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Flashbang Fiction, Musings, News, shadow company, Shattered Lands, Writing

The art of the novella

‘Novels are the thing.’ Said the editor.

‘But I like to write shorter stories, less fluff, more action. More bosh for your dosh.’ Whined the author.

‘Novels are the thing.’ The editor huffed.

And so the debate raged well into the night. Whisky was drunk and logs were burnt. In the end they parted ways in good spirits and with sore heads.

Thus ends a story. It’s not quite a novel. Well, when I say ‘quite’ I’m being very English about that. It’s roughly 100,000 words short of the average length of a fantasy novel, and 70,000 words or so short of the average length of a science fiction novel.

“Is it a novella?” I hear you all ask. No. A novella is usually anything up to around 40,000 words, and over 17,500. Under 17,500 is a novelette and they usually start at around 7,500 words. Anything smaller than that is really a short story.

Complicated eh!

Famous examples of novellas are;

Animal Farm, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, A Christmas Carol, A Clockwork Orange, I Am Legend (NOT the film), Of Mice and Men and … The War of the Worlds. All novellas. All greats.

Now, I’m not deluding myself that I can write a great such as those. Although it is possible. But what I do know is that I write good short stories, and good collections of short stories.

In Blaise Maximillian: Emancipation, the story dealing with the Siege of Paris could be considered to be a novella in a collection of short stories.

That’s not to say I haven’t written books of other sizes. Practical Taekwondo: Back to the Roots is a training manual and Torquemaster Rising is a novel that’s currently being considered for further consideration (yes, I know, but it’s true) by Baen. But … and this is the nub, I like writing shorter stories. Punchier stories.

Which is why, as I’ve previously announced, I’m going to be having a go at writing novellas based around the Shadow Company. They’ll be punchy. Stabby. Shooty. Sweary. Killy. There will be a small amount of fluff, but since they’re currently all set in the ‘real world’ (oooooh, spoiler alert!) there’s no real need for doing much world building.

I’m really enjoying writing them; so much so that I have two on the go. One I’m writing from scratch and is based upon (some) of my experiences in Kolkata. The other is most certainly not and uses material I’ve written previously but which slots nicely into this universe. Both will be available under the Alternative Realities banner, and one or both might even be made free to people who sign up for our newsletter.

I’ve even come up with a brand for them; ‘Flashbang Fiction’.




About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7.


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