As writers, word counts are a very important part of writing. Why are they so important? Because the word count can determine how your piece is classified: as in is it a novella or a full-fledged novel?
For many, the difference between a novel and a novella are so miniscule that they don’t see any real difference between the two. But for many writers, those little differences can mean the world.
So what’s the biggest difference between a novel and a novella? That, again, would be the word count. A novella is typically described as a written piece of work that has a word count between 20,000 and 50,000 words. A novel is then classified as anything that is 50,000 words or more. So besides the obvious number difference in word counts are there many other differences between the two? Without getting too technical, there really isn’t much of a difference between a novel and a novella, and yet the two can cause such anxiety for writers.
Now, some of you may think I’m being dramatic when I claim that classifying a piece as a novel or a novella can be a source of anxiety, but I’m not. There are speculations amongst the writing community that novels are more popular than novellas. I’ve seen many discussions amongst writers, both published and those who aren’t, that debate the usefulness of novellas when many just want to read a fully fleshed out novel and/or series.
Yes, novellas can be very useful when a writer has a story that they can’t fit into a full novel. Many writers have started using these shorter novellas as special pieces that come either before or after a novel and/or pieces that come between novels in a series. But many question why not just include them in the novel itself? Why “waste” the time and effort to create a separate novella?
As a writer myself, I’ve struggled with the idea of a novel versus a novella. Take my current work in progress. I’ve drafted and outlined it many times and I keep coming across the same problems:
- My novel would simply be too long and crammed to include everything I want
- I can’t see this story as a series
- I can’t bear to take out a huge chunk out of my story idea
Because of these issues, I’ve actually begun writing a separate novella that would come before my full length novel. It would work as a deeper look into a major event in my character’s life that takes place before the actual novel. Have I worked out all the details yet? No. But it’s food for thought. Would you ever consider writing a novella instead of a novel? Would it be a stand alone or would it play a part in your Novel’s main plot? Let me know what you think in the comments below!