Novel VS Novella or Short Story

Novel VS Novella or Short Story

I am in my sixth year of writing Pride and Prejudice variations, and most of my books would probably be considered novellas or novelettes. However, in doing research for this post, I found that the length required for each of these varies. Especially in the case of what constitutes a novel, the word count is quite different.

Wikipedia’s article on ‘Word Count’ brought out the following information.

Novelist Jane Smiley suggests that length is an important quality of the novel.[2] However, novels can vary tremendously in length; Smiley lists novels as typically being between 100,000 and 175,000 words,[3] while National Novel Writing Month requires its novels to be at least 50,000 words. There are no firm rules: for example, the boundary between a novella and a novel is arbitrary and a literary work may be difficult to categorize. But while the length of a novel is to a large extent up to its writer, lengths may also vary by subgenre; many chapter books for children start at a length of about 16,000 words,[6] and a typical mystery novel might be in the 60,000 to 80,000 word range while a thriller could be well over 100,000 words.[7]

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America specifies word lengths for each category of its Nebula award categories:[8]

Classification Word count
Novel 40,000 words or over
Novella 17,500 to 39,999 words
Novelette 7,500 to 17,499 words
Short story under 7,500 words

So, there are different opinions as to the length of each fiction work. Although some of my books are considered novels and other novellas, I don’t write to get a certain length book. However, I do write until I feel like the book is finished.

Darcy Chooses – The Complete Novel is the longest book I’ve written at 150,000 words which includes the prequel Darcy and Bingley at about 12,000 words and Darcy Chooses Parts 1 and 2.

 

A while back, Stephen King mentioned that novellas would become more popular due to the time constraints people have in their lives. By the time they work, raise their families, have a certain amount of recreation in their lives, and upkeep their houses, etc., there is not a lot of time to read. I’m fortunate that because I work out of my house, I can make a lot of time to read…if I wish to. Unfortunately, I love to read, especially Pride and Prejudice variations, and could read just about 24/7 if I wasn’t careful. 🙂

I must confess that lately I’ve been more inclined to read rather than write and must get back to work soon. What I have to consider is: Do I write novellas with less intricate plots that will have a faster pace and will be preferred by those who have less time to indulge in reading or do I endeavor to write lengthy novels for those who like a long plot and a lot of details?

However, there are problems that have appeared with both lengths of books. With the novellas, those who look for problems are critical of the length, the plot, not enough time between problems arising and being solved, and just not enough information in general to suit them. With the novels, the complaints might include it’s too long, it’s too repetitious, ‘I got bored’, ‘I didn’t finish it’, etc, etc.

So, what am I considering? Since most of my books tend toward 40,000-60,000 words, I will probably have future books at a novella length. But if a particular book requires more words, I will write more. Whatever the book needs to make it complete is what I aim for, and, hopefully, each book will be of a length that will satisfy its readers. 🙂

The question that arises is how many e-book or paperback pages is a novel for instance? Darcy Chooses is 552 pages and 150,000 words. Elizabeth’s Choice is 206 pages and 56,000 words, and Darcy Vs Bingley is 239 pages with 59,000 words. My Four Lords Books vary from 25,000-43,000 words.

Although the paperback and Kindle pages should be the same, sometimes the Word doc. pages only show if Amazon doesn’t update the pages when the paperback is published. Kindle and paperback pages are actually about 39% higher than the Word doc. pages because of the smaller size. i.e. Word doc. pages are 100. Then the Kindle and paperback pages total will be 139-140.

Please let me know whether you prefer novels or novellas and why in your comments below. Thank you.

Reference: Wikipedia Word Count

28 Responses to Novel VS Novella or Short Story

  1. I like everything and have written short stories, published a novelette, 2 novellas and one very long novel. JAFF in any way shape or form suits my fancy. Thanks.

    • I like all forms as well, Jennifer. Only problem is that my time is getting tighter and tighter, and novellas and short stories do help in that regard. 🙂

  2. I like to read both. I find myself drawn to novellas because of the time limits that I have to read but I have noticed that my favorite book are almost always novel-length.

    • That’s good to know. I do have favorites of both novels and shorter books and wish I had unlimited time for both. My TBR list is way too long. Thank you for commenting. 🙂

  3. Interesting post. And I’ll add another vote for Glynis’ comments.

    I don’t care how long a book is so long as it’s an enjoyable read, altho’ it is good to know the proper name for things.

    I do care if short stories are published as individual books.

    Multi-volume books are fine if they are an enjoyable read.

    I suppose the only time size matters is when I’m travelling — I do like a book I can read, savour, and finish before I return home.

    FWIW.

    • Thank you for commenting, Janis. I agree that the book be enjoyable no matter the length. And I like having my emotions invested in it as well. I love Darcy and Elizabeth and find that for the moment I prefer most of my reading for pleasure be about them. With time constraints, I am finding that having the books a little shorter means I can read more books, but I don’t forget about longer ones either. Since we are fans of Jane Austen whose books are very lengthy, it behooves us to not entirely eliminate them. 🙂

  4. I write short. I read short. I am short. LOL 😉 Therefore, I prefer novellas. 🙂

    Seriously, I do love shorter works. I will pick up a novella before I will a novel, and a good short story is a lovely treat! (I am one of those people Mr. King was talking about. I do not have a lot of time in my day to read, which makes novellas wonderful and what I search for.)

    Here are a couple of other sources on length for you. According to the Romance Writers of America RITA awards criteria, a novella is 20,000 to 40,000 words while a novel is over 40,000 words. And according to Edgar Allan Poe, a master short story writer, a short story is one which can be read in one sitting. (So, I guess it depends on how long you can sit. LOL)

    However, we all know that length does not determine if a story is good or not, it is used for classification purposes only when sorting through written work. As Glynis said it needs to be a fully enjoyable story no matter the length. And that’s the real “trick” to writing, isn’t it? Making sure the story does what it is intended to do. I used to tell my students (and it drove them crazy) when they asked how long something had to be “as long as it needs to be — not a word less — and not a word more,” and that is exactly how long I think a good story should be. 😀

    • Hahahahahahaha! Yes, I think it does depend on how long you can sit, Leenie. And I can sit for a good while, though it’s not always the best thing to do. I love it. Our stories need to be as long as they need to be to get the job done. When I wrote ‘Darcy Chooses,’ I put 13 twists on Austen’s plot. That did make it longer than I normally would write. What I’m doing now is putting less twists and following up on the ones I do use to a greater extent. In fact, one good twist could take Austen’s P&P in a whole new direction. And I do agree with you as I am writing and also looking for more novellas than novels though I do like both. Thank you for commenting, Leenie. 🙂

      • Thirteen twists would most certainly take longer than one 🙂 That’s a lot of twists. I think it is awesome that you are tackling a variety of story lengths.

        • Thank you, Leenie. I jumped right in writing P&P variations and quickly found out I didn’t know what I was doing. 🙂 What training I had was in non-fiction, a horse of a totally different color. Since then I’ve been working on improving my writing and how I handle my plots. It’s been an experience, and I wouldn’t give for it. <3

  5. I aim more for a target than a between. Short stories I like to be around 11,000. Novellas around 30,000. Novels, over 65,000. That way, I don’t have to worry about what my exact cut offs are 🙂

    With my work with Renata, we make the story the length is needs to be. Not less, and not more. It’s all about what is needed to complete the emotional arcs and plot. No word count in mind.

    When I work with a publisher, they usually have a word count in mind, so I create an outline which will give me that.

    My own personal taste is to write long and read long. That’s why, sometimes, Renata cuts out some of what I write, when we work together. Otherwise, I get carried away 🙂

    • Hehehehehehe! I get it, Summer. If I can make the time, I will read and enjoy longer books. The only thing about the P&P’s is that sometimes the longer books are only because the original is long and the variation is nearly a copy of Austen’s work with some action and dialogue changed up. I don’t mind but actually enjoy more variation of the original which could mean a longer or shorter version of what Jane Austen wrote. When it all comes out in the wash, I enjoy whatever length that has a good plot, excellent writing and editing, and a lovely HEA for Darcy and Elizabeth. Thanks for your comments. 🙂

  6. I’m with you, Glynis. Just give me a good story. However, I am a marathon reader. In other words, I read until I hit the end of the book. I have spent many a night starting and finishing a book and sleeping all the next day. So a shorter book is helpful if I’m to get my beauty rest. I love Joy’s Christie Capps’ books as well. She’s a great writer especially her latest. My ‘Four Lords’ Saga Series’ was originally done as separate parts of a serial series. Each had a cliffhanger at the end that lead into the next book. All four are intricately woven into each other with the fourth book wrapping up the series, so I have no way of splitting them out into separate books except by the Lord and his story. Actually, I was very proud of how I handled that foursome. All four including the short story ‘Matt and Janie’ are found in the ‘Four Lords’ Saga Collection’ available for $9.99. It has a total of 566 pages. And I’m delighted you love ‘Darcy Chooses.’ As I’ve always been a non-fiction writer, that one was my first foray into fiction with ‘Attending a Ball’ and ‘Darcy and Bingley’ being the prequels for it. I have to laugh about ‘Attending a Ball’ as it was my first and obviously so. I’m getting ready to revise it so it reads better. I’m still proud of all that I’ve done and hope to have ‘Darcy Vs Elizabeth’ and ‘Darcy Vs Wickham’ before the end of the year. I will have giveaways, so look for those in the coming months. Thank you for your comments. 🙂

  7. I would rather sit and read a novel that has twists and turns and really keeps me interested in the plot. I seem to recall all the long novels I have read better than the novellas or short stories. Maybe it is just my mind, but I do love to read and most of my books whether on kind or in book shelves, are novels.

    • Good to know, MaryAnn. For myself, I don’t have the time (however, I do make the time) to read only novels. I also like a novel length, especially mysteries, when, as you say, they have lots of twists and turns and keep me guessing. So, I will probably mix my books with mainly novellas and a novel thrown in occasionally as well. I’m wondering if ‘Darcy Vs Wickham’ will turn out a novel. Hmmmm! 🙂

  8. Like several of you, I am in agreement with Glynis. The story dictates the length, and unless it is really long, I would prefer all of it in one publication. I have loved many short stories, but like J W., I don’t want a serialization of a bunch of short stories. I also have stopped buying from authors that do this. I do have criteria on price and length. I will not spend $7 on a 50-page story, especially if it was written by an unknown author. I suppose I could consider Kindle Unlimited, but I haven’t been ready to try that yet.

    • I agree with you, Robin, that $7 is too much for a 50 page story. I do like having more to justify the price. Kindle Unlimited is helpful in not only letting me check out a book before buying it as there are some books/authors that I’m careful about. An unknown author, particularly in Regency romance or a new P&P author will have me wanting to see what’s included in the book before adding it to my library. I do enjoy most of the books I read but will not necessarily add them to my library if I don’t feel that I will read them again in future or find they contain smut especially at the tail end of the book. So KU is good in determining that ‘buy or not buy.’ Thank you for your comments. 🙂

  9. Nice post! Wow! That is a lot of words and pages! Writing seems to be very in depth!I love to read too, my perfect escape!

    • Thank you, Cindie. Reading is my perfect escape as well. However, I need to quit escaping quite so much and get back to work. 🙂

  10. I did some searching on this some time ago, and yeah, there’s not a lot of agreement! I tend to go by my own feeling: I consider 40,000 words or less a novella, up to 100,000 words a short novel, and anything over a full novel. But that’s just my own arbitrarily decided word counts. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s good to mix them up. It gives the reader a bit of variety and it helps me manage my workload–for example, I can write a novella in less than two weeks, which is much less of a slog than a 150,000 word beast!

    I used to write almost all novels, with a few short novels added in for good measure. I’ve always been a “long story writer” and it was hard for me to come up with a shorter story, for as you mentioned, it’s a completely different animal from a novel. You have to come up with a plot that’s quick-moving, nothing too intricate, in which you can tie all the loose ends up quickly in a nice, neat bow. Having said that, I’ve recently discovered novellas and their benefits. Like you said, there are complaints about whatever you do. I personally think if you plan it out and write it well, the length is to a certain extent irrelevant. Having said that, the length and the lower price are certainly benefits to writing a novella.

    Though I don’t write to a certain length, I do have ideas that I think will end up in certain categories, and I tend to structure them that way (though any story can take a life of it’s own and become much longer or shorter than I intended). Mr. Bennet Takes Charge, for example, I wrote with the specific idea of trying out a novella, and it ended at about 30,000 words–it has also been one of my most successful. By contrast, I figured Out of Obscurity would be a long one, and it was, at more than 180,000 words–my longest to date. I did get some comments on that one suggesting it was too long! 🙂

    • I agree, Jann, that having novels and novellas gives the readers some variety and can make it a little easier on us authors as well. ‘Darcy Chooses-The Complete Novel’ was originally done in two parts with two prequels over a year. I hit a snag with Part 2 in not knowing how to resolve it. Once I realized that there really was NO resolution, I finished Part 2 rather quickly. Although originally a pantser writer, I’m now doing a layout of the plot ahead of time and am finding that once I get started, the dialogue, etc. is easier to write when I know the pattern I will follow. I may do another lengthy book in the future but will probably do novelettes or novellas for the most part. Then again, certain books may take on a life of their own and drag me along with them. I’ll just have to wait and see. 🙂

  11. Well, Glynis has said it well and I agree completely. There is one burr under my saddle that just drives me crazy. When an author posts short fragments as few as 10 page at $0.99 only to find out it is not complete. In order to find out what happens I have to buy the next one that is also incomplete and it continues indefinitely until I have paid a ridiculous price for something that could have been published as one novel or even novelette. Another author does the same thing but with a few more pages in each segment. These soap opera installments drive me insane and I have quit reading both authors for that reason. I can’t trust them. They are not marketed/promoted as a continuing saga or even as a chronicle [on going – like forever]. I can’t afford that. My book fund simply will not support that practice. I’d rather spend my money on authors I can trust. Well, now that I’ve said my peace… I’ll step off my soap box. Have a blessed day. I think I need coffee… no, I’m too hyped, perhaps a nice calming tea.

    • Well, Jeanne, I’m glad my ‘Four Lords’ total more than 550 pages in the collection. They do make up a serial type series, and I did make a mistake by not mentioning that in my blurb for too long. For a while now, the blurb starts out mentioning that none of the books are standalones. I’ve also determined that any future series will be made up of standalones since that is what most readers seem to prefer. And although I am rather ambivalent about Kindle Unlimited, I will probably keep the ‘Four Lords’ in KU permanently. Blurb to ‘Attending a Ball’ mentions right off the bat that it’s a prequel to ‘Darcy Chooses’ and ‘Women of Longbourn’ also has a slight overlap with ‘Darcy Chooses.’ If I do continue the ‘Four Lords’ books, they will be done for each sibling of the lords and connected to the original series but will be standalones as well. I’m just a bit undecided as it will amount to about 25 books, and I have around 30 premises/plots for P&P variations on paper at the moment and adding more every month. Sigh! 🙂

  12. I agree with Glynis’ comment: Whether a story is satisfying and complete matters much more to me than word count. There are days when I can devote hours to reading, and there are days when my time is so limited I can only squeeze in one chapter; but I don’t expect a writer to craft a story based on my personal time schedule. 🙂 Besides, I have a nice collection of beautiful bookmarks, and I like an opportunity to use them every once in a while!

    • Thank you for your comments, Nancy. I have more and more days that my time is going to be limited as I play catch up on a number of things. However, I can’t just read one chapter. Usually it’s half the book before I stop…if I have to. Love your bookmarks. hehehehehe. 🙂

  13. My criteria is a full enjoyable story no matter the length! For instance, my favourite ever JAFF is Imperative by Linda Wells, two books totalling about 1500 pages. But I also enjoy the short stories Joy King posts as Christie Capps as these are still complete stories.
    I’m not so fond of stories which needlessly stretch over 2 or more books when they could easily be published as 1. Obviously page count has to be taken into account (especially with a physical book) but some continued stories have less than 200 pages and could easily be one book only!
    I love The Darcy Saga by Sharon Lathan, the Conscience Series by Cat Gardiner and Memory by Linda Wells. These are all three or more volumes but couldn’t possibly have been published as one book as they are all around 450-550 pages!
    So Gianna my feelings are tell the whole story and the word count isn’t that important! By the way I also love Darcy Chooses!

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