😉 ) but there’s no heart, girl gets the roses and adrenaline but there’s no steam. With the limited  word  count  in a  novella  or  short  story,  there’s  only  so much an author can squeeze in and still keep up the quality standards.

I was recently reading, and seriously enjoying, a book for a review, and realized that the story was nearly over before any non-romantic  action  could  happen. He doesn’t get to save her from evil?

They don’t have a misunderstanding and she storms out into the dangerous unknown in a fit of fury?                                                                                                                                                                                                                             The secondary characters really don’t get more lines or scenes or a  sequel?

Then I realized that perhaps I wasn’t reading a full- length  novel,  but rather a novella. In this age of digital galleys, it can be tough to tell the real length of a book (Kindle uses “locations” that are not at all like page  numbers!).  Taken in perspective, the story went from “hey, that’s it?!” to “Wow, the things this author can do with character development are phenomenal!”

 

As readers, do you prefer full length novels over shorts because of this very reason or do you accept the limitations of the short story and enjoy them for the quick sips they are? Do you like to know up front that it’s a short or would you rather be surprised with the flow? What elements are most important to you and what are you willing to sacrifice when it comes to what makes a story dynamite?

Authors, how do you approach the challenge of writing the limited scope of a short or novella? Do you have any hard and fast rules or do you let the story tell itself and just get out of your own way?

Readers and authors unite! Let’s hear about it! Let us know what you think.

 

From Entangled gang… we LOVE shorts which is why we now offer Flirts and Ever Afters, our novella lines!  Want to read more?  Check out an interview with author Natalie Anderson (Melt), and some of our other Flirts and Ever Afters.  Look for new releases in these two lines on Thursdays!

Entangled Novellas

8 Comments

  1. When I write a novella, I know there won’t be quite as many plot points or twists, because there’s simply not enough room. I try to structure my novella around that, but mostly I just get out of the way and let the story unfold. I figure I can always fix pacing issues later on. 🙂

  2. I like to know the length of what I’m reading upfront. If I could know the word count (well, I’m writer) even better than knowing how many pages it has.
    I wrote two novellas and I confess I don’t think I’m really good at it, but just because I’m not used to it, I think. The plots I come up with are usually very complex and requires too many words and details.
    Though, I’ll keep trying 😉
    That said, I like reading novellas. I try to squeeze one here and there 😉

  3. I’ve been reading a lot more novellas lately. I’ve never been a big fan but last year I read one that was mind-blowing and so well done. Then I read an interview about it where the author explained her secret to not ruining the short format. Minimal # of characters. Sure enough, I looked back at many novellas I had no enjoyed and the problem was that either a) there were too many side characters confusing me or b) I wasn’t familiar with the world building because it was a series that was already established outside of the novella.

    But novellas are growing on me. So far Entangled has had an impressive line-up of short stories. I think the key is good editing and the writer(s) not being too ambitious in their novella. Save the big stuff for a full-length. 😉

  4. I love shorts- I accept them for the quickies they are. Short little reads that can tease and taunt and make you want more.

    I really love them when they are extra glimpses or a different viewpoint into a world I already read- like a series I’m into.

  5. I also like to know up-front. I think if I have to sacrifice any element in a sexy romance story, it would be the adventure, because the heat and the relationship-building are my favorite parts. If I were reading a YA short, say some add-in for the Iron Fey series, I’d be willing to sacrifice the heat because the adventure is half the fun. =)

  6. I enjoyed reading novellas and I love writing them. I think the keys to writing them include: one main plot, one set of main characters, few to no secondary characters, few to no subplots. Keeping these areas more narrow allows you to go deeper into the characters–their conflicts, goals and motivations. I don’t think you have to sacrifice interesting world-building, either, but you do have to be able to describe it succinctly and believably. Thoughtful article, DC! Thanks for writing it! 😉

  7. I have read a few authors who seem to be able to pull off the novel affect with a novella, ex. Rosalie Lario, Stacey Kennedy and Eve Langlais. These are the top 3 to come in my mind. When I read stories from them I never ever feel like I am missing more to the story.
    Some novellas I do not like are when its the same story being told but just from someone elses P.O.V to me they are just not usually worth it.

  8. I’ve come to love the novella, but it wasn’t until I had my first ereader that I really started to read them in earnest. The only ones I’d read before were part of anthologies and I was generally unsatisfied by the reads. But now there are so many to choose from. But I am careful to know going in if it’s a short or not. Some work and some don’t, but when you’re busy sometimes all you have is an hour and you don’t want to get involved in a longer story.

    Some of my favorite shorts have been by Cari Quinn, Kaily Hart, Faye Robertson, and Cara McKenna

    As an author, I’m finding it very hard to write them, but I think it’s a learning process. Just like I had to learn how to sew up the dangling threads of my novel length stories to write a great ending, I’m learning how to simplify the story and still keep my voice.

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