What is a Novella?

This is post #14 of #BlogchatterA2Z.

This includes blogging every day in April for 26 days, except on Sundays. What’s special about it is that every day’s post will be corresponding to each letter of the alphabet. 

My theme for 2021 is Bookish TriviaIf you liked this post, don’t forget to “roll” me on Blogchatter’s website!

All my #BlogchatterA2Z posts 2021 can be found here.


Do you like thick books i.e. >500 pages long? 

Or are you happy to indulge in bite-sized pieces of fiction? 

The word counts/page counts of different pieces of fiction — novel, novella, novelette, flash fiction, micro-fiction–seem to vary slightly depending on who you ask.

My take is that the quality of the story should be more important than the need to meet a required word count.

I’ll describe the characteristics of a novella in detail in this post.


What qualifies as a novella?

A novella is a piece of standalone prose fiction that’s not as long as a novel, yet not as short as a short story/novelette. In brief, a novella is a short novel.

They’re usually between 17,500 words and 40,000 words or around 100-200 pages. But there’s no hard and fast rule about the length of novellas.

The unusual length of novellas makes it hard to categorise, and thus, difficult to market. Literary magazines find them too long, yet book publishers find them too short. But they still appeal to authors because they encourage experimental writing. 

Contrast this with:

FORMWORD COUNTPAGE LENGTH
Novelette7500 -19000 wordsUpto 100 pages
Short story1000 – 7500 words
Flash fiction< 1000 words
Micro-fiction< 500 words

The defining features of a novella are:

  • Usually focus on a single main character
  • Focus on a single plot 
  • More complex than short stories
  • Can be read in a single day
  • Often feature a wendepunkt (unexpected turning point)
  • Often express themes through symbolism

What is an example of a novella?

Some novellas that you may enjoy reading are:

  • Daura by Anukrti Upadhyay
  • Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag
  • Mother of 1084 by Mahasweta Devi
  • Three Women by Rabindranath Tagore
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

What is a novella vs. a novel?

The differences between a novella and a novel are:

Word count

A novella is 17,500-40,000 words, whereas a novel is anything over 40,000 words.

Pacing

Novellas have less space to devote to the story, so they offer a fast-paced narrative with a single point of view. Novels have the luxury of exploring several points of view and diving into backstories. 

Central conflict

A novella focuses on a single central conflict and tends to focus on one main plot. Novels will usually have subplots and detailed character development for each character. 

Unity of time and place

It is recommended that writers of novellas ground their story in a single location (or limited space) in continuous time. 


Check out Reedsy’s blog on tips to write a novella.

Or you can watch this quick 5-minute video:


References:

  1. https://www.purplepencilproject.com/top-ten-indian-novellas/
  2. https://bookriot.com/how-long-is-a-short-story/
  3. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-the-differences-between-novelettes-novellas-and-novels#how-long-is-a-novelette
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_novellas
  5. https://www.writermag.com/improve-your-writing/fiction/novella/
  6. https://examples.yourdictionary.com/what-is-a-novella.html
  7. https://blog.reedsy.com/what-is-a-novella/

15 thoughts on “What is a Novella?

  1. I have recently come to appreciate novellas. They’re short but pack a punch. And I’m happy to say I have read quite a few of your reccos 😀

  2. Thank you for the sharing the video Satabdi. It’s given me some ideas:)
    Very helpful post, indeed.

  3. Thank you for explaining Novellas to us. I have read and enjoyed Gachar Ghochar and citing that as an example has made me understand the concept of Novellas better.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.