To Write or Not To Write Short #amwriting

by Kassandra Lamb

Hi all!  Marcia and I thought you might find my guest post interesting. I’m over at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University today, talking about the pros and cons of writing short stories and novellas versus full-length novels.

Please check it out (and share if you are so inclined).

To Write or Not To Write Short?

a SomedayIsHere FINAL

Short stories, novellas, novels—what’s the best route to go as a fiction writer? Are there advantages to writing short?

This is a more complicated question than it may seem to be on the surface. There are several factors to consider:

● The definition of a short story vs. a novella
● The appeal of writing short for the author
● How readers feel about short stories and novellas vs. full-length novels
● The benefits of shorts for authors
● The bottom line: how much can you make off of shorts?

In order to give you more than just my take on writing short, I surveyed several authors from various genres. I’ve included their experiences along with my own, and in some cases, quoted them when they said it better than I could.


First let’s define our terms. A novel is considered to be full-length if it is at least 40,000 words. A novella is usually defined as 17,500 to 40,000 words. Technically, a short story is under 7,500 words.

There is this thing called a novelette that is 7,500 to 17,500 words, but the reality is that readers have rarely heard of this term. The 12K novelette I published several years ago is almost always referred to as a short story in reviews, and even my 25K novellas are sometimes viewed as short stories by readers.

So perhaps we should be defining short versus long differently. A “short” story, regardless of its length, is one with a simpler story arc, few if any subplots and simpler character arcs for its main character(s).

The Appeal of Writing Short:

To put it bluntly, it’s quick and easy… READ MORE

25 thoughts on “To Write or Not To Write Short #amwriting

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your guest post today, Kass! I devoured it, as I am considering writing a Riverbend novella, as soon as I get That Darkest Place released. I want something “out there” fairly quickly, to make up for the fact that it took me so long to finish this one. I figured a novella would be perfect, and then I can move on to the next Wake-Robin Ridge book.

    I was grateful for all the knowledge you included, right down to the word length differences between short stories, novellas, and novels. I tend to write long books, at 95,000 to 125,000 words, so I’m happy to learn that 100 to 150 pages falls within the guidelines for a novella.

    I would have been glad to leave a comment under the original post, but I there was no way to do so, hence my coming back here. Great post, great info! Shared, too. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glad you got something out if it, Marcia. Sorry you had trouble leaving a comment.

      I think novellas would work well with either of your series. They are a great way to keep readers happy while you are writing the longer books.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There was a character who passed through in Finding Hunter, Gabe Angelino (the trucker), and I think it would be fun to explore him a bit more, but not necessarily fun enough to warrant a whole novel. And since I’d like to get another new thing out there fairly quickly, a novella just might be the answer. Great timing with this post! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I have just completed my first ever novellas, having only previously written long novels and short stories. I didn’t plan them, they both evolved into around 27,000 words. They do have links to the novel I am writing and I agree with Marcia it would be fun to writer novellas for characters from my other novels. Now I’m off to read the full article by Kassandra.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good for you! I am looking forward to trying my hand at something shorter, too. A perfect way to round out a few secondary characters. And sometimes, it’s nice to write something just for the sheer pleasure of it, right? I’ve been wanting to tell folks more about Gabe for a while, so why not? Hope yours does well for you!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Congratulations! That’s a great length. Long enough to fully develop the plot and characters but still a shorter read.

      And you two have given me an idea. I may write a short for my second series, the one about service dogs, starring my protagonist’s best friend, who just started dating someone new in the last full-length novel.

      Liked by 2 people

      • See, I think that’s a perfect way to give a secondary character a bit more “stage time,” even if you don’t think he/she needs an entire book. Plus, there are always some readers who really like these minor characters, and will be interested in reading more about them. So you kind of have a built-in audience who’d love the idea. Several of my favorite urban fantasy series do this from time to time. I say, let’s all try it, then compare experiences afterward.

        Of course, being the wordy ol’ gal I am, it will be difficult for me to restrain myself, but I’m willing to try. It’s worth it. A few extra covers out there won’t hurt. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        • I was afraid of that too, Marcia, that I’d be too wordy, but I find the novella length is not hard at all. You just have a few less twists and complications. Now short stories I do have trouble with. Can’t seem to get the word count that low.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I only write short stories myself, and as I don’t seek to earn money from them, I can be unconcerned about their popularity. One thing that always stays with me though, is that some of the best Stephen King adaptations are from short stories, or more accurately, novellas. Sometimes, the best ideas come in small packages.
    (I love that house in the header photo. Is that your house? TWO wraparound porches, top and bottom. I am very jealous!)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, how I wish that were my house, Pete. That is actually DeBary Hall Historic Site. I’m hosting an afternoon tea there next Saturday, (scroll down a wee bit for the post) and thought I’d feature the mansion in my header this week.

      You never know what might come of shorter works, do you? Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds, was actually based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier, for instance. I say write what feels good to you, whether you are hoping for sales or not. That way, you’re happy, and if sales come along, too, yay! Of course, some of us would like to make a living of sorts out of books, and probably have to take that into consideration, but I suspect if you write a good story, long or short, and you market it right, you can find readers. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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