This week’s prompt from Ok, Let’s Read is about novellas.
What are your general opinions on novellas or short stories in a series or otherwise? Have you read any novellas? Do you always make sure to read the novellas in a series? Do you read them where they belong (i.e. between the correct two books) or are you not too bothered about that sort of thing?
They can be interesting. Sometimes they drive me mad because they’re in some obscure anthology, which I only want for that one story. Or they’re just not available anymore. Still, they can add something interesting to a series, and I do try to read them where they belong in a chronological order. Sometimes, that really doesn’t work — I read The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, by Sarah J. Maas, for example, back before the first novel was released, and I didn’t really care enough. It’s an interesting method of trying to whet people’s appetites, but you have to make it really good if you’re going to do that.
I have a lot of opinions about short stories because I like to write them. You can’t just think of them as a watered down novel; they’ve got to have all the elements of a good novel, but concentrated. You’ve got to tighten up the writing until every word is important, every paragraph advances something. I don’t mean just plot-wise; a good paragraph could help build up the world, the characters, or yeah, the plot.
For sci-fi fans, I’d definitely recommend Alastair Reynolds. I loved Troika, which is a 100 page-ish novella, and I remember being very enthusiastic about Diamond Dogs, as well. Reynolds has that knack of taking an idea that could fill a whole novel and focusing in on it, staying with it without getting distracted, and delivering something really powerful.