Novellas, Too Short?

Posted: December 28, 2017 in Uncategorized


When I first started writing back in 2009, I wanted to write novels. No matter how I tried, I could only write a little more than 50,000 words, the lower limit of what is considered a novel. At least I was in the ball park. My problem was I don’t like filling my books with a lot of useless prose. I don’t describe the room when my character enters it. Who cares if the curtains were purple or the rug was oriental. I could write a whole afternoon of action in one paragraph.

Now after 9 years of writing and 73 books later, I’m wearing out. I’ve started to create what are called Novellas, which according to the various experts in the field, range from about 17,000 words to 40,000 words. I never cared for word count, but I found that readers do. My last five series of books, starting with the Gus Mackie books, were all novellas, and I shot for at least 20,000 words each.

I started getting complaints about my books being too short, especially after my Jim Richards books which were all in the novel length. I had a few reviews that complained about this, but I did include in the books’ description that these were “Novellas, shorter than a novel, but longer than a short story.” I even mentioned on the book’s cover that it was a novella as I gave it a sub-title, like the “Gus Mackie Novella Series.” One reviewer claimed one of my books a short story, so I replied as to what a novella was and she said she missed that in the description. The problem is most people don’t read the whole description. People would say they really liked the book but hated that it ended so soon.

Novellas allowed me to write more books and to ease up on my weary brain coming up with new plots. I didn’t want to get stale. I was exploring the word novella in Google and came up with a number of webpages that featured famous books that were novellas. I was surprised with most of them thinking they were long ponderous tomes, written by famous authors.

Here’s a list of the most famous novellas:

Novellas that appear on multiple best-of lists

Animal Farm George Orwell
Billy Budd Herman Melville
Breakfast at Tiffany’s Truman Capote
A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess
Ethan Frome Edith Wharton
Goodbye, Columbus Philip Roth
Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
I Am Legend Richard Matheson
The Metamorphosis Franz Kafka
Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
The Old Man and the Sea Ernest Hemingway
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson
The Stranger Albert Camus
The War of the Worlds H. G. Wells
The Time Machine H. G. Wells
The Invisible Man H.G. Wells

Other notable novellas

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Truman Capote
Call of the Wild Jack London
Silas Marner George Eliot
The Tenth Man Graham Greene
Daisy Miller Henry James
The Turn of the Screw Henry James
Flowers for Algernon Daniel Keyes
Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption Stephen King
The Sojourn Andrew Krivak
True Grit Charles Portis
Brokeback Mountain Annie Proulx
Bonjour, Tristesse Francoise Sagan
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark
The Pearl John Steinbeck
The Death of Ivan Ilyich Leo Tolstoy

James Patterson is now writing novellas and calling them “Book Shots” but they are still novellas.

There are tons of other well-known novellas, but too many to list. I’m glad I can say I’m in good company with my novellas.


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