The Beauty of the Novella
by Stephanie Draven
Traditionally, novellas have been the red-headed step-child of the fiction world. Too short to justify print or to offer the sustained in-depth immersion of a novel, they’ve been a hard sell. But recently, the market for short fiction has been exploding. Why the sudden demand for short fiction even in genres that require intricate world-building like paranormal romance and urban fantasy?
It seems to me that readers, writers, editors and publishers have finally come to appreciate the beauty of the novella. What exactly does the novella offer?
Deciding to buy and read a novel is a commitment of money and time--both of which are in short supply these days. The novella offers readers the opportunity to sample new authors and genres without having to invest a lot. You can usually read a novella in twenty minutes riding the train home. It can be very refreshing to finish an entire story in one sitting instead of plodding along, night after night. (This probably also accounts for the popularity of HQN’s category novels.)
Authors are creative people. Usually, we have far more ideas than we’ll ever be able to turn into books in one lifetime. Sometimes, especially when it comes to paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and other forms of speculative fiction, we come up with zany theories that we’re not sure can support an entire novel. To that end, the novella can give us a proof of concept. Without committing up to a year of our lives to fleshing out an idea that might be a little too off-kilter for the market, we can still weave a short work around a notion that’s nagging at us. This is especially important when it comes to author brand--novellas will seldom signal a break with our usual work, in a way that a full-length novel will. (See Gwen Hayes’ historical romance short, Second Son of a Duke, as an example. She’s normally a YA writer.)
Most authors will tell you that in finishing a novel, somewhere around the 2/3rds mark, they have a crisis of faith. We decide the idea sucks. The whole story is a disaster. This is the book that is going to kill our career. (OK, maybe that’s just me.) However, novellas don’t involve the exhaustion that accompanies a full length novel. The writer is fresh, the ideas are fresh, the writer is still confident. A novella is a sprint rather than a marathon and sometimes the boundless energy and enthusiasm, that spark of genius that is at the core of a writer’s talent, can really shine through.
One advantage of novellas is that their short length allows editors to pull together similarly themed work to create an overall mood and impression in anthologies. Collaborative works can be stronger and more imaginative, so this is especially effective when three or four authors contribute novellas to a continuity, all set in the same world.
Still not convinced? Pick up a copy of my latest steamy paranormal romance novel, Siren Song, and tell me what you think about novellas!
Description of Siren Song:
When the sexy lead singer of an Annapolis indie band is accused of luring midshipmen to their deaths, she learns she’s not the only one with a killer voice…
No one can resist Chloe Karras when she sings—except for the sexy naval officer who is seemingly immune to her sensual allure. Maybe that’s why Captain Alex Shore is just the man she wants to take home after her performance—until he tells her what she thought were imagined powers are real…and dangerous.
Alexandros knows firsthand how seductive sirens are, as well as their potential to destroy. Yet the former sea soldier feels a powerful attraction to the beautiful rock singer that goes beyond her spell. Can he banish Chloe from the town he’s vowed to protect—or will he be drawn into the siren’s bed?Stephanie Draven is currently a denizen of Baltimore, that city of ravens and purple night skies. She lives there with her favorite nocturnal creatures–three scheming cats and a deliciously wicked husband. And when she is not busy with dark domestic rituals, she writes her books.
Stephanie has always been a storyteller. In elementary school, she channeled Scheherazade, weaving a series of stories to charm children into sitting with her each day at the lunch table. When she was a little older, Stephanie scared all the girls at her sleepovers with ghost stories.
She should have known she was born to hold an audience in her thrall, but Stephanie resisted her writerly urges and graduated from college with a B.A. in Government. Then she went to Law School, where she learned how to convincingly tell the tallest tales of all!
A longtime lover of ancient lore, Stephanie enjoys re-imagining myths for the modern age. She doesn’t believe that true love is ever simple or without struggle so her work tends to explore the sacred within the profane, the light under the loss and the virtue hidden in vice. She counts it amongst her greatest pleasures when, from her books, her readers learn something new about the world or about themselves.
Stephanie also writes historical fiction as Stephanie Dray and has a series of forthcoming novels from Berkley Books featuring Cleopatra’s daughter.
Visit Stephanie at www.stephaniedraven.com