Armchair BEA: Novellas/Short Stories


Now that I own an iPad, I’ve been paying more attention to novellas. I like the idea of spending a dollar to easily pick up a quick read by a beloved author. A few weeks ago I reviewed three novellas by some of my favourite authors (Catherynne M. Valente, Rhiannon Paille, and Neal Shusterman) that filled in gaps in their series. I think this is a great use of the novella form. An author can now easily share pieces of a story that might not ever have been published. I saw a tweet where someone dismissed these types of novellas as marketing ploys. While I don’t doubt that they are in part attempts to capitalize on an author’s popularity, I think they can still be valuable stories for the invested reader. I think these three authors I’ve cited, at least, have their reader’s best interests at heart. Valente’s story, for example, was available for free online before it became an eBook. Paille and Shusterman’s stories fill in crucial information that addresses readers who wonder “But what about…”, thus making the main novels in their series more enjoyable. I will definitely keep an eye out for more of these ‘filler’ novellas from authors I enjoy in the future.

Short Stories

I don’t read as many short stories as I would like to. I can think of three collections that I own- Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things and Smoke and Mirrors and Paul Glennon’s The Dodecahedron. I read a collection last year by Theodora Goss (In the Forest of Forgetting) that I enjoyed. What each of these collections have in common is that they tell fantastical stories, providing glimpses into unusual worlds, sharing enough to intrigue the reader while leaving enough questions unanswered to ignite the reader’s imagination. The Dodecahedron stands out because all the stories are interlinked in mind-bending ways (this review on GoodReads explains the connections). I would love to read more collections like these ones, where the stories told make good use of the short story form.

  • I actually made mention of this marketing ploy in my post today. Not that all are that way but that it seems sometimes to be the case. Enjoy the rest of ArmchairBEA!

    Holly @ Words Fueled by Love

  • Love this post! I'm a huge fan of short stories and novellas. I've recently dipped into the short stories and novellas available from some of my favorite authors. To mixed results. What really irks me, though, is when a "novella" is marketed as 100 pages on a retailers site, and the actual content of the story is only 30 pages. The other 60 are marketing related. Ugh! I hope you don't run into this.

  • Thanks Andi! That would be really frustrating. >.> I've only read a handful of these ebook novellas; hopefully I will avoid ones like that!

  • Thanks for stopping by!

  • I've heard authors complaining/lamenting the push their publishers are giving them to write short stories and/or novellas between book releases, and how some of them are being pushed to write not just one, but two books a year. I cannot imagine that pressure. But, on the other hand, some say its nice to get bits and pieces of stories out there that don't necessary fit well into a book. On a different note, I'm slowly warming up to getting an iPad and this post nudges me a bit more. I bought one for my mom last year and she loves it. Me, on the other hand, I just got rid of my desktop last year and think I'm living light with just my laptop. LOL.

  • Ick, that's unfortunate to hear. I don't think anyone should be pushed to write a supplemental novella. Ideally these published stories would come about naturally – like you said, as something the author wanted to share but wasn't able to fit in elsewhere. iPads can be great for blogging also – I like not being tied to a desk. But then again, laptops are portable too 😉 Thanks for visiting my blog!

  • I love Catherynne M. Valente… I need to read more from her!

  • I've only the Fairyland books and The Orphan's Tales, but I absolutely loved them. I agree, I also need to read more! I think I'll read Palimpset next.

  • I haven't seen this floating around: "I actually made mention of this marketing ploy in my post today." But like Andi, I have had the experience of being shorted on quality or quantity when it comes to novellas.

    That's why I was particularly excited about this ABEA topic. I have been able to get a lot of great suggestions from participants this week. I now have list of the "cream of the crop" novellas!

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  • Hm, that's too bad >.> But, I'm glad to hear I could help! 🙂

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