A Place For Everything, Everything In Its Place

Cynthia Eden wrote a wonderful blog entry at the Bradford Bunch last week about novellas. I love to read novellas, it’s often how I discover new author voices. But when I read a novella, I read a novella. By that I mean, I don’t expect to get the same experience I’d get in full length novel. I’m going to remember that in a novella, I won’t get the same level of detail and characterization I’d get in 100K words. A novella has to be a great balance of characters and enough world to give the reader a backdrop. Cynthia’s novellas in Secrets 15 and 18 are great examples of how to balance detail and character and wordcount. MaryJanice Davidson is also excellent with novella length, Angela Knight, Megan Hart, EC Sheedy, Erin McCarthy are also favorites of mine.

In a quickie – a short of about 10K words, I’m going to keep that in mind even more. I’m going to look for a story that gives me a sharp punch of sensation. A quickie isn’t going to be about worldbuilding, it’s going to be about the characters. EC’s “quickie” series are great ways to find new authors or even to get a tiny bit of an author you already enjoy. Cheyenne McCray’s quickies are wonderful, as are Charlene Teglia’s, NJ Walters’, TJ Michaels’ and Shelley Munro’s.

In a category length novel, you’re talking 60-70K – that’s enough room for worldbuilding and good characterization but it has to be tight or you’re left hungry at the end. There are some harlequin authors who should write the book on how to write great category because they do it all the time and they kick category’s limitiations in the ass. Alison Kent and Jo Leigh are two who immediately come to mind. I’ll add William Gibson because while he doesn’t write romance category, he does write 70K at times but gives the reader an immense world with three dimensional characters (Neuromancer is in my top 10 favorite novels of all time list)

And in a single title, the author has more words to work with, but she doesn’t need to throw in everything including the kitchen sink. Just because you’ve got 100K, we don’t need to know about every single detail. The single title author has to create a big, rich world with interesting characters without unloading *too much* detail and information. Megan Hart is fabulous, Lara Adrian, Liz Maverick, Guy Gavriel Kay – just to toss out a few

Different authors can master these different lengths and some authors can do them all really well. I don’t have much more of a point, I was just having a discussion with a friend of mine over the weekend about novellas and expectations of different types of stories.

5 comments to “A Place For Everything, Everything In Its Place”

  1. Kate Scott
    June 26th, 2007 at 2:37 pm · Link

    I totally understand what you’re saying. Too often in reviews of a short story, the negative part has to do with development of the relationship. “It just wasn’t believable that they fell in love after only 6k.” Well honey, in a short story made up of 8k words, where an HEA is required, when do you think it’s going to happen?

    I feel like reviewers and readers alike need to understand what they’re getting and not getting with a novella in order to appreciate it fully.

    And T minus 9 days. woot!

  2. Jaynie R
    June 27th, 2007 at 4:29 am · Link

    I’m only just starting to really like shorter/novella stories. I was put off a lot by favorite authors doing anthologies with other authors I didn’t like, so then I’d have to fork out full price for the whole book. Lately with anthos I’ve bought, I’ve been lucky and liked all minus one, or all of the stories.

  3. Charlene
    June 27th, 2007 at 6:25 am · Link

    Great topic! I’m with you, I don’t expect a novella to read like a category length or a single title. But with each one, I do expect the story to fit the length! And thank you verra much for the mention. :mrgreen:

    BTW, William Gibson also wrote Burning Chrome and if THAT doesn’t blow your last brain cell in few words…

  4. Cynthia Eden
    June 27th, 2007 at 9:48 am · Link

    Oh, wow, Lauren, thanks so much for your kind words about my stories!

    I do think it is important to realize that novellas and quickies and full-length novels are definitely going to produce different sorts of stories. And you’re right–in quickies, I also look for that fast punch of sensation–that punch (a punch you deliver particularly well!) always tells me that I’ve found a winner in that author.

  5. N.J. Walters
    June 27th, 2007 at 10:12 am · Link

    You’re absolutely right, Lauren. The type of story you get definitely varies with the length.

    If I’m reading a novella, I certainly don’t expect the amount of detail and in-depth relationships that you get in a full-length novel. My expectations are different for each style of book.

    And thanks so much for mentioning my Quickies. 😀