A novella is a piece of fiction longer than a short story and a novelette, but shorter than a novel. It is usually judged on word count, which varies depending on which classification is employed. (For anyone interested, a piece of fiction is considered a novella if between 17,500 and 40,000 words in length; alternatively, between 20,000 and 50,000. In terms of page count, you’re probably talking about somewhere between 70 and 130 pages in trade paperback.)
Some of the most famous works of fiction in the English language are novellas: Heart of Darkness, The Turn of the Screw, A Christmas Carol and Animal Farm, to name but a handful. Two of the best (in my view) Stephen King film adaptations are based on novellas: Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me.
How does a writer determine when to write a novella rather than a novel or a short story? Well, I can only speak for myself, though I imagine it’s the same for many other writers. The best length for a story is simply the length required to tell the story; no more, no less.
Some stories demand the full treatment of a novel; some the succinct punch of a short story. Others fall somewhere in between, requiring more in-depth development than a short story, but without needing the complete immersion usually demanded of a novel.
A great advantage of a novella is it lends itself to being collected with others to make a sizeable volume. Here is a collection of three dark novellas that combine to make a decent-sized paperback of almost 400 pages in length. Two of the stories—The Goldfish Syndrome and Returned—were written especially for this collection, though the ideas had been knocking around in my head for years; in the latter case, it was a particular scene—that of a coffin being carried towards a waiting grave to the accompaniment of the tune ‘Tequila’. The title story, Moths, had been largely written many years before and had been stagnating on my hard drive. It was a case of writing an ending and tidying the whole thing up.
The three stories are quite different from each other and most readers should find at least one of them to enjoy. Happy reading!
Published 2nd August 2019.
A collection of three dark novellas that delve into the nature of memory, madness and the afterlife.
The Goldfish Syndrome: a mystery takes a sinister turn—some secrets are best left undiscovered . . .
Moths: when the line between reality and fantasy grows blurred, tragedy beckons.
Returned: a soul dragged from the afterlife, an ancient secret and a race against time to thwart evil.