December 2, 2011

Book 101 - Of Novellas and Novelettes

Sometimes you want to read a big heavy tome, then you'd rather pick a small volume to entertain yourself. I present to you - the novella and the novelette!

Copyright by Robert Burdock

A novella is basically a short novel, usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The average novella has a word count between 17,500 and 40,000. Based on its length a novella has generally fewer conflicts than a novel, yet more complicated ones than a short story. Unlike novels, they are not divided into chapters, and are easily read in a single sitting.

A novelette is an even shorter piece of prose fiction. The distinction to other literary forms is once again based upon word count, in this case between 7,500 and 17,500. Contrary to the novella, which is often seen as a popular story having a moral or satirical point, the term novelette is sometimes used in a derogatory manner, suggesting fiction which is trite, feeble or sentimental.

The idea of serialized novellas dates back to One Thousand and One Nights from around the 10th century. The novella as a literary genre later began developing in the early Renaissance literary work of the Italians and the French. Not until the late 18th and early 19th centuries did writers fashion the novella into a literary genre structured by precepts and rules which defines the novella as a fictional narrative that is restricted to a single, suspenseful event, situation, or conflict, leading to an unexpected turning point, provoking a logical, but surprising end. To me it often seems that today we usually refer to books as novellas based solely on their length and not so much a narrative as just defined.

Do you like reading novellas or novelettes? Are you more of a big-heavy-tome kind of reader? Or should we simply agree that it's all about the story itself, no matter how long or short?

1 comment:

  1. I used to hate novellas, since I was made to read so many in high school, for my Romanian literature classes, but now I tend to like them, although it is quite frustrating to finish one when you would want it to last a few more pages :)