I only read novels. When discussing short stories and novellas, comments similar to that often come up as reasons why people don’t – or won’t – read short stories or novellas. There are a few such comments which I want to address, to give my – admittedly biased – point of view on.
I Only Read Novels;
People who make this claim probably have read – and enjoyed – novellas and not even realised it. Many of literatures most famous stories are in fact novellas. Take a look through the following list and see if you recognise any.
Animal Farm By George Orwell
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Shadow over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Short Stories Aren’t Value For Money
Another fairly common claim is that why would you want to buy a short story when for the same price you can buy a novel? Oddly, the same people are often willing to fork out the same amount for a novel of 75,000 words as they are for one of 200,000+, even though the shorter novel is closer in length to a short story than it is for the long novel. It isn’t like people would only ever watch movies and not TV shows, or buy a 3 course banquet when they only want a snack. If it is a good story then it is value for money, regardless of the price. At at only $0.99 normally, it is not normally worth quibbling over.
Short Stories Reflect Today’s Shortening Attention Spans
This is an odd one – people who think short stories are only popular because of shortening attention spans. Short stories used to be far more popular in the past, back at the height of the pulp magazines, which were collections of short stories, the most popular of which could sell up to a million copies an issue. Short stories are now less popular, and the trend seems to be – pushed by publishers – for longer and longer novels, not shorter ones. Short stories are good for those, not with short attention spans, but with shorter periods of time to enjoy themselves due to hectic life schedules. If you only get a half hour here and there, then a short story is ideally suited for a quick, short and enjoyable read.