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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, and several other journals. I have essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. In December of 2016, The Mondegreen nominated my story "Santa Lucia" for a Pushcart Prize. I've written a novel entitled Purple Loosestrife and a novel entitled Hoping It Might Be So, both of which I am submitting to agents and publishers. I'm working on a novel called Dark and Bright as well as a book called Violets Are Blue: Essays About My Bipolar Life. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Novella

Two of my favorite works of literature are Death in Venice by Thomas Mann and Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx. I consider both of these excellent works to be novellas.

It seems to me that the e-book publishing industry has made the novella quite popular, and I'm glad this is the case. I think it's a great length for a work of fiction. You can read it in one sitting if you so choose, or you can pick it up and put it down at your leisure--the chapter breaks that many novellas have make it possible to find good places to stop and then start again.

As a writer, you have a good amount of time to develop your characters and theme, but you obviously have a shorter story than you do in a novel. Since there's less to write and edit, you can potentially write a novella faster than you would a novel. However, I don't imagine that this is always the case. I've had short stories that I've labored over for a long while, so I could see taking a lot of time to develop and finish a novella. I think it all depends on your story and how you work as a writer. Further, I don't think a novella, just by virtue of being shorter than a novel, is necessarily easier to write. You don't have as much time and space to do what you want to do, so you have to be economical and yet thorough and complete within a shorter span. Knowing what to put in and what to leave out is very important. You have to be willing to kill your darlings when you're writing a novella.

I haven't yet written a novella, but I'm thinking of doing so. I have an idea that's floating around in my mind that I think would make for a good novella. I don't pretend that it will be easy to write, however. Not the way I work. I'm neither a particularly fast writer or reader. I labor over things I write and read. You can take the girl out of the undergraduate and graduate programs in English, but you can't take the undergraduate and graduate programs in English out of the girl! I write and read much like I did as an English student getting my B.A. and M.A. degrees. I write and read as though I'm going to be graded on what I'm doing, so I really put my all into these activities. Hence, writing a novella should be as much of an adventure as writing anything else. I have a feeling it will go faster for me than writing a novel, but probably longer than writing a short story.

6 comments:

  1. Excellent post. I've found novellas faster to write, but as you say, you do have to crystallize the important points into a good read. There's no space for expanding or sidetracking. Do try one, Emily because sometimes your readers want more and you haven't gotten more than part way through a long novel. Voila. A novella might be the answer (if you can write short). Some people (one of my crit partners for example) just cannot write short. No waffling!

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    1. Thanks, Vonnie! Actually, my novel is done--I'm just editing little things, tweaking, proofing, that sort of thing. So I've written long and know I can do it. I have to try the "in-between" of the novella! I can write short story after short story, so since I know I can write long as well (my novel as well as my master's thesis), I think a novella will soon be in the works!

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  2. Great post, and I can relate. I haven't written a novel yet, and I prefer writing short stories, but more and more I find myself writing novellas. Like I said, I know what you mean.

    Stan
    (SS Hampton, Sr., Musa author)

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    1. Thanks, Stan! I've written and published short stories, and I have a finished novel that I'm editing and proofing and preparing to send to agents, but I still have to write the "in-between"--the novella!

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  3. I'm a huge fan of the novella! I've written and published five of them now and have plans to write more in the future. It can be hard to keep it short while still fully developing the plot, characters, and theme(s). It's a fun challenge though!

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    1. Kara, I do think writing a novella will be a fun challenge. They're an interesting length. Kind of like the book equivalent of a mini-series! :)

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