I've just about finished up the first draft of a piece of work I've put a good deal of love into. It's genre fiction (paranormal/supernatural horror/urban fantasy/whatever they're calling it this week), and I want to go back and put in a couple scenes as well as apply a LOT of polish, but it's only about 20,000 words - too long and complex (plotwise) for a short story, but far too short for a novel.

I have sequel ideas - should I dub this "part one" and write two more parts? Or would it be better to leave it as a novella?

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    If I pick up a 1000 pages novel nowadays I am almost certainly sure that 500 pages are crap and a waste of time to read. I tend to not picking them up anymore. A novella sounds fine. Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 8:41
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    wow, I'm the opposite. I love novels heavy enough to crack walnuts with. I want a long love affair, not a one-night stand. Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 14:04

2 Answers 2


If your story is complete, then leave it as a novella. Focus on telling your story and getting it cleaned up and finalized. Don't worry about the length. If you need to add some scenes to help make the story more complete, then do so, but don't add them just to try to force the story into becoming something larger than it needs to be.

I have seen a very common trend of urban fantasies that are being published as e-books that are novellas. Inevitably, a good number of them end up becoming parts of a larger story, or the author creates multiple stories featuring the same character(s). Once they have finsihed each of the separate stories, they then combine them together in a collection. I know a couple of authors who have been pretty successful doing this, so it is something that you could consider. By selling each of the novellas separately you have the opportunity to gain some exposure, and that in turn could lead to people spending a little more for the full collection. The trick, however, is getting the other stories completed once you finish the first one!

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    +1 The resurgence of novellas is one of the best things about the e-book boom, to me. A quality story with no filler? Yes, please!
    – Kate S.
    Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 10:20

Since this is your first draft, it is no where near perfect. Put it away for at least a month. When you come back to it, you will see everything in a new light.

My first book was only 30,000 words. When I came back to it, my reaction was "Who the $%& wrote this?" :) The scenes seemed to jump, characters were in a hurry to say their lines and leave, people were making decisions after only 10 seconds of looking at a situation. My comments every where were "Too fast. Slow it down. Add beats. Etc etc". I am having to rewrite many scenes to make them deep and engaging.

If the book is still too short, you still have hope. One of the books I wrote was also 20,000 words, and I didn't like it, so I never went round to editing it. But now I am using the scenes and characters from that book in another one, meaning my hard work won't be wasted.

So to answer your original question- put your books away for at least a month. Then decide what you want to do with it.

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