Does size really matter?
You know, there are several people out there who wonder: What’s the difference between a short story and a novella? Also, what makes a piece a novel vs. a novella? Are they the feminine and masculine versions of a written work? Or is the English vs. French version of the naming? WTF?
Let’s explore, shall we?
Believe it or not, short stories and novellas are actually different from each other. Additionally, novels and novellas are separate entities.
Unfortunately, Precious Readers, as with many things, what is the key variable that separates all three?
Drum roll please…
They say bigger is better…
That’s right, Precious Readers! It’s all about size: the number of words in the piece, specifically. To help, here’s a guide (from smallest to largest):
A fictional prose narrative shorter, and more focused, than a novella.
It typically is a single “episode” and often a single character.
Average length is generally only up to around 12,000 words.
A fictional prose narrative often set during a brief period of time,
such as a day, week or month.
It concentrates on character study.
Average length is around 16,000-40,000 words.
A fictional prose narrative of considerable length.
This usually has a plot is driven and unfolds through actions,
dialogue and thoughts of varied characters or a singular character.
Average length is anywhere from 40,000-100,000+ words.
The reason I love short stories is it can allow a quick introduction to a character who will have a much larger work (novel) down the road. Short stories open up all types of possibilities. Another way to think of a short story or novella is an additional epilogue for some of your favorite characters, just to get a sneak peek at how they’re doing.
Think along the lines of a romance (of course, my go-to genre) and checking in with your hero/heroine after they ride off into the sunset. Well now what? A short story or novella allows authors to go back and visit them, perhaps during their honeymoon, an upcoming birth of their first child, etc.
Short stories and novellas also allow multiple authors to work together to create an anthology.
Excuse me, while I shift my librarian-like glasses and provide you with additional (sidebar) information:
An anthology is a published collection of poems or other pieces of writing. (This term can also be applied to a collection of musical work.)
Ahem. Now back to our topic… again.
I just finished reading an anthology called The Undead in My Bed an anthology of vampire short stories by three authors, and Seeing Double Trouble (Deadwood Shorts).
It’s always difficult to rate a book that has multiple authors. Your rating could be hindered because one short story could be amazing while another sucks. It’s a judgment call. I’m glad Goodreads allows me to go back and adjust a rating if I change my mind.
The Undead in My Bed
Katie MacAlister – Shades of Gray: I am a serial reader of KM’s stuff. Loved that Noelle finally got her Dark One! I’m a huge fan of all of the characters and it was heartbreaking to see Noelle get pushed on to each new novel without her story being resolved. Can’t be upset about it though, the muse is there when the muse is there. One hilarious scene with the ‘ghost whisperer’ had me reading it over and over, giggling like crazy! The only thing that prevents a full 5 stars is an earlier short story introducing Grayson (See Lifestyles of the Rich and Undead) wasn’t free and I had to pay for both LOTRU AND SOG. However, I did find myself “snarfing” along with her work and I can never put her stuff down!
Shoutout to Pacific Northwest authors! What up?!
Molly Harper – Undead Sublet: Oh MH, how you crack me up in the most inappropriate manner! I wish I had best friends like Jane, Andrea and Jolene. Even though this was a short story, MH really makes the reader feel that the characters are fleshed out and provides enough environmental detail without being overdone. The prank war is hilarious and makes me think of my own husband’s ongoing prank war with his brother. Plus, always a bonus when an author provides a recipe at the end! It followed a somewhat predictable formula, but had so much heart the reader is completely engaged from beginning to end! (Especially the easter eggs of the diner patrons’ romantic encounters carved into tabletops, could it be one patron is Molly Harper?) It was nice to see Jolene get a best friend since Jane and Andrea tended to view her as a little loony.
Wish I could move to Half-Moon Hollow! I love how much I actually laugh out loud from her work. I can only hope my work is as belly-laughing inducing! Oh, but beware of gift baskets…
Jessica Sims – Out With a Fang: I wasn’t familiar with JS’ works prior to this anthology, so it was great to be introduced to a new author. This story was a fun read, and brought a new twist on vampire lore and the many ways they can be destroyed. It was a little confusing hearing about newly turned vamps who had difficulty talking around them. The earlier description of the vampire fangs provided an image along the lines of walrus-length teeth, creating a comical image rather than seductive one. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep the walrus-people out of my head, even during the midway point when the teeth were described as being only 2 inches in length.
I still have thoughts of the were-jaguar being a were-jaguar/walrus. Eep!
Seeing Double Trouble (Deadwood Shorts)
Side Note: Yes, the cross outs are intentional. To know Ann Charles’ work is to embrace the cross outs.
I have been a huge Ann Charles fan since I read her first Deadwood series novel, Dearly Nearly Departed in Deadwood. After finishing Seeing Trouble (Deadwood Shorts) I am now ready to start on novel #3: Head Dead Case in Deadwood. It was great having more background on her protagonist, Violet Parker, and how she had cut certain people from her life. The first novel in the series didn’t go into much detail as to why these people who were significant to Violet’s life decisions were quickly crossed out of her life. The short story also provided an “author interview” of the character. I am a huge method of letting the characters be interviewed as a way of getting to know them.
Bonus! There was a separate short story thrown in called Candy Lover. Not as great, but since it was a bonus, I’ll let it slide.
What are some of your favorite anthologies? Do you prefer anthologies to focus on a form of writing (such as poetry), or for the works to have a common theme, (like the vamp theme, above)? Do you even like anthologies, or prefer singular works? Do you find short stories and novellas worth the price? Or should short stories be free? (We’ll go more in-depth on book pricing at a later time.)