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Thread: Novels vs. Novellas: Which do you prefer?

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    Publishing Mentor dsieg58 is a Premium Member
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    Novels vs. Novellas: Which do you prefer?

    A novella (To paraphrase Stephen King in On Writing) is like a a one night stand, a novel is like a long, satisfying relationship.

    On one hand, the idea of writing quick novellas, agrees with me. Especially when they are a series and one builds upon the others. Getting a storytelling idea and pounding it out in a few days (Or weeks) is a rush.


    Novels, you have to sweat through the hardships, itís a marriage. Most of the time a good marriage, but as they say, a marriage is a lot of work.



    OTOH, it feels incomplete (even though itís not by storytelling standardsÖall the essential elements are in place) It leaves threads hanging which can be explored in depth later, but would bog down a longer story with details.


    As a reader, which do you prefer? A one night stand, or a long relationship?
    Last edited by Kay; 1 September 2014 at 5:03 am. Reason: format colour

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    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    Both!

    Novels mostly, but something shorter could be fun for a change. Just like a holiday romance, a change is good sometimes.

    Can you not have the best of both worlds by creating a series of quickies with the same character(s) set over time in different locations and/or circumstances?
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    Publishing Mentor dsieg58 is a Premium Member
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    Can you not have the best of both worlds by creating a series of quickies with the same character(s) set over time in different locations and/or circumstances?
    That's what I was hoping for this one! But a number of threads in the fabric are left undone. How about this: Write two (or ten) novellas and call them a set. Book one, and book two ends in a cliff hanger. Publish both at the same time. (I usually do it anyway and combine them into novels) at the end of book one, say something like "This novel continues in XXX with a link to the next novella. Sell them both for $1.99, or $2.99. The one downside is I know I'll have critical reviews that I "cheated" the reader by not finishing, or completing the story. of course, there is a long history of doing exactly that with serials, but I'm afraid a lot of readers will feel duped.

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    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    It's interesting you should mention cliffhangers as that was always how popular TV programmes ended, but apparently not now. We were talking to our new neighbours recently and we were reminicsing about Dr Who. (I'm not a fan.) Apparently they don't end on cliffhangers any more like they used to. Viewers habits have changed. In ye olden days, people were left on the edge of their chairs and had to wait a week to find out what happened next. These days, in the age of instant gratification, people don't want to wait. They have short attention spans and want to be satisfied 'now' or they'll look elsewhere.

    I don't know how much that applies to books. (It might even apply to pre-launch campaigns too.) I guess it's easier if the next one is ready and waiting so they can get it pretty much straight away. But it seems fairly safe to assume your customer won't be waiting patiently for you. If you don't deliver promptly, they'll look elsewhere. I've no idea how on target my take on it is - no evidence, just a general feeling about how things might be.
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    Publishing Mentor dsieg58 is a Premium Member
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    I don't know how much that applies to books. (It might even apply to pre-launch campaigns too.) I guess it's easier if the next one is ready and waiting so they can get it pretty much straight away. But it seems fairly safe to assume your customer won't be waiting patiently for you. If you don't deliver promptly, they'll look elsewhere. I've no idea how on target my take on it is - no evidence, just a general feeling about how things might be.
    I think your "feeling" is on the mark. The second book has to be ready to go and published at the same time. Which goes back to writing a novel anyway. I can think of exceptions ("24" the Jack Bauer series, The Wire, The Shield, etc.) but those were TV shows. I think if you want to book series, you would have to do it like a TV show. Each book contains a fully realized "episode" which can stand on its own as a story. Without the help of any of the other books in the series. In other words, it has to have a beginning, middle, and a satisfying conclusion. Along the way, you leave minor threads hanging which in the overall doesn't appear major to the immediate story you're telling, or have any major effect on the story until you wrap the episode up, then you pull on a minor thread at the end, and it unravels into a new adventure. (Cliffhanger) leading into the next book.

    I keep trying to think of modern day examples and the only one I can come up with is Elmore Leonard. Konrath also does it to a degree. But both write short novels (30K-55K words) with reoccurring characters, and pump out 6-10 of them a year. I agree with you, no one is going to wait for the conclusion of a story like in yesteryear. But they might wait (a short while) for ANOTHER story as it spins off in an unrelated direction. This, I think, (The same as TV) comes down to your characters. The characters themselves not only have to likable, but they have to unfold, deeper and deeper, with each tale. Which means there has to be plenty of mystery built into the character itself from the beginning, and each character needs their own plotline as well, revealing layers as you go.

    For example, with 3PP and MJ, I have two overall plotlines going, on two continents, and almost 10 characters spinning. (That's a lot of plates spinning!) It's a blessing and a curse. One one hand it allows me a lot of freedom to mix and match characters and situations. Both here in teh US and Asia. On the other, if I continue, I have to bring them all character plotlines to a satisfying conclusion, SOMEWHERE. It means it is a plotting and planning nightmare. So big, I can only break it down into small sections if I want to continue it.

    I hope this makes sense. It makes sense in my head, but it probably came out gibberish.

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    I would have understood what you meant perfectly, but for the fact you keep killing the best ones off.
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    Publishing Mentor dsieg58 is a Premium Member
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    I only killed off the ones that were meant to be killed off from the very beginning. All the major characters survived, with the exception of James Cobalt (Daddy) but he makes cameo appearances in this one as Flynn's moral compass. Sort of like the Monk was to Cobalt in 3PP. (Except he's dead)

    Speaking of which, I think you'll love Wee and Ning in this next one. Wee is a laugh riot, and Ning is a force to be reckoned with in her own right. Both of their backstories are covered. Cobalt himself is around, but not front and center. Flynn takes the stage as an immoral and flawed, but a good guy. There are also lots of loose threads I can take lots of different directions. Such as, does Flynn tell Cobalt about his father? Or that his ghost still haunts him? Or that he has a step-mother and sister, he doesn't know about? Questions still swirl about Ning's true gender. Savage and Jenkins are still around. Savage is in a Thai prison and escapes with the help of the CIA, the same with Jekins in jail in the Hague. There is a little job for them in Vietnam.Done correctly, it will lead back to Vietnam, and wrap up where it all began, at Three Pagoda Pass. Which will bring back Geri Hendrix and the Monk, as well as Mia and Mia Lynn.
    Last edited by dsieg58; 1 September 2014 at 1:19 pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kay View Post
    These days, in the age of instant gratification, people don't want to wait. They have short attention spans and want to be satisfied 'now' or they'll look elsewhere.

    I don't know how much that applies to books. (It might even apply to pre-launch campaigns too.) I guess it's easier if the next one is ready and waiting so they can get it pretty much straight away. But it seems fairly safe to assume your customer won't be waiting patiently for you. If you don't deliver promptly, they'll look elsewhere. I've no idea how on target my take on it is - no evidence, just a general feeling about how things might be.
    I agree with the above, unless you have a great series, I don't want to wait 5 years for you to finish writing your damned trilogy. I'll wait for them all to come out and read them.

    I started a series in 1980, and they finally published the final book in 2012 or so and to be honest with you I bought the last five books when they came out but I never read them because there was no way I could go back and reread the whole series every time a new book came out to refresh my memory.

    I'll read the whole series from start to finish when I retire.

    On the subject of serials, some authors seem to have that concept down from what I have read in the past. They sell the newest stories as one-offs and then package the old stories into bundles that they sell. Gives you a kick at price-discriminating consumers while allowing you to keep the money rolling in.

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    Publishing Mentor dsieg58 is a Premium Member
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    On the subject of serials, some authors seem to have that concept down from what I have read in the past. They sell the newest stories as one-offs and then package the old stories into bundles that they sell. Gives you a kick at price-discriminating consumers while allowing you to keep the money rolling in.
    Which goes back to having a backlist available. I think I'm stuck until I have a backlist of about half-dozen books available. Which means, not a series, and not a trilogy, but a set of interconnected short novels with reoccurring characters in different circumstances.

    but I never read them because there was no way I could go back and reread the whole series every time a new book came out to refresh my memory.
    Good point. What I've been doing is adding enough material that the characters stand on their own without reading any of the other books, but in some minor scenes it refers back to earlier books, or earlier situations, if a reader wants to pursue it. There is also verbiage in the front of the book that it is the third book and the "genesis" of the characters can be found in...etc. Think Elmore Leonard and Chili Palmer, or Lee Child and Jack Reacher. Not that I'm comparing my writing to either of those two, but simply the idea I'm trying to put across.

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    From memory (haven't got time to check), didn't Stephen King leave 27 years between two books in a series? David, you're the expert on King.
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