There are many lengths of fiction out there. Poems can be merely a line, flash fiction and short stories no more than a page. It’s unfortunate that in terms of fiction, shorter length works have often been overlooked. An unspoken rule that bigger is better. That weightier tomes must obviously be more meaningful, deeper in their expression of humanity. And perhaps there’s a mercenary side to it
When I was working on my first book, “Under This Skin”, it became obvious that it might not end up being a novel and was more likely to be a novella. That made me feel bad. It won’t be a real novel, I won’t be a real novelist! Oh woe, woe and thrice etc etc.
But if the digital content and e-book explosion has shown anything, it’s that there is space for all lengths of fiction. Digital devices, our use of them whilst travelling and the way we read off screens mean shorter works and serialisation have found new homes and that in turn has fed back into offline books.
On top of that many great works are on the shorter side. Did you know Animal Farm, A Clockwork Orange, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, A Christmas Carol, and Of Mice and Men can all be categorised as novellas? Neither did I till I did a bit of research. After all that I no longer felt bad about the length of my book. Word counts are useful to keep track of your progress. But they shouldn’t be the deciding factor on the quality of your work.
What do you think? Is your work on the long or short side? Please share in the comments.