Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Novellas Are the New Black...or Are Sequels?

I like writing novellas. They're long enough to explore characterization and plot, without being so long that they bog down midway. Writing in the 17-40K range gives you room to move around, room to really get inside the minds of your characters. And a novella can be read in far less time than a 100K novel, with just as much pleasure, at least to me. Sure, you can feel a little short-changed, a bit of 'but what happens to them next?' when you invest in characters, but that's what sequels are for.

Ah, sequels. When I was a kid, I wasn't familiar with the glory of sequels. I read anything that fell into my hands, everything in the school library and that ultimate pleasure: books for birthdays and holidays. But when I left these characters, I left them. They were gone, and the only way I could visit with them again was to reread the book. Not something I ever balked at, certainly, but sometimes you just want to know more about 'em, right?

So, I read THE TIME TRADERS by wonderful, awesome, amazing Andre Norton. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Then I found GALACTIC DERELICT. Oh frabjous day, calloo, callay! The same characters were in both! Gordon Ashe and Ross Murdock were there, doing their time-travel stuff, only this time they were in space too! Sequels…the Universe's gift to rabid readers. I love sequels! And prequels! And 'stories set in the same universe'!

Bringing me back to novellas. The bloated word count in a lot of modern science fiction and fantasy ranges well over 100K. Back in the 50s and 60s, books in these genres came in at a leaner, meaner 50-60K. I like writing in that range myself. But I never knew I'd enjoy writing novellas as much as I do.

My friend, brilliant writer J. Kirsch, aka Jon, has recently begun a fabulous series of novellas which began with THE PRINCESS WHO WOULDN'T DIE. It's free for a while, so go get it and read it now. Go ahead: I'll wait.

Now that you're back and all full of Princess goodness, did you notice the length of Naji's story? Under 16K and still, you got a full, clear, exciting, great story. And Jon is working on a sequel too, so try to hold down your impatience. If you can, mwhahahaha…

I've got a steampunk novella coming out soon from Pulp Literature called BLACKTHORNE AND ROSE: AGENTS OF D.I.R.E. And, guess what? I'm working on a sequel.


  1. I certainly agree. I remember reading a Doc Savage novel in a couple hours, and two Shadow novels a day. Pulp magazine novels were usually 45k, except for some series, which did reach 60 to 70k. There were also a whole lot of novelettes at 30 to 35k that were great. Novels today are padded to reach 100k and more, and will sometimes drag out way too long.

  2. Tom, that is so true! Lots of the Big Publishers won't even look at a book if it's under 100K; they prefer 125K. Personally, I'd rather read 3 different books @ 35K each; more fun, less time, more characters. And let me just say: I LOVE DOC!!!

  3. .

    Just read the first part of DIRE and must say these are characters I would consider spending more time with.