Saturday, 28 May 2011

The beauty of short stories and novellas

To my mind, short stories and novellas have advantages whether you write them or read them.

As a reader, you can explore writers new to you without investing too much time or expense. You can take a chance. You can explore new genres. If you’re short of time, novellas and short stories can be a wonderful way to switch off.

Short stories and novellas can give a very intense reading experience. Focusing on just a few characters and settings, the reader is quickly drawn in. there are no wasted words, no incidental plots, no distractions.

Writers can also exploit these advantages, because the shorter forms are becoming increasingly popular with the growth of ereaders, audio books and so on.

Short stories to me are jewelled moments – very intense, a moment of revelation or decision. I’ve recently put together a collection, A Rose of Midsummer and other Stories, and put them on Smashwords. I’m hoping to do more later, as a Christmas collection.


Novellas are fun to write, particularly in the romance genre. As Linda Banche said in her post this week, the romance novella gives the writer a wonderful chance to home in on the hero and heroine and their relationship. Any sub-plot can have a direct impact on their love, testing it and in some cases throwing them together so it can develop. My own novellas, A Secret Treasure and Holiday in Bologna, both use external threats to add to the romantic tension between my heroes and heroines.

If you fancy something a touch hotter, there are my Siren shorties set in ancient Rome, too.

So don't give up on the full-length novels, but long may the novella and the short story flourish!

12 comments:

Delia Latham said...

Good post, Lindsay! I am working on my second novella now, and discovered with the first one that I love writing these short stories. You're right about them being prime material or e-readers, which is a great thing in today's flourishing electronic market. Easy write, easy read...what's not to love? :)

John Klawitter said...

I agree, you can get a decent notion a writer can write at all from a short story. However, a short story format is not a very good indication if or whether a writer can write a good novel. Conversely, if a novelist can't hook a reader on the first page, all is lost.

But that's just my opinion.
best, John Klawitter

Linda Swift said...

Lindsay, I've gotten way behind and just now learning that you are doing novellas and short stories. I agree that more and more publishers are asking for shorter books and I, too, think this is due to ereaders popularity. One publisher I have dropped min. word count from 50K to 25K to meet the demand. And Smashwords has had a great influence also. Everythig is going faster and faster, and I for one am dizzy trying to keep up!
Thanks for putting the spotlight on this issue. Linda

Savanna Kougar said...

"Short stories to me are jewelled moments"

Lindsay, a beautiful and precise way of describing it.

Kudos to you on all your success ~ short stories, novellas and novels.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

I love the rebirth of short stories and novellas!

Vonnie said...

I particularly agree with the point about giving readers a glimpse of new authors. That's the value I see in them, as well, of course, because of the growth of e-readers etc. But I read novellas in particular to suss out the style of new authors, what their theme is and whether their voices suit me.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Vonnie - finding new authors is one of the great joys of reading novellas and short stories.

Hi Julia - I love the rebirth, too - it's a wonderful thing to see and be part of, isn't it?

Thanks, Savanna, your own writing is wonderful, too - potent, sensual, original, gripping - at whatever length you choose to write.

Hi Linda S - lovely to see you! I think this change is reader driven, as more people buy ereaders and ipads. Novellas are super to read on kindles - I know that from experience. And so easy to buy!

Hi John - great to see you here. I agree a short story can really showcase that aspect of a writers' craft. Novel writing is a slightly different skill. To me it's the difference between writing a symphony or a chamber work. I started off novel writing - big story arcs, lots of subplots, lots of settings, many characters - and had to learn how to write shorter.

So vital about that intriguing first page! I agree!

Hi Delia, super to have you here. Short stories and novellas are lovely things to write, I agree. They are also a lovely way to find other writers.

Thanks everyone! Thanks for taking part in this last week of novellas and short stories and for making it so fun and interesting.

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Lindsay, it's funny that only a very few years ago, I read an article that talked about how short stories were dying, how few magazines still published them, how few publishers would accept a book of short. And then they blossomed all over! Nice to see, as they do have such value.

Love that you use external forces in your shorts to test your characters. ;-)

Anne K. Albert said...

Hi Lindsay, very timely article as e-readers and cell phone users are now demanding more short stories for their commutes to and from work. Well done!

Linda Banche said...

Hi Lindsay, I certainly hope shorter stories take off. I like to read my books all at once to get the entire effect. With a shorter work, I can read the entire one in an evening.

Put your Siren shorties up on Smashwords!

Celia Yeary said...

LINDSAY--FIRST, I want to say that your covers are absolutely gorgeous. I don't know who does them, but they are just outstanding.
Remember waaaaay back in our college days, we had an entire section of English Literaturs on the Short Story. We read many, and discussed them to death. At the time, being foolish and uneducated as I was, I thought...these are just a waste of time.
But now we have Masters of the short story, and we still study them in University courses...I think.
Then they sort of died away, and now look what the eBook industry is doing for the short story. No doubt, there are tons of worthless blatherings out there, but if we know what and whom to look for, we can find wonderfully entertaining shorts. Yay us!
Loved your post...and I also want to say I appreciate your 100% positive attitude, and the fact you always help others. You are truly one of a kind.
Celia

Lindsay Townsend said...

Celia - thank you - you've got me blushing here!
And your comments re short stories are as apt and perceptive as ever.

Re covers - I'm lucky in that Jinger Heaston does a super job for Bookstrand, and Kensington do a smashing job with the 'knights'. I'm also fortunate in that my hubby is a keen photographer and he's kindly donated some of his photos for my smashworded work - the Night cover is a photo he took in Rhodes and the rose on the short stories at the top of the page is one he grows in our garden.

Linda - I agree that being able to devour a while story in a sitting is a wonderful thing about novellas and short stories. I read your 'Misteltoe Everywhere' in one lovely sitting.

Hi Anne - thank you, I appreciate your comments. I agree re the iphones and other markets - all super for the short story genre.


Loraine - blossoming is so right!It's such an exciting time for readers and writers now, so much choice.

Thanks to all for taking part in these last few days! I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.