Sunday, January 30, 2005


I finished the rough draft of a story that will ultimately be a Birthday present for my wife. As she is a regular reader (hi honey!) I'm not going to go too much into the details of the plot, other than to say that it's a gothic fairy tale about an undead king and his demented descendants, featuring a deranged prince with designs on the throne and his twin sister, an insomniac princess who stumbles on his plot.

I'm working on illustrations for the story while Kevin and Jenny are reading over the manuscript. My intention is to have a few copies printed up at a local print shop, give it a semi-profeshional shine to the finished product. The story I've written, in the rough, is just a little over 10,000 words in length. Jenny says it's a short story while I say novella. So, when does a short story become a novella?

According to Wikipedia:

A novella is a story mid-way—in length (30–40,000 words) and structural complexity—between a short story (500–15,000 words) and a novel (60,0000 words, minimum). A novella focuses upon a single chain of events with a psychologically surprising turning point, e.g. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94); and Heart of Darkness (1902), by Joseph Conrad (1857–1924).

Commonly, longer novellas are addressed as novels; though incorrectly, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Heart of Darkness are called novels, as are many science fiction works such as War of the Worlds and Armageddon 2419 A.D.. Occasionally, longer works are addressed as novellas, with some academics positing 100,000 words as the novella–novel threshold. In the science fiction genre, the Hugo and Nebula literary awards define the novella as: "A...story of between seventeen thousand, five hundred (17,500) and forty thousand (40,000) words."

The matter gets hazier when you look at the guidelines of various magazines whose short story requirements vary widely (3000 - 8000 words as the outer limits). While this is a minor technical definition and of no real importance since I'll be self publishing the thing, I'm still curious since even the experts disagree. Any second and third opinions?


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