What is a Novella?

If you’re participating in my reading challenge this year, then you’re on the look out for a novella to read. You may be wondering what exactly constitutes a novella and sets it apart from other works of fiction.

A novella is a work of fiction between 20,000-49,999 words. For comparison, a full length novel is anything over 50,000 words but most are around 80,000. So a novella is longer than a short story, which generally falls between 1,000 and 10,000 words.

While this can’t be said for every novella, in general they tend to have fewer characters, points of view, and subplots than full length novels, and are often faster paced. Character development is usually limited to the protagonist in a novella, as full length novels can have lots of secondary characters.

Some classic novellas

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Animal Farm by George Orwell

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Some contemporary novellas

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaha Murata

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Grief is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

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