Monday, October 16, 2017

Novellas: Dead or Alive? By Jacqueline Seewald

Recently THE WRITER MAGAZINE ran an excellent article entitled “Novellas:  Stepping stone to success or waste of time?” Since my novella THE BURNING is now available in pre-order and will be published November 8th, I kind of like to think this is not a dead art form. Or as Mark Twain so cleverly quipped: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Just so you know, a novella is written fictional prose normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel, and usually somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 words, although it can be a bit longer or shorter.

For those who would like to try writing in this length, be aware that novellas are more complex than short stories yet leaner and more focused than novels. 

In a NEW YORKER article in 2012, Ian McEwan stated:
“I believe the novella is the perfect form of prose fiction.” Yet even famous writers like Stephen King have lamented that the novella gets no respect (forgive me for borrowing, okay stealing, Rodney Dangerfield’s best line). 

THE ATLANTIC also ran an interesting article in April 2012 about the return of the novella in which Joe Fassler described it as “an unfairly neglected literary art form practiced for centuries by celebrated writers.”

It is true that the novella hasn’t been a particularly commercially successful format. Too long for most magazines and journals, yet too short to satisfy novel publishers, the genre can languish. Still, my first novella, LETTER OF THE LAW, was published with some enthusiasm last year in SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY MAGAZINE.


 I was also fortunate to find a publisher who found my novella THE BURNING worthy of publication. Now I have to hope it will also find a readership. Simple enough? Don’t I wish!

As mentioned, on November 8th, THE BURNING will be published by Annurlunda Enterprises. The Burning is based on a play I wrote that won the Playhouse 22 Playwrights Award (in the late 1980’s) and was performed on stage.

THE BURNING is faction, part fact, but also fiction, about what happens to a family in Pennsylvania as the result of a coal fire burning under the town. Members of the Ferris family face his or her personal hell, barely coming through it alive, forced to acknowledge painful truths. It’s based on real events that occurred in Centralia. Unfortunately, such problems continue to plague coal-mining communities in different places. And there are no easy answers.


The publisher has provided this novella with the following blurb:
 George Ferris has worked hard to make a good life for himself and his family without going into the coal mines that shortened his father’s life. Now, a slow-moving catastrophe is threatening to take it all away. How far will he go to protect everything he has worked for? And will he realize what really matters before it is too late? Inspired by true events.

Here is a brief excerpt from the novella:


George drove home on autopilot, detached, barely aware of his surroundings. The talk with Baines kept turning over in his head. He’d worked so hard for so many years to provide a good life for his family. Was that going to end now? The whole thing seemed crazy. Could some underground fire wreck his life and that of his family? He shook his head, refusing to accept this as inevitable.
The living room of George Ferris’s house usually offered a refuge, but he didn’t want to walk inside yet. Instead he stood in the front hallway praying for composure while silently lurking. He could see Amy was sitting on the sofa attentively reading a book, feet tucked under her.
Every so often, she coughed. Liz came into the room. She was dressed in brown slacks and a casual cream-colored blouse. He admired how beautiful his wife was. With her natural good looks, she wore very little make-up and didn’t need it. George was reminded of how much he loved her. Liz was the real deal. What would this news do to her? She deserved so much better in life. For a few minutes, he watched Liz straightening up the room, but then she stopped to listen to Amy’s recurring cough.

THE BURNING is now available for pre-order both in print and as an e-book. Check out the details from the publisher at: 


or:

https://www.amazon.com/Burning-J-P-Seewald/dp/1944354263 
or:

or:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-burning-j-p-seewald/1127102724?ean=9781944354268 
 
or:
 
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-burning-38
 
or:
 
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/753033
 
 

Your thoughts and comments most welcome!

16 comments:

  1. Personally, I'm more interested in the content of a story than its length. But, with the short attention span of people today, I think we may see the novella coming into its own. Incidentally, I live just a half dozen or so miles from Centralia and covered the story in my newspaper days. So your novella has a special interest for me. Wishing you success with it.

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  2. I hope you sell tons of copies of your novella. I write novellas in the romance genre. I team up with other authors and indy pub boxed sets. The sets sell really well, especially the Christmas ones.

    Your novella sounds interesting! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Interesting perspective on novellas, Jacquie. I've enjoyed reading and writing them, and after this discussion I'll look more closely into publishing them. Good luck with your new publication..

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    1. Thank you, Susan. There are several publishers, admittedly small and literary for the most part, that publish novellas. Check via Google.

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  4. I've always believed that a book should be just as long as it needs to be to tell the story correctly. That said, I think novellas are a harder form to write than full-length novels. Of course, I am one of those hyper-verbal types who who has difficulty saying 'good morning' in less than 200 words. Susan, aka Janis

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    1. Susan,

      I write novels, short stories and novellas. Each form has its own benefits. Sometimes a short story format isn't long enough and other times a full length novel is just too long for a particular work.

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  5. Jacquie,
    I agree with John that we may see an increase in novella sales due to the decreased attention spans of many people today. A mixed blessing. I hope yours sells well. If you wrote it, I know it will be great!

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    1. Patricia,

      Thank you for your kind compliment! I agree with you about the decreased attention level of many of today's readers.

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  6. An informative piece and good for thought for those of us who are So immersed in the novel format.

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    1. Thank you, Betty. I think novellas do have relevance for today's readers.

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  7. The Burning sounds riveting and relevant! Best of luck with your novella.

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    1. Thank you, Susan. I hope you decide to read it.

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  8. Great post Jacquie! I doubt novellas will ever be obsolete. Too many people like reading shorter works. Glad you found a publisher for your new book. Good luck and God's blessings
    PamT

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    1. Thank you, Pam. Your continued support is much appreciated. I also agree with you that novellas will continue to have a place in literature.

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  9. Interesting post. Congrats on your new release.

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