Thursday, July 19, 2012
Being Caught short: the novella
It was like this. Having spent ten years writing Azimuth and pouring into it everything I could regarding the metaphysical, the fabulous, the adventurous and the quirky so that it became an adult’s fairytale without fairies but with gods and heroes; no that sounds a bit of a put-off, as well – allegorical, that’s the word. Oh, read it and be enthralled and tell me what it is! Anyway, like any long term relationship come to an end, I soon needed the thrill again. So I wrote Through a Mirror Clear: a Gothic Love Story about taboo in family life. Meanwhile, I continued to market books through these blogs and tweets but the old yearning took over again and I have just today finished Sex: Future Imperfect, a science fiction novella.
Novellas are an interesting form. You haven’t time to really develop characters through action but have to make them rounded enough to be believable, immediately. It’s akin to going to a party and chatting with someone and ending up in bed with a relationship to look forward to, it seems so right. They must jump off your page ready formed in the same way. Also, in my case there has to be more of a sense of the ending at the outset to help drive direction. Normally I refuse to think about it, wanting the characters and the events to push the plot along and discover for myself the ending almost at the same moment as it comes into sight on the page.
In novellas, too, there is a bounty placed on every word you don’t use. Spareness counts. The plot drags you in and spits you out, even if it is a psycho-drama. In the case of science fiction, a future world has to be painted in a few sentences and it must be sufficiently technological for the reader to feel that time has moved on and that it is a believable step away from the present. Anyway, I suppose the novella should feel that it could have been a fully-fledged novel but there has been a distillation which gives it the punch of a glass of spirit.
From what I’ve read, the novella is the medium with the message for today’s computers who want to read a whole story in a day. The sound byte generation. We shouldn’t be snooty about it. At the end of the day we are providing a service, a refueling of the imagination.
All the books mentioned above can be found at:
and in one form or another on Amazon Kindle where I write as both Jack Sanger AND Eric le Sange