Let’s talk about anything bookish!
A couple of days ago, one of my bookish friends and I were talking about binge reading. Well, this conversation led to talking about novellas and how she reads them as genre cleansers.
This got me thinking because I personally am not a fan of novellas. At. All. I have my reasons but first, let us explore the reasons why they are awesome (cue: Everything is Awesome).
I think the first novellas I read were anthologies written by a group of authors writing in the same genre. I distinctly remember purchasing Where’s My Hero years ago which featured Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, and Kinley MacGregor. But I admit to having not read the anthology at all. Back then, this was a way to read a sample of an author’s writing before buying the book at full price.
With ebooks gaining more popularity, some of these novellas can be bought by itself, and not as an anthology. Some are even available for free! Which is super awesome! And again, gives the reader a way to try the author first before buying a full novel.
A Full Story
A novella is longer than a short story but is shorter than a full novel. This is a great way to get the full flavor of an author’s writing without actually buying a full novel. Novellas are shorter, yes, but they also are full stories, unlike the 5-page samples that we get from the Kindle or Nook. In Historical and Contemporary Romance, the main characters always end up with an HEA. In most cases, the plots are more complicated and extensive as compared to short stories.
Character Backstories/Origin Stories
In recent years, the character backstories novellas have become really popular – especially in the Young Adult genre. We see a lot of novellas features one of the main characters’ backstories or even minor characters. As in The Assassin’s Blade, by Sarah J. Maas.
After Happily Ever After
The epologue of epilogues! This explores what happens after the last chapter or epilogue of the final full novel of the series. This provides fans a peek into what happens after the main characters get their HEA.
Another popular novella type is the other character POV. This is usually common in YA where the other main character tells his/her own POV of a scene or scenes in the main novel.
Why I’m not a fan of novellas
I’m not really sure why novellas don’t intrigue me as much. In fact, I’ve probably only read a few novellas in my life. For some reason, I almost always rate them 3 stars or less. I’m not really sure why, but here are my reasons:
Because it is a novella, it’s obviously short. But that’s the rub, I don’t like that that it IS TOO SHORT. Some of the novellas feel too rushed for me – especially those that involve an HEA.
Less character development
Although there are a few novellas that have awesome character development, some don’t. And it really sucks because I have read a few that don’t. It’s really obvious when it’s the romance genre. I mean, I honestly want my main characters to have as much conflict and romantic development.
Doesn’t catch my attention
I know novellas can be read in one sitting, but for the life of me, I usually don’t. Mostly because I easily get distracted. Again, with the shortness of the story, the plot moves really fast that sometimes I feel that there are shortcuts. Because of that, I usually can’t immerse myself in the story and get distracted.
All the backstories
I’m honestly not a fan of backstories made into novellas. I mean, I am fine with everything left to the imagination. For example, I’m not interested in finding out how Four came to be named Four or how he went to Dauntless. Heck, I’m not that interested in what Day and June did before the real story started. But that’s just me.
Do you like reading novellas? What are your thoughts about them?
Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight says
I’ll read a novella if it goes with a series that I LOVE and it’s about a character I actually care about (a lot of series have novellas about random side characters, and I don’t care enough about their story to pay money for it). But other than that, I’m not a fan either. Like you said, they’re too short, and that means there won’t be enough time for me to even get invested in the characters. And if by some chance I do get super invested, then I’m just going to be disappointed when it ends and I want more.
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I know what you mean Kristen! I have read quite a few and enjoyed reading a few, but it’s really not on top of my list! LOL
I’m a pretty big fan of short fiction, actually, though I totally understand your frustrations with it. I’m also a bit more critical of these types of works since they can so easily fall flat or feel unnecessary due to the restrictions of the shorter length, but there’s just something so satisfying in reading something that’s really well done so quickly. And then turning around and being able to reread it again even more quickly – for pleasure.
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That’s true, too! I have a few friends who love reading backstories, or just love to read a book in one sitting.
I agree that some are written very well and are ultimately satisfying my fangirl hunger, but there are also some that don’t need to be written. LOL like, not all character should have their own backstory written. XD
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction says
I’m not a big fan of novellas either, but I occasionally don’t mind backstory ones. My favorite kind of novella is the kind that’s a little bit of a bridge between two books in a series, but even those I don’t read all that often. I’m almost never interested in alternate POV novellas or in standalone novellas.
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TBH, I am getting sick of backstories. I mean, how many backstories do we need? Some of them can just be hinted in the main book and it would still give us the same effect, right?
Got My Book says
I am not a big fan of either short stories or novellas. But there have been a few I have liked (such as The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson). Interestingly enough they were almost always standalones rather than connected to a series.
I do sometimes read connected novellas, but have only liked a couple enough to consider rereading them. I really dislike it when an author does a novella that you have to read in order to understand things in the next novel.
Oh that’s true! Some of the novellas are prequels or backstories and I’m personally sick of it. sigh*
Nicola O. says
I think you left out one major downside: there are a lot of novelists who just aren’t good at writing a novella. It’s not the same kind of beast. They might be fantastic at full-length novels but just meh with a novella. I’ve seen a lot of authors really master this format, while some of their earlier works left a lot to be desired.
I used to be firmly in the camp of always wanting more. I don’t know if my attention span has gotten shorter; maybe it’s age or THE INTERNET IS RUINING ME, or what, but I can really appreciate a more bite-sized story these days. I love reading novellas in familiar worlds, and it can be a nice way to taste a new author. I try not to be turned off of an author if I don’t like a novella — because often I love their full-length work — but if you love a novella by a new author, chances are you’ve just found a new backlist to glom.
This is an awesome point, Nicola! I did miss this! ha ha! I know some are great novella writers but I’ve also read some that aren’t. And I’m personally sick of the backstories and alternate POVs.
Terri M. says
I am not a huge fan of novellas that are the .5 of any series. I’ve been burned more times than I can count with poorly realized alternate POVs or storylines in a series I’ve grown to love. Fairest is the first book of this kind that wowed me!
Novellas are a great introduction to authors you are unfamiliar with and I’ve found that for some authors it’s a great way for them to dip their toe in the publishing waters. I just finished two novellas this weekend that were well done and the author is new to the industry.
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Oh right, I forgot about that, Terri! I know novellas are nice intros to new to you authors!
I was a little on the fence about Fairest. Although, it is good, it didn’t really need to be written. 🙂