Starting out the novelette way as a newbie author
As I recently self-published my first work ever, What the Eye Sees, I have been asking people I know to read the book and provide feedback. One question that I am being constantly asked is- why is the book so thin? Why is my first work of fiction, and the first book in the Crimocopoiea series, a novelette?
When I started writing the story, I had no idea how long it would be. I’m the kind of author who’s used to writing long stories, the kind of person better at writing novellas and 50,000+ worded novels. So this has been something of an exercise in novelty for me as well. The question in my mind is, can newbie authors, virtually unknown, start their writing career with a short novel?
A novelette is a work of writing which is lengthier than a short story and shorter than a novella. The Science Fiction and Fantasy writers of America define a novelette as being a story having minimum 7,500 words and maximum 17,500 words. Below this limit constitutes a short story, and above this constitutes a novella.
Below is a quote for the advantage of novellas which, as in the introduction to a novella anthology titled Sailing to Byzantium, Robert Silverberg writes:
[The novella] is one of the richest and most rewarding of literary forms...it allows for more extended development of theme and character than does the short story, without making the elaborate structural demands of the full-length book. Thus it provides an intense, detailed exploration of its subject, providing to some degree both the concentrated focus of the short story and the broad scope of the novel.
While totally supporting the above statement, I think the same advantages can be applied to a novelette as well. This is a fact I discovered while writing What the Eye Sees. I could allow enough space for character development, theme, plot twists and turns without having to extend the foundational scope of the story to make it a full length novel.
Since my story describes the events transpiring over a time period which is less than a day, I can provide the fair justification for the story being in the range 7500-17500 words. But the question is, will the reading public accept this version of a story as a serious work and appreciate it? Especially if it comes from a debut author, virtually unschooled in the various reader choices which often dictate the content and other vital details of the various works being produced.
In my opinion, there are a few advantages:
1. Debut authors can, through a novelette, tell readers more about their style of writing, their penchant for weaving plots and developing elaborate characters in a short work of fiction and therefore attract readers towards their unique style of writing.
2. Writing novelettes, apart from short stories, will help the author develop their craft of writing to the point where they can churn out both 100,000 + word novels, short stories and novelettes with equal skill and enthrall readers with their creativity and genius.
3. I have seen it myself, and therefore believe firmly that non-readers can turn into consummate bookworms once they are first introduced to a thin book to read, their interest is piqued and then they can move on to the lengthier novels. This can be a potential market for some authors as well. Just an idea.
4. Novelettes, like short stories, are easier to read and therefore can draw people back to reading, in a world which has a shorter attention span and which is obsesses more with gadgets and social networking.
The above is just my opinion as a beginning author, because this has been a new experience for me, considering the articles about writing I’ve read and the kind of books I’m used to reading. But I also believe that this can be an innovative experience in the ever-growing and metamorphosing world of writing, where creativity rules and new forms and styles and content of writing is the norm. I sincerely hope that in the near future, both established and beginner authors will take up writing novelettes, apart from the usual novels they churn out, and help develop the art of writing this particular form of story.
Percy Kerry is a student, author, blogger, researcher and consummate bookworm. Her first book, What the Eye Sees, is available on Amazon and Lulu, in Kindle and print respectively. Her second book will come out by mid- March 2014.