The word and concept, novella, dates back to the time of the Italian Renaissance so it is not new. Nowadays, it is a common consensus that the various literary labels for fictional written works be defined by the word count rather than the page numbers. Whereas a novel is considered by most to be 60,000 to 100,000 words, a novella is considered to be 17,500 to 40,000 words.
The novella in current times has experienced a surge in popularity among readers due primarily to the demand for electronic books. It is perfect for the electronic format as well as for people’s busy schedules. Often a novella can be read in one or two sittings.
As an author I’m asked, “Is it easier to write a novella than a novel?” My answer is no. In a novella, because of the limited word count, every word is important to fulfill the required elements that a novel must have. Character development, action, twists and turns, adversaries and conclusions must be all there, but in fewer words.
One point of contention that I have with some novellas … and I have read a lot of them … is that the conclusions to the stories are weak or nonexistent. Often the author will end their novella with ‘to find out what happens, buy my next book’. I feel cheated when I have invested my time and money in the book and it’s incomplete. Needless to say I don’t buy the next book.
When I started the Sara Connolly Mystery novella series, I wanted to make sure of three things. One: that people know what they are buying … a novella. Two: that each book is a complete book in itself. Three: although each book may have some common characters, they do not have to be read in a certain order. After just completing the eighth book in the series, I can honestly say that all three points of my criteria has been met each novella.