Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Short Story, Novella, Novel, etc...What's the Difference?

When I set out to write my stories in the Miscorrection series, I decided to write them as short stories. At least that is what I decided to term them. My reasoning was that a short story is short. I concluded that if you could read the whole story in thirty to forty-five minutes, then that was a short story.

But an interesting thing happened as I began diving into writing even further to get a better understanding of things. And then yesterday, via Twitter, someone sent me a short story that he wrote. Its title is Epoch’s End. It really is a good short story and takes a span of about three to four minutes. I suggest you read it, if you have the time.

This is a true short story. And really, it testifies to how challenging it can be to write a short story. Epoch’s End is a little over 900 words, and yet it is able to tell you so much as you read it.

This led me to question what I am calling the stories in Miscorrection series. Can I label them as short stories? or are they something else? After doing some research, I realized that they are not short stories at all.

According to the web site Fiction Factor, my stories are actually novelettes. A novelette consists of about 7,500 to 20,000 words. The web site says “often a novellette-length work is difficult to sell to a publisher. It is considered too long for most publishers to insert comfortably into a magazine, yet too short for a novel. Generally, authors will piece together three or four novellette-length works into a compilation novel.”

This sounds about right to me. You may have noticed that each story for Miscorrection is a part of “Book 1”. Sunrise is “Book 1 – Story 1”, Arrogation is “Book 1 – Story 2” and so forth.

In the end, when the first book is complete, will this make my stories a novel? After all, it will probably be in the 50,000 to 100,000 words range. I would have to say no, it would not be a novel. While the whole story is told and makes up “Book 1”, the writing is not in the detail that you would find in a novel. Each story is its own, and through reading each story you will see a larger story unfold.

For a more thorough breakdown of how stories are classified, check out Fiction Factor and their descriptions.