What is a novella?
It's been an interesting journey recently with my writing. I have discovered that writing shorter horror fiction has helped me find new ways of being, well, creepy. I have been cranking out short stories for Amazon Kindle, but also for my upcoming podcast and a future collection of short fiction. However, it's been the realization of the novella that has been the most eye-opening.
Wait - a what now? What is a novella?
Well, the literal definition of a novella is a short novel. It usually runs somewhere around 17,500 - 40,000 words. Below that is something called a novelette which runs about 7,500 - 17,500 words. Below that you got yourself a short story and above those, you have a full-on novel. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Anything below that of a novel is "short fiction."
Some of the best and most well-known stories of the 19th and 20th centuries were actually novellas. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad which eventually became adapted into the novel Apocalypse Now is a novella. Who Goes There (also Frozen Hell...it's complicated) which later became The Thing is a novella. Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck is actually a novella.
I wrote my first one a few years ago and was my nod to H.P Lovecraft. I found it helped focus the story for me more. By deliberately narrowing the focus of my story into a shorter tale, I cut out a lot of the excess and created a tighter, more cohesive tale. I still wanted to write epics and wrote a few. But one of the scariest and best-reviewed stories of my career is Strange Fruit and the Slenderman which is definitely a novella.
In my last collection of short fiction (When the Night Comes Out) I had a novella called The Well. I sent that collection out for others to read and comment and every one said one of their favorites was The Well. It's a strange, creepy, story that delves into some similar ideas to my new novel The Wraith. But it's tighter, more direct.
I still like writing full lengths. I have to finish writing my Elementals series and get that third one out now that half the young adults who read the first two are probably in college and have kids of their own. I have two novels in the pipeline ready to come out in 2020. But, I think I am going to delve into writing novellas a bit more now. I have several ideas for stories I could not quite work into full-length novels and suddenly I think I can work the into that 17,500-40,000 word range.
I hope you like what I put out. Don't worry, you fans of the longer stuff will still get it. But you fans of shorter horror fiction may enjoy these new stories. I will do my best to scare you.
My latest novella is The Hidden Library, a supernatural psychological thriller out now in print and for Kindle.