What is a Novella?

Having recently had my novella “Autumn Blessing” accepted as an e-book by the Prism publishers in USA (but not yet released) I have had a number of queries about the difference between a novella and a novel.
You could compare it this way: A novel is a marriage, a short story an affair and a novella as a prolonged infatuation. E.M. Forster defines the novel as a work of prose fiction not less than 50,000 words. The novella is a prose narrative long enough to be read in a single sitting. It marries the intensity of a short story to the amplitude that makes novel reading such a pleasure.

Henry James called the novella “A perfectly independent and irresponsible little fiction” but a form with powerful allure. Although “Autumn Blessing” is my first novella (all my other novels are full-length and traditionally printed) I enjoyed very much writing it. Although it is completely fictional, I wrote it in the first person because it flows naturally and much of it is in the form of a diary. My only other novel written in first person is “Esther” published by HCI in Florida and available from Amazon, where I used first person but a male voice – the head of Reuter’s in London who spends his life loving a woman he never possesses. When writing that novel I had a wide tapestry – my own experience doing a brief stint as a war correspondent in the 1982 Lebanon war “Peace for Galilee” plus my own life as a young woman in London and then my life in Israel. It was easy to fill the requisite number of pages because so much was happening.

With “Autumn Blessing”, there was too much to condense into a short story, which is usually around 1200-2000 words; but not enough to fill a novel without using a lot of padding. And often reading a full-length novel, I find all the “padding” to make up the word count, very irritating. Often you have to wade through pages of description which you often skip anyway and in telling what it was about to someone else, you can often do it in a few paragraphs. I love the freedom of the novella, which lets you tell your story succintly but doesn’t restrict you. I write tightly, without lots of unnecessary adjectives etc., so the novella works perfectly for me. The disadvantage in the past was that there were few markets, but lately several publishers are asking for them and they are very suitable for on-line publishing because they can be read at one sitting.

I always enjoy your comments and your questions. Let me hear from you. The contact details appear in this blog under About and Books.

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One thought on “What is a Novella?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Dvora, I agree with you wholeheartely about the padding. I dont like to skip descriptions, but so often they are irrelevant to the story. Only if the language is superb and the writer can make you feel, that you are there, do I enjoy reading the descriptions. Thank you for explaining the concept of a novella. Ayala

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