Yesterday, I finally finished a short story I’ve been working on for the past four months or so. It clocked in at a healthy 15,000 words–much longer than any of the other short stories I’ve written.
And I asked myself, “Does that make this a novella?” Because, I had no clue. I was just writing a story.
Turns out, the answer to that question is, “No.” At least according to the categories used for the Hugos and the Nebulas. (I figured those were as good a source as any.)
So, in case you were also curious, here you go:
Novel – 40,000 words +
Novella – 17,500 words to 39,999 words
Novelette – 7,500 words to 17,499
Short Story – under 7,500 words
Of course, there’s also flash fiction, which is not defined by either of those. I generally think of flash as under 1,000 words, but I don’t think that definition is universal.
And I don’t think these categories are universal. But they’re a good start.
I have never heard of a novelette; I think last time I looked the boundaries was a fuzzy line between short story and novella.
I don’t really hear folks talk about novelettes much either, but I definitely didn’t make it up. Both the Hugo and Nebula have a novelette category.
Here are the links:
Nebulas (see item 5)
Hugos (see The Categories)
I did not think you did.
I wonder if it is there to make prize giving easier rather than to represent a definite type of book, or is there a special magic to fitting a story into that word-count that is not clear to begin with?
Good question. I don’t know.
I have to say that I definitely saw a difference between the story I just wrote (15,000 words) and the other “serious” stories I’d written (5-6,000 words). Of course, I also see a difference between my stories below the 2,500 to 3,000 word mark and the ones in the 5-6,000 word range.
I imagine there’s probably another break somewhere in there if I were to try to write something even longer than the last one.