How Long Is A Novella?

When it comes to publishing books, the average length of a novella is influenced by the genre. Most sci-fi epic novels are much longer than romance novels.

While there is no specific rule as to how long a novella should be, there is a general understanding of which length of writing fits under which umbrella. 

How Long Is A Novella?

This article will explore how long a novella, short story and novelette are. 

How Long Is A Novella, Novelette And Short Story?

While there is no definitive answer to this question, the short answer is as follows: 

  • A novella is usually somewhere between 17,500 words and 40,000 words. 
  • A novelette is shorter than a novella, somewhere between 7,500 and 17,500 words. 
  • A short story is even shorter than a novelette, and it is less than 7,500 words long. 

Why Is A Novella This Length?

Usually, the novella is between 17,500 words and 40,000 words because it is in between a novel and a short story.

The length of a novella is usually set with the target audience in mind, as well as many other different factors. 

The reason that a novella is shorter than a novel is that there are certain aspects that are not present in the novella that would usually be present in a novel.

Multiple viewpoints are examples of this.

In a novel, you would often get adaptable viewpoints, whereas in a novella, you will usually have a much simpler narrator. 

As well as this, you will often see subplots in a novel that will not be present in a novella.

Instead, the novella often focuses specifically on certain themes, characters and aspects of the plot.

Why Is The Word Count Of A Novella So Important?

Word count often indicates how well something is written. If the story drags on and on without actually saying much about the plot or characters, or driving the storyline forward, then the words will be wasted. This is why the length of the story is important. 

When you are writing a story, the main reason that a word count will matter is when you are looking to have this story published.

Often, things like literary magazines, which are often where you will get novellas published, are very strict on the number of words that they will accept.

Publishers are very fussy about word count because they want to make as much profit as possible from the things that they publish. 

If you are looking to publish one of your first pieces of work, it is rare that publishers look to take on novellas because they are expensive to edit, design and market.

If you are a successful or established writer, then you will have more of an opportunity to be flexible with writing novellas, as well as the word count.

When it comes to publishing mainly as ebooks, there is less importance placed on the word count, and the distinction between novel and novella.

This is because, as you can’t see the physical book, you won’t have to label the book a novelette, novella or novel.

Features Of A Novella 

The word count of a Novella is anywhere under 40,000 words. A story that is any longer than this will be considered a novel. Aside from word count, there are many features that make a novella able to be defined this way. These include:

  • Plot. The plot of a novella is very important, it is often very engrossing and complicated. While it is not usually as complicated as a novel, it is a very important part of the novella. The beginning and end of a novella are essential to the formation of the plot, and you should ensure that the story runs true and that there is no fictional error in the writing. 
  • Characters. The characters in a novella are usually very strong and they are real and genuine characters. 

The word count of a novella can vary greatly, there are long and short novellas, but the general idea of a novella is the same. How long yours is will depend on the plot and characters.

What Makes A Novella Unique?

A novella in a medium length piece of writing which contains a plot and good character development. Novellas focus less on the backstory, and more on the one main character. 

Novellas are popular across a lot of different genres, including horror, romance, sci fi and mystery. 

Novellas are often released as part of a collection, or in magazines and literary journals. 

How To Write A Novella

If you are attempting to write a novella, the first thing that you will need to consider is whether your idea fits best into the novella form. If your answer is yes, then you should follow these steps to write your novella: 

  1. Create a central character. Usually, a novella will focus on one main character. You should make sure that you are creating a strong central character that you know inside out. This character will be the main gateway into your story, if not the only one.
  2. Focus on one or two relationships. It is very important to define the important relationships within your novella. You don’t have much space for lots of different relationships. 
  3. Decide on the main plot. You should make sure that you have a clear plot before you start writing and what structure you are going to follow to make sure that you can stick to your narrative.
  4. After this, you should write your story and characters. Make sure that you stick to the word count as much as possible, and don’t sway from the narrative for too long. 
  5. You should then edit your story and revise the writing to make sure that you haven’t wasted any words.

Final Thoughts 

The length of a novella can be anywhere between 17,500 words and 40,000 words. The novella is somewhere in between a short story and a novel. 

Sophie Andrea