Monday, August 22, 2011

Literary terms

I was introduced to a new literary term yesterday, and I'm not sure I like it. The 'novelette', apparently, is something between a short story and a novella in length. It fits into the word-length family as follows:

Twitterature: Up to 140 characters^
Flash fiction: Up to 1,000 words

Short story: Up to 7,500 (5,000) words
Long short story: 5,000-7,500 words*
Novelette: 7,500- 17,500 words
Novella: 17,500 - 40,000 words
Novel: Over 40,000 words

according to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. But, as this Wikipedia article points out, varies according to genre. Jane Smiley says that novels are typically 100,000 - 150,000 in length.

What am I writing now, I wonder. It is composed of short stories and novelettes...with a novella infill. Maybe I shall call it a novelomerate.

*Categories in red are a refinement added later in response to Jim's comment.
^Also added later in response to Paul's comment.


Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

Ha! This reminds me of when they used to call female undergraduates "undergraduettes". (A moniker it sounds as if could be applied to Ann Hathaway in One Day from the reviews - not to the character in the book though).

I hope the novelette will not catch on - it was used in the old days as a slightly snobby term for cheap romances read by women. I suppose "chick-lit" has now taken over for that - though according to the Bookseller the official term for chick-lit is "women's commercial fiction".

Mon Aug 22, 09:23:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Not heard that one, Maxine! Strikes me that it is a diminutive - so the undergraduate one especially rankles. To me it has hygiene connotations, too e.g as in towelette.

I didn't know 'women's commercial fiction' meant chicklit either! I should have, though...what else could it be?

Mon Aug 22, 12:13:00 pm  
Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

Of course we now have flash fiction to add into the mix and that goes up to 1000 words generally. There's also the long-short story - a short story of more than average length (whatever 'average' means).

Mon Aug 22, 12:57:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes, Jim. I was wondering whether to add 'Flash' fiction, but the jury seemed to be out in terms of length so I bowed out. I think I'd agree with you, though (1000 words).

And strange you should say that about the long short, because my source told me that the short story is up to 5,000 words and the novelette over 7,500, and so I said - what about stories 6,000 words - and 'long short story' is exactly what he said!

Anyway, thanks for the comment. I think I shall modify accordingly.

Mon Aug 22, 01:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aren't these all just terms used to help book publishers classify writing in order to properly market it? What might we writers come up with instead?

Mon Aug 22, 10:13:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Could well be, Mary. I think we writers write first and classify later :-)

Mon Aug 22, 10:44:00 pm  
Blogger Paul Halpern said...

May I add "Twitterature" into the mix -- stories of less than 140 characters.

Tue Aug 23, 02:59:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thanks Paul! Yes, good idea - I'll add this to my list. That sounds like quite a challenge.

Tue Aug 23, 07:58:00 am  
Blogger Kay Cooke said...

Plenty of room for scope ... I just need to get beyond long short story I think ... I'll get there, but it's going to take some time. (In between I'll write poems, they are mostly always short). :)

Thu Aug 25, 09:17:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Ha! Quality not quantity is what's important, I reckon, Kay! (so I think you have nothing to worry about).

Thu Aug 25, 10:54:00 am  

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