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citymouse
05-18-2010, 07:00 PM
I find my self in a pickle. Has anyone had this happen? And if so how did you handle it?
Iím writing a novel and I find that Iíve said all I want to. Alas, my word count is a mere 23k words. Clearly what Iíve got is a novella (just barely). My style (if I have one) is compact. I believe in an economy of words with the greatest impact. Iíve spent weeks researching my subject. Iíve read this thing many times. Iíve done my 5 senses checks. Iíve reviewed dialogues and scene structures (I draw diagrams for settings).

I have three novels in print yet I know nothing about novellas. Iíve never tried to sell a novella. Are they popular as single books? Brokeback Mountainís 64 pages comes to mind. My work come in at about 85 pages. Are novellas more often found in anthologies of similar work? Is it necessary that the genre be the same in a given collection?

Moderator: If this post belongs in a different forum please move it. :)
If anyone has any ideas, Iím all eyes.
C

Monkey
05-18-2010, 07:41 PM
Citymouse,

Yes! This is exactly what I'm going through!

I've written just over 30,000 words, and the climax has just climaxed. I had originally thought of a story line that would be a great sequel, and so I considered merging them--but that doesn't really work. The struggle in my novel starts on page one and ends where it ends, and trying to tack more to the end of that won't work.

So now I'm in subplot land. :)

Great thread, thanks for it!

citymouse
05-18-2010, 07:54 PM
Monkey, I always write my first chapter and my last. In this case I arrived at the end way sooner than I thought. On one hand I'm disappointed. On the other I'm happy with the result. I just don't know what to do with it.

I thought of posting it on my website chapter by chapter as a freebie, however, the words of a writer friend echo in my brain, "It you feel your work is valuable. Don't give it away."
C

shaldna
05-18-2010, 08:07 PM
There is definately a market for novellas, and some of them do extremely well, especially in western and sci-fi genres.

Monkey
05-18-2010, 08:31 PM
I did something similar, Citymouse.

When this book was no more than a concept, before it was even fully outlined, I knew how it had to end. The whole scene played out in my head, and I knew some of the back story that would lead up to it. It was great, it was funny, and...it came way too soon. Writing past that point is no good. That's the end.

So now I'm going back and filling in, but honestly, most of what I did this morning is crap and will be taken back out again. I can maybe squeeze a little more into the story, but the problem is that time figures prominently, and I can't just add in more time somewhere in the middle, nor can I add more to the end without going past my climax point. So I'm stuck.

citymouse
05-18-2010, 08:47 PM
Monkey, perhaps you should ask yourself if you're happy with what you've got, ignoring the length.
I'm beginning to think that I'm letting myself get hung up on what I'm used to producing rather than what I've got in my hand. Mind you, It's not easy for me. I've also got two partial novels niggling to get finished. I don't want to short change my mini-opus for the sake of unfinished work. Grrrrrrrrr. Bangs head on desk!
C

Phaeal
05-18-2010, 08:47 PM
My impression is that the novella is a bit of an orphan form. A few of the pro magazines will do them, but the huge space expenditure means they'll strongly favor well-established writers. Look in the "Don't send" lists of agents -- you'll often see the novella there. Anthologies might be another outlet. For most, I'd imagine the "well-established writer" criterion would also hold.

A collection of novellas? Maybe, though I don't see much difference between that and a collection of short stories, marketing-wise. Stephen King has put out some fine novella collections, like Four Past Midnight. Again, he's Stephen King.

So I guess I'd check out the periodicals/anthologies that will consider novellas and also publishers who consider them, then go the usual submission route.

I can't think of any sub-hundred page books that have hit it big of late. I was thinking The Christmas Box, which is actually around 130 pages. Brokeback Mountain was originally published in The New Yorker, then republished in a short story collection, Close Range. It was published again as a 64 page standalone book as an explicit tie-in to the movie (Nov. 2005). So, not an example of the novella standing on its own without extraordinary circumstances coming into play.

scarletpeaches
05-18-2010, 08:49 PM
King's novellas are as big as other people's novels.

There's a definite market for shorter works in ebooks.

slcboston
05-18-2010, 09:06 PM
I find they also are good for those of us with short atte-

ooh, shiny!

:D

Monkey
05-18-2010, 09:14 PM
Mine's over a hundred pages, but that's largely because of conversations and my habit of starting each new speaker on a new line.

I just went and took out everything I'd tried to wedge in, leaving me with 34,723 words, but I'm still not finished and there's a lot of editing to be done; some parts need to be filled in and others will, no doubt, need to be cut. The story will probably come in right around 40,000, too short for most agents.

Damn. I was really hoping that this one would be the one to land me an agent. I've had a bad experience with a small press and want to avoid small presses in the future. But maybe E-publishing will be the way to go with this one.

SPMiller
05-19-2010, 01:55 AM
Anthologies mostly buy stories from established writers, but they sometimes take relative newcomers.

Margarita Skies
05-19-2010, 03:52 AM
King's novellas are as big as other people's novels.


Wow!! That is incredible. If a novella for him is a novel for us, what would a novel for him be, an epic?

scarletpeaches
05-19-2010, 04:49 AM
Well he writes thumping great doorstoppers. Have you seen "Under the Dome" (which, incidentally, always makes me think of the Simpsons movie)?

It's about eleventy bajillion pages long. I swear, the hardback could brain you if someone dropped it on your head.

Monkey
05-19-2010, 04:58 AM
My husband came home, and I told him about the low-word count problem.

"Oh," he said, "Why not just put 'Book Two' and put a sequel along with it?"

I hadn't thought of that. I did have a sequel in mind for this book, back when I thought it would be about 40,000 words longer than it turned out. It's a direct continuation of the first, starting only days later.

I've seen quite a few fantasy novels divided into "books" this way, but what do you guys think? Would that be agentable? Or should I just finish this as a novella, forget the sequel, and start my next project?

citymouse
05-19-2010, 05:20 AM
I deliberately ended this WIP sso that it can't generate a sequel. So in that regard I'm stuck.
My three novels in print (one's been out for almost 10 years) are a series. That's a two edge sword. I feel that I heed to keep my characters and story lines going but it's a confining effort. That's why I made a departure from them. It didn't work out quite the way I expected.
Like the man says, "Experience is what you get when what you got isn't what you wanted."
C

KathleenD
05-19-2010, 05:37 AM
Speaking as someone whose first story was done at 19K, and the next one finished out at 36K, I second the e-publishing suggestion.

Your story will probably be priced according to its length, and from what I can tell digging through anecdotes and the occasional sales numbers, the two to three dollar price point actually results in more sales than full length books might get. (Ask me about that in a year - by then I will have some first hand knowledge!)

In print a novella feels thin and light, and though it costs nearly as much to produce as a more typical length book, people feel ripped off if you price it according to its production cost.

On an e-reader, heft doesn't matter - all that counts is that the story has a beginning, middle, and end.

Monkey
05-19-2010, 06:10 AM
Kathleen,

I hadn't thought of the pricing angle. That's a good point.

After my bad experience with a small press, I decided that from that point forward if a novel wasn't good enough to snag an agent, I didn't want it published under my name. Because of that, I haven't looked into e-publishing at all.

I guess I'll be spending some time in B,R&BC and at Predators and Editors over the next few weeks, and seriously considering e-publishing for the first time.

:)

Margarita Skies
05-19-2010, 06:19 AM
Well he writes thumping great doorstoppers. Have you seen "Under the Dome" (which, incidentally, always makes me think of the Simpsons movie)?

It's about eleventy bajillion pages long. I swear, the hardback could brain you if someone dropped it on your head.


Holy cow, you were absolutely right! I am looking at it on Amazon.com right now and it's 1,074 pages long!!


I looked at It and it's...holy cow, 1,104 pages! I'm considering buying these books and other King books because I'm a big fan, but I reckon it's going to take me a long time to finish reading them! Phew!

Monkey
05-19-2010, 07:02 AM
For the first time in years, I'm lost on AW.

Wow. Any tips on how to find an e-publisher that takes women's fic with a twist of humor?


ETA: I just remembered the index to publishers at the top of B,R,&BC. :e2smack:

shaldna
05-19-2010, 12:48 PM
I find they also are good for those of us with short atte-

ooh, shiny!

:D


lol

aruna
05-19-2010, 02:02 PM
Holy cow, you were absolutely right! I am looking at it on Amazon.com right now and it's 1,074 pages long!!


I looked at It and it's...holy cow, 1,104 pages! I'm considering buying these books and other King books because I'm a big fan, but I reckon it's going to take me a long time to finish reading them! Phew!

That's nothing. Try Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy: 1500 pages!

scarletpeaches
05-19-2010, 02:56 PM
In hardback! :D

aruna
05-19-2010, 02:58 PM
Useful for this:
:Headbang:

Margarita Skies
05-19-2010, 09:57 PM
That's nothing. Try Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy: 1500 pages!

Ho-ly cow!! :eek:



In hardback! :D

I could knock someone out with that one really easily. :ROFL: Not that I want to...but I could.



Useful for this:
:Headbang:


Word. :D

willietheshakes
05-19-2010, 10:01 PM
Wow!! That is incredible. If a novella for him is a novel for us, what would a novel for him be, an epic?


Holy cow, you were absolutely right! I am looking at it on Amazon.com right now and it's 1,074 pages long!!


I looked at It and it's...holy cow, 1,104 pages! I'm considering buying these books and other King books because I'm a big fan, but I reckon it's going to take me a long time to finish reading them! Phew!

I'm not sure "big fan" means what you think it means, if you were unaware of the length (even roughly) of King's novels...

Monkey
05-20-2010, 12:17 AM
*sigh*

I've sat here all day doing virtually nothing except going through every single light blue (e-publisher) link in the index of B,R,&BC, and found only a handful that sound decent and don't do Romance/Erotica exclusively.

I have a good story on my hands. It's just short. So what are my options if none of these few e-pubs pass muster?

Ruv Draba
05-20-2010, 02:13 AM
In addition to size differences, a novel has structural elements that may not appear much in a novella, and virtually never appear in a short:

Problem layering -- in which a main character is either pursuing multiple goals concurrently (e.g. solve the murder while holding together a failing marriage), or a single goal has multiple impediments that must be dealt with at the same time (e.g. solve the murder while avoiding mafia reprisal and the suspicion of the police), or both;
Subplots -- in which incidental characters have goals interesting enough to the reader to be worth following through the eyes of the viewpoint character (e.g. help a recovering alcoholic daughter through a messy marriage break-up while solving a murder, holding together a failing marriage, avoiding mafia reprisal and the suspicion of police).
If you find that you're writing short- or novella-length stories but were aiming for novel, it may be that the main story-problem is insufficiently layered, and lacks interesting subplots. If we take these things out of even the big door-stop novels, they'll often collapse down to novellas, and some might only be shorts. :)

Added: Some magazines pick up novellas, but if you want to sell it as a stand-alone publication, it had better be unusual and scintillantly-written. Having a strong rep probably wouldn't hurt either. As a theme-driven writer whose 'natural' length is novella, I've had to work up ways to layer and add subplots that don't feel like padding -- which can be quite tricky. :)

Monkey
05-20-2010, 02:34 AM
The MC has two conflicting problems and also gets entangled in a subplot, but the pacing is fast and the time limit short. :(

I think lengthening this past 40,000 isn't going to be real doable.

citymouse
05-20-2010, 03:51 AM
I've got a similar problem. I have two MCs who pursue the same goal but in different ways and for different reasons. The pace is moderated yet swift enough for the reader not to get bored. At least my #1 beta thinks so. Still, it is a scant 24k. It is a romance but not the sappy bodice ripper kind. I probably should stick to spy/intrigue. At least I can kill people and readers won't send me angry emails.:)
C




The MC has two conflicting problems and also gets entangled in a subplot, but the pacing is fast and the time limit short. :(

I think lengthening this past 40,000 isn't going to be real doable.

Ruv Draba
05-20-2010, 04:32 AM
Sympathies, Monkey!

Reading a good novella always feels to me like being locked in a broom-cupboard with something odd -- you know you'll get out soon, but first you have to thoughly feel and sniff and taste the thing you're locked in with.

That being so, I'm a little concerned that you say the pace is fast. Some old-school genres like pulp adventure or hardboiled crime fiction featured fast-paced novellas ('Locked in a broom-cupboard with the ape-men of Opar', say, or 'locked in a broom-cupboard with a speakeasy war'). But modern novellas like the stuff Ian McEwan turns out tend not to be so fast-paced (e.g. 'locked in a broom-cupboard while a gangster terrifies your family'). A lit fuse isn't too unusual in novellas, but modern authors often use suspense to heighten the tension -- and suspense slows the story down.

By contrast, a good short always reads like 'postcards from' to me -- 'postcards from when I was fired', 'postcards from when I was buried alive'; and a novel always reads like 'abducted by': 'Abducted by hobbits', 'Abducted by the Corleone family'. We grow to love our captors. :)

So as a health-check, have you locked the readers in a broom-cupboard with a single sufficiently interesting and odd experience to make them want to play with it thoroughly before they leave? If so, then perhaps what you have is indeed a novella. Your job will be to make the experience so sensual, fascinating and unforgettable that it's worth readers paying novel-like prices to sit in a cupboard for a few hours. (And perhaps this is why there aren't a lot of novellas on the shelves).

On the other hand, if you've written a terse abduction by fascinating characters the reader wants to spend more time with, you may have a novel. And if it's only postcards... you might have an overlong short (or perhaps several shorts, joined like siamese twins).

Hope that helps. :)

If you're still not sure and would like a second pair of eyes, you're welcome to send me through a synopsis and/or scene-level outline if you have one -- you could PM it or, drop me a note for my email address.

semmie
05-20-2010, 04:56 AM
I've seen quite a few fantasy novels divided into "books" this way, but what do you guys think? Would that be agentable? Or should I just finish this as a novella, forget the sequel, and start my next project?
It must be agentable to some degree because I, too, have seen a handful of fantasy works published this way.

I vote: Begin work on the sequel or the new project and let the first piece rest for a few weeks. By all means, spend some time considering your options, but don't publish in a manner that's uncomfortable for you. Maybe somewhere down the road, you would have the opportunity to publish in a manner more agreeable to you. Or...perhaps you would have a brilliant idea to edit or to combine the texts. Who knows!

Monkey
05-20-2010, 05:31 AM
Thank you so much for the offer, Ruv.

Right now, I'm still editing, and I don't want to waste your time looking at unfinished work.

The novel is humorous, and sort of a cross between silly crime (like Dortmunder) and Women's fic--it's a housewife doing break-ins and the like to keep from being suffocated by her day-to-day...she runs into a Very Bad Dude who is somewhat sensual but ends up stalking her. They end up having a sort of heist-off, each one trying to make it not worth it for the other to continue the game, but meanwhile, the MC has to protect her family from the nonsense AND keep it all secret from them.

Ruv Draba
05-20-2010, 07:37 AM
Thank you so much for the offer, Ruv.

Right now, I'm still editing, and I don't want to waste your time looking at unfinished work.No problems, Monks.



The novel is humorous, and sort of a cross between silly crime (like Dortmunder) and Women's fic--it's a housewife doing break-ins and the like to keep from being suffocated by her day-to-day...she runs into a Very Bad Dude who is somewhat sensual but ends up stalking her.
Good on you for being able to write humour -- it's the most arduous kind of writing I know. :)

This one sounds like fun! I reckon it's definitely a "get abducted by the characters" sort of story rather than a "shut me in a cupboard" thing. Regardless, you have ample scope for additional layering and subplotting here: neighbourhood impacts, P&C politics, major problems in the immediate family, unrequited lust from an investigating detective. Bigger is probably better for this, Monkey, and the more layers and subplots you can tangle, the funnier I reckon it will be. Considering that a comparable plot like the one in Mr & Mrs Smith (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0356910/) (a bored married couple is surprised to learn that they are both assassins hired by competing agencies to kill each other) is easily novel-length rather than novella, I think that 40K words means that you've under-cooked this.

Writing humour can be a marathon more than a sprint -- maybe you're fatigued and need to come back at it fresh?

Southern Girl
05-20-2010, 08:07 PM
Holy cow, you were absolutely right! I am looking at it on Amazon.com right now and it's 1,074 pages long!!


I looked at It and it's...holy cow, 1,104 pages! I'm considering buying these books and other King books because I'm a big fan, but I reckon it's going to take me a long time to finish reading them! Phew!

Yes - I was just about to add that It was just as long, but you beat me to it.

I don't know how SKing does it, honestly. But, I'll be the first to admit - I found It on my mom's bookshelf when I was a pre-teen, and I read the entire thing in no time. I loved it. He's long, but he's brilliant.

CAWriter
05-22-2010, 03:48 AM
Mine's over a hundred pages, but that's largely because of conversations and my habit of starting each new speaker on a new line.

I just went and took out everything I'd tried to wedge in, leaving me with 34,723 words, but I'm still not finished and there's a lot of editing to be done; some parts need to be filled in and others will, no doubt, need to be cut. The story will probably come in right around 40,000, too short for most agents.

Damn. I was really hoping that this one would be the one to land me an agent. I've had a bad experience with a small press and want to avoid small presses in the future. But maybe E-publishing will be the way to go with this one.

If your writing is excellent and the story is strong (although short), you may still get an agent's attention, especially if the books you currently have in print have any kind of sales record.

Greg Kincaid--author of the best-selling "A Dog Named Christmas"--got his agent with a different project that the agent passed on. He liked Kincaid's voice though and asked if he had anything else they could look at. What he had was a really long short story that ultimately became his best-selling book.

It wasn't the specific project that got the agent, but the potential the agent saw. Maybe you'll have the opportunity to cross paths with someone who sees your work that way.

Monkey
05-23-2010, 05:51 PM
Thanks for the encouragement, CAWriter. :)