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  1. Admin
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    Novella vs. Novel

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Admin, Aug 29, 2011.

    Some of you may know me as that one crazy guy.

    Anyways, I've been thinking a lot lately about novellas vs. novels. I was wondering if anyone knew if there was a different way to go about writing a novella vs. a novel. Did the famous ones like Time Machine and Animal Farm start out as novels but over the course of editing became novellas? Would you rather read a novel or novella?

    Also, post other stuff about this topic.
     
  2. Xyphon
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    Xyphon Member

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    I've honestly never noticed a single difference aside from the length. I also don't have a preference, as long as it is well-written I will read it.
     
  3. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Those examples were novellas (or actually probably just novels that were short before the days of labeling everything) because those writers knew to not try to fit a story into a space, and instead find the right space of the story.

    I'd rather read stories that are as long as they need to be to successfully tell the story.

    It's not that tough. Write a story. Edit and revise it to where it's working exactly how you want. Then note the length.

    At least that's how good writers do it. Then again, we live in an age where everything is homogenized into a business model, and the business model dictates novels sell better, which is why I see so many bloated stories stretch to novel length when they have no business being that long.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Theoretically, there is more of a difference than just length. You can find scholarship on the 'theory of a novella,' for example, that gets into a lot of arcane distinction. I couldn't really tell you what the distinctions are, but I knew a professor who did a bit of research in that area.
     
  5. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    I prefer to read and write novellas. I feel it is a nice middle-ground -- to have the room for character and story depth, moreso than a short story, but still short enough that it can be enjoyed in a couple days without a (sometimes) significant investment of time.

    The general consensus seems to be there is no market for novellas, so if you are going to write one a vanity press is likely the only way it will see print, unless it is runaway brilliant.
     
  6. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    It's kind of like how the differences between a big and small beachball can be described mathematically with pages of complex equations and dissertation after dissertation on the various theories surrounded the differences.

    But, in the end, a big beach ball is simply bigger than a smaller one. Sure, there's probably highly advanced details involving in the way they'll respond to floating in water. But, really, one big. Other small.

    The misconception a lot of writers make is that a novella is simply the first half of a novel, meaning the story arcs are never closed. Or that it's just a short story with tons of expository world building.

    Just like writers think novels inherently allow a writer to start slow, building the world and characters or providing 10 pages detailing the history of the world.

    Or that short stories don't need a story arc, and can just be about a guy in a bar listening to a bartenders wild tales.

    Writers love spending their time trying to sort out the differences between things that aren't all that different in practice. If you're going to the beach and want a ball, size is the only thing that really matters between a big one and small one. The advanced workings of mathematical beach-ball theory is for a lab, not practical use.

    So too, if you're writing a story, the space it takes up is what matters most in practice. To be successful, great writing still shares almost all of the same aspects: action based, tight writing, character and story arcs that resolve, etc.

    The main difference isn't in how the length of a story reads or looks once written, or even what the writing looks like on a sentence level, but in planning. Novels are longer, so there are more arcs, longer arcs, and thus more things to organize and keep track of. Beyond that, all the perceived differences in novels to short stories are usually just that, perceived differences (usually by writers standing in the parking lot arguing over the merits of beachballs when the rest of us are actually on the beach having fun).

    Opinions!
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Somewhat, though it wasn't exactly that sort of thing. I got to hear a lot about it because this was my girlfriend at the time, but all of her source material was in German and I couldn't read it.

    But at least according to these German scholars who were writing on this, there were substantive differences, well distinct from length, that revolved around what you had to do with character, for example. They had a rather involved but arcane scholarship around it. Kind of like the Pythagorean cult or something, where you had to be in the know to figure it out.

    Which means it was probably all bollocks.

    Oh, I did find a statement regarding the German sources online:

    That's precisely the sort of stuff she was looking at. But for the most part, I think the only thing publishers look at in terms of novel v. novella is length :D
     
  8. Admin
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    If I write one, it will be. ;D
     
  9. Admin
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    But what I mainly am looking for is if there is any particular way one should go about writing one if one's intention is to write one. Are there limitations you should put on character development or plot twists? Etc.
     
  10. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    It's the kind of thing where if you have to ask, you aren't ready. And if you don't have to ask, then you are ready, because instead of asking you'd simply be doing.

    Basically, just write your stories. Learn how to finish a story without the limitations of length (or genre or any other limiting factor).

    Some day, when you're great and don't have to ask how to write to a specific length because you won't have to ask that because you'll already be doing it if needed, you'll look back to your early days and how much you learned from organically writing stories.

    The natural process is idea, conceptualization, writing, where in conceptualization you determine how much space a story is likely to require (keeping in mind it can always change). If you start with a conceptualization and then try to force an idea into it, you're going to fail.

    And keep in mind a novella (or any other name for a specific length of work is about far more than the word count. I could continue banging on my keyboard with my face for 100k words even after I've hit send on this post, but that doesn't mean I wrote a novel.

    Basically: first learn how to write at all. Then learn how to write to very specific limitations or expectations. And if you have to ask how to do the latter, you haven't done the former.
     
  11. Admin
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    So, it's not a matter of how but when? That makes perfect sense. Not to make excuses, but I asked these questions because I'm curious, somewhat bored, and asking questions always gets you an answer. I'll try some exercises in finishing stories of various lengths.
     
  12. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Don't make an exercise out of finishing stories of various lengths. Just finish stories. Eventually you'll start to see what space a story arc or idea requires, and then you'll at least have an idea which ideas will end up which length and can then choose which ideas to write out, but you'll also learn to let a story inhabit the space it requires.
     
  13. Admin
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    It's all too free! ;D

    I really need to just let myself write and not think about what kind of rules there might be or procedures I should be following.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    YES!

    so stop fiddling around here and start writing!!!
     
  15. SilverWolf0101
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    I'm with Mammamaia on this one lol.

    See my belief is, that if you worry too much over the length of the work, or the details of the work, you'll never get the work itself done because you'll constantly be stopping yourself to worry over stuff that could actually be quite small.

    So as Mammamaia put it
    You can worry about everything once you have everything written down on paper. Even if you don't finish the work (God knows I have plenty of unfinished ideas/skits/stories) you have it down so you can play with the details and stuff afterwords.

    As for the original subject of novella vs. novel. I honestly don't worry over how mine are going to be classified or the length of the book. As long as it's written down I'm cool with it. There's always time to rework the piece later on down the road.
     

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