EXPLORING WHEN, HOW AND WHY I USE CERTAIN FICTION FORMS
Most people are familiar with the fiction forms of novels and short stories. However, there are three other forms which exist and are on the rise amongst many writers these days; the novella, the novelette and flash fiction.
While none of these three fiction forms are new, they are different from their more contemporary counterparts. In this blog post, I will distinguish those differences and explain why and when I choose to use them in my own writing.
The average word count for novels will vary based upon genre and who you ask. The word count which constitutes these other fiction forms will also vary, however there is a general range that’s accepted and I am illustrating the range which I use.
- Novels: Works of fiction which are 50K+ words in length.
- Novellas: Works of fiction which fall between 20K and 50K words in length.
- Novelettes: Works of fiction which fall between 7K and 20K words in length.
- Short Stories: Works of fiction which fall between 1K and 7K words in length.
- Flash Fiction: Works of fiction which are fewer than 1K words in length.
Why I Use Certain Fiction Forms
Let me first say that I encourage writers to explore ALL of the various forms of fiction at least once. DO NOT limit yourself based upon the preferences of another writer or their suggestions. That said, I mostly untilze the following fiction forms in my work: Novels, Novellas and Novelettes.
This is a personal preference, as I tend to do quite a bit of world building and write character driven content. These three forms are what work best for me and the stories I tell. Every writer is different, some use less number of forms and others use all five.
If you’re not familiar with my work, I write speculative fiction which covers a variety of genres and sub-genres. My work is also heavily influenced by comic books and action cinema. Because of this, one of my biggest influences on how I use these fiction forms is the comic book format and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in particular.
When I Choose to Use a Particular Fiction Form
I use novels for works which feature prominent characters within my literary universe, dubbed the Ivoryverse. These stories tend to have far reaching significance and consequences within my world and therefore I need more time to properly develop the characters involved.
The events depicted within my novels/novel series, resonate throughout the Ivoryverse and have an impact on every other character in every other work, at least in some significant manner. This is similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe catchphrase, “It’s all connected.”
For example, the Ivory Blaque novel series is the hub for my other works of fiction within the Ivoryverse, hence the name. As the first novel in the Ivory Blaque series, The God Killers, is a first glimpse into the Ivoryverse, all other stories which follow are in some way connected to the events which occur within that novel series. Although, it should be noted that the stories told in the novels are self contained and can be read individually and independent of other works. However, reading all of my works maximizes how in depth your understanding/following of the Ivoryverse will be.
Also, I DO NOT leave cliffhangers! I use what I term, “Epilogue Bridges.” What the Epilogue Bridges do is give the reader a glimpse into how the novel they’re reading is connected to the next novel in the series and/or other works such as novellas and novelettes. In this regard, the title character(s) have resolved (at least for the most part) the conflicts which they faced within the novel and there is a clear beginning, middle and end to the story. Epilogue Bridges are like the end credit scenes in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that sets up the anticipation for next film.
As I write stories which delve deeper into the Ivoryverse, yet don’t feature the character Ivory Blaque and are centered around another important character, I choose to write those stories as novellas.
My novellas are almost like annual, digest sized, single issue comic books with self-contained stories about a specific character or group of characters. These works tend to focus on one character, three at most and they usually have one general setting. Now just as I lay down these general “loose” rules, I am just as apt to break them.
Depending upon whether I intend to publish the novellas as a “One & Done” work, which I don’t plan to visit again or expand upon in the future, I will generally follow the one character, one setting focus rule. I use this for stories which fill in gaps between novels or novellas with the maximum word count which serve as part of a series. An example would be where a minor character, or group of characters in a novel resonates with my readers and they inquire about the further exploits of this character(s). I use the novella form to further develop the character(s) and provide stories for my readers using characters who will not recieve their own full length novel series. As all of my stories/books are written by me and I DO NOT utilize ghost writers, I have to limit the characters who receive full length novel series and gauge reader response as the whether I explore a novella series for the characters who don’t quite make the cut.
The third fiction form which I use in my writing is the novelette. This form is like a monthly comic book or weekly TV show if you will. The stories are short glimpses into the lives of certain characters who may have appeared and/or been featured in a novel or novella. Noveletes serve as a vehicle to either fill in gaps between novels and/or novellas, but can also be used as serialized installments which will be collected into a larger body of work and marketed as a volume collection of inter-related stories. Think, seasons of a TV show or collected editions of single issue comics. While these stories may not be chock full of character development, they do offer the reader a visit with a character(s) they would otherwise have to wait a year or longer to get.
This year I plan to set some things into motion which will maximize my writing output, further flesh out my literary universe and exponentially increase my body of work. This not only allows for me to get more stories written and shared with my audience, but it also allows for me to position my properties for the possibility of being developed in other media forms into the future.
Copyright © 2015 John F. Allen. All rights reserved.