For the last week, I’ve been working on another story. It’s not my usual fare, since a) it’s original (AKA not a fanfiction :P) and b) it’s one of those contemporary fictions for middle-grade readers about a girl who finds herself, but with a mystery twist.
At this point in this work’s progression, my word count is roughly 7,700 and I have roughly 40 statement-sized pages in my word processor. The problem is, I’m also fast-approaching the falling action point of the plot. Isn’t that cutting it a bit too short?
Today, I did a little bit of research on the ideal length of a published book. According to Lee Masterson, who published an article on this subject here for the Fiction Factor webzine, full-length novels tend to be between 50,000 -110,000 words. Consistent with what I’ve seen, according to another article on the Fiction Factor site, middle-grade fiction (with the exception of books like Harry Potter or Inkheart) tends to be between 100-150 pages (note that I’m expressing the count in a different unit of measure, pages vs. words).
So yes indeed, my work is too short to be considered a “real” novel. To make matters worse, it’s also too short to be a novella, which tends to be between 20,000 and 50,000 words. And don’t you think it’s pretty insulting to call that which I’ve slaved away on for a little over week and have divided into decently-sized chapters a mere short story???
The good news is, there’s a nice, happy medium in between short stories and novellas. This happy medium is called a novelette.
As I look back on the last few original pieces I’ve written, they tend to be around novelette-length, 7,500 to 20,000 words. The problem is, it’s hard to find publishers that take novelettes seriously. They’re just a bit too long to publish in a magazine of short fiction, and, as noted, they’re not long enough to be novels.
Now, I could hack and slash away at my beautiful novella until it is a condensed short story that bursts at the seams, or I could add in fillers. Ever wonder why some books are just loaded with curse words or intended-to-be-attractive-but-are-really-downright-ugly- male characters whose appearances, right down to the color of their eyes, are described in way too many words?
Needless to say, the day I do either of those things is the day J.R.R. Tolkien rises from the dead and condenses The Lord of the Rings to the length of a middle-grade novel. (Aren’t those abridged classic novels annoying?)
Some authors find it easier to publish a bunch of novelettes in one volume, but if you ask me, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with publishing a novelette as-is. Personally, at this point in my life, I’m too busy to sit down and read something as long as, say, The Princess Bride or Mort, both of which are decent-sized novels. If I had access to prude-appropriate novelettes, I’d read them for sure.
So, if it hasn’t occurred to anyone else to publish their novelettes individually, I would like to be the first.
PS. Anyone want to start a singing group with me? We could call it The Novelettes and we could perform songs like “Please Mr. Publisher” (a parody of The Marvelettes’ hit song) and cover “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles! Just kidding, of course. 😉