Home » Fantasy/SciFi, Writing Advice » 10 Writing “Rules” We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break

10 Writing “Rules” We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break

2 February 2013

From io9:

Science fiction and fantasy are genres where almost anything can happen — as long as the author can make it seem plausible, and as long as it’s part of a good story. But that doesn’t mean there are no rules. If anything, the fact that these genres are so wide open mean that there are tons of rules out there, some unspoken and some written in black and white.

And sometimes, breaking the rules is the only way to tell a really fascinating story. Here are 10 rules of SF and fantasy that more authors should consider breaking from time to time.

. . . .

1) No third-person omniscient.
Third-person omniscient used to be the default mode for a lot of novelists — a lot of the classics of literary fiction as well as science fiction are written in third person omniscient. This means, in a nutshell, that the narrator can see what’s going through any character’s head, and can flit around as the story requires. But in recent years, fiction writers have opted for first person or limited third — in which only one person at a time gets to be a viewpoint character. The thing is, though, when you have tight third person with multiple viewpoint characters, it often feels like an omniscient narrator who’s choosing to play games.

And actual third-person omniscient can be fantastic — you need look no further than Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which freely lets you know what Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and assorted other characters are thinking at any given moment. Or countless classic SF writers, for that matter. But I also want to put in a plea: anyone who’s serious about writing genre fiction should read Henry Fielding, who makes third-person omniscient into an art form. In novels like Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones, Fielding draws these brilliant tableaux where he pauses to show what everyone’s thinking, and how much at cross-purposes everyone is. It helps him be a keen observer of people, and also creates these beautifully funny set pieces.

. . . .

5) No portal fantasy
The “portal fantasy” is a mainstay in both science fiction and fantasy, even though it’s mostly used in the latter. (You could argue that Hitchhiker’s Guide is a “portal fantasy.”) In this type of book, someone from our world discovers a pathway to another world, where he or she is our relatable everyhuman explorer, and we discover this new world through his or her eyes. It’s a tried and true notion, and Lev Grossman gets a lot of mileage out of it in The Magicians — both Brakebills and Fillory, in different ways, are strange worlds that Quentin visits from the “real” world, and there’s a lot of portaling. But we’ve heard many people say that “portal fantasy” is over, and so is the neophyte who learns about the magical world over the course of a book. Now, everybody wants stories where the main character is already steeped in the magical (or science-fictional) world as the story begins.

But as we argued a while back, there’s still a lot of awesomeness lurking in the concept of an ordinary person traveling to a strange world. There are so many ways to tell that story, and so many metaphors buried in the notion of someone being thrust into a weird new world. Isn’t that what we all do when we start exploring genre fiction? I think to some extent, this is something that die-hard genre fans have seen too much of, but these sorts of stories could still have a lot of appeal to mainstream and newbie readers.

. . . .

8) Magic has to be just a minor part of a fantasy world
This is one I’ve heard a lot lately — probably because of the success of George R.R. Martin’s novels, in which magic starts out as a quiet rumor at the fringes of Westeros, something most people don’t really believe in. It’s only once you get to the later books that magic really starts to become something that most of the characters are aware of. And this is an absolutely brilliant approach to fantasy writing, and a breath of fresh air — but it’s not the way all fantasy novels should be written from here on out. There shouldn’t be a law saying that magic should be kept to the margins of a fantasy world, any more than you’d say a space opera shouldn’t have too many spaceships. Magic should be limited, sure — but it can have limits and still be central to the characters’ worlds.

Link to the rest at io9 and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

Fantasy/SciFi, Writing Advice

51 Comments to “10 Writing “Rules” We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break”

  1. On the io9 article, I like some portal science fiction. The issue of FTL bugs me. Science fiction is about possibilites. Science fiction across the years would have been tremendously boring if writers had stuck to only what was “science fact” at the time. Thank goodness they didn’t. As a reader and writer, seriously, just use it as a tool to make things happen in the story! If the story isn’t about the travel, and sometimes even if it is, just use it to make the story happen. As for FTL theories right now? Well, guess what? There are some. So there!

    A couple of additions to the list:

    Gray-goo: (related to #10, but not completely. They are talking about sympathetic characters, which I love. This is slightly different.) Really, just stop. Give me someone or something to root for and don’t betray that expectation. I’m tired of gray-goo. No hero that is a hero? No one wins? It all means nothing in the end? The entire setup of the book is to say, “This is what real life is about (read: reality dark and gritty (gag)). Life sucks.” Oops, no reading from me!

    Sparkly Idea or Technology Tunnel-vision Focus: These stories have their place, and some I have enjoyed, but don’t do it at the expense of good characters and a payoff at the end. I’ve read so many science fiction stories that were all about the sparkly idea or a technology and about expanding them out to show what might happen, and at the end the characters either all died or they and their struggles didn’t mean a thing. The last one on my Kindle I wanted to throw across the room and shout, “What was the point?!?! I want my reading time back!” Only I didn’t. I don’t want to have to buy another Kindle. 😛

    For another want that I wanted to mention: take me on a wild ride of adventure and give me back a sense of wonder. I want to have fun! I want to see new places and meet interesting characters. Give me a satisfying ending when it’s all said and done, and I’ll move on to your other books. Give me an ending where it didn’t really matter as a writer statement about what ‘life’ really is, and I’ll never read you again.

    Now, back to the writing!

    • Have to agree with your opening paragraph. How in the world does one write sci-fi without FTL travel?!?!

      Yes, I want things to not be totally inconceivable, but the point of a story is to enjoy the possibilities. If I wanted hard science, I’d read a textbook.

      • There are branches of SF without FTL. (Though, depending on the nuances, not sci-fi…) GURPS Transhuman Space is a roleplaying setting that does a lot of infotech, psychological study, biotech, gengineering, and neurotech, but I’m pretty sure it stays in the Solar System.

        I tend to prefer my SF with FTL, though, too.

      • Hie ye forth and read one of Alistair Reynolds’ “Revelation Space” stories. Multiple star systems inhabited by humans, nanotech to the point of magic, etc, but no FTL. It can be done and done well.

        John Ringo’s “There Will Be Dragons” universe also has ubertech without FTL, although they do have quantum teleportation which is technically FTL. When they want to go farther than they can teleport, which isn’t that far, they have to slog it out.

        Just the first two off the top of my head. Then there are things like Vernor Vinge’s “Transcend” universe where FTL travel is possible but only in certain places. The fact that as you leave the Transcend and descend into “slower” areas your maximum travel speed decreases is a major plot point in “A Fire Upon The Deep.” (It involves an extended stern-chase scene.)

    • On the FTL front…. there are new scientific studies in which they think warp speed (literally warping the fabric of space time and going 10x faster then the speed of light) may actually be possible… if we find a better power supply.

      Teleportation was not considered possible during the time of Star Trek, and yet they are now conducting experiments, teleporting light, and researching possibilities of making a light based communication system based on teleportation.

      Don’t discount things like FTL because we haven’t figured them out yet… eventually we might.

  2. I am immensely pleased to be a breaker of these rules. I always write in third person omniscient, it’s my default “setting” as a writer. I even have two portal fantasies on the back burner. Honestly, some of these “rules” have made me hesitant over the years to submit my work, and glad for the indie revolution. My fantasies have high magic all the way through, and there’s no point in space opera without the FTL. It’s a given, and only one of the WIPs is a trilogy.

    Grey goo — yes! As in, hate it! “The Scar” was a slog for me because I didn’t care at all about the characters. I was sitting in the airport and it was all the reading material I had that wasn’t in my luggage (thank God the Kindle now exists!) and it was just so painful to get through.

    Moral ambiguity has its place, but it’s more effective when a character who has a moral core is forced to wrestle with or betray their principles. Think Battlestar Galactica, or the “White Plague” (Frank Herbert), where women are no longer allowed contraception because the fate of the human race is at stake. In the White Plague at least polyandry is allowed. The good kind, where women can take their pick and build a harem, not the bad kind we have in real life where you marry one guy and then you’re automatically married to his brothers. And it’s obvious why we’ll never have the “good kind” in real life, but in that story it made sense.

    If you have a character who is all about personal freedom, and you’re writing for an audience who shares that outlook, then placing that character in the situations above is a better story than one where no one has principles and everything is crapsack. Roslyn forbade contraception because there were only 30,000 or so humans left, in any other circumstance she would have fought tooth and nail against it. That’s what made that scene effective, it wasn’t crapsack for the sake of being crapsack, or “dark and edgy” as they call it.

    I’m with you on the sense of adventure. My genre picks are always science fiction adventure or fantasy adventure. I haven’t seen as many of them to read these days, so I’m glad to know that when I hit “publish” there will still be an audience, too.

    • That’s the sort of thing I like too, Jamie. I’m definitely part of your target audience. 🙂

    • Jamie, I’m with you regarding _adventure_! I want sci-fi and fantasy adventure, which I’ve been reading for over 45 years. I found this article (and web site) from a link by Mike Stackpole on Facebook, so I’m sorry I don’t know the name by which you write. Let me know and I’d love to look up your adventure books to read 🙂 Oh, and I don’t like “gray goo” either. My current favorite authors include David Weber, Larry Correia, Lois McMaster-Bujold, David Drake and Eric Flint (ya, I love Baen, hehe). Past favorites include RAH, Jack Chalker, Julian May, Andre Norton, Raymond E. Feist and R.A. Salvatore. So you can see how much I love adventure stories 🙂

  3. Great article!

    I’ve been guilty, if that’s the word, of using the third person omniscient POV. On one occasion, a critiquer complained that one character couldn’t know what was going on in another character’s head; she assumed the scene was written from the first characer’s POV.

    “POV can trip you up like anything,” she told me. I decided hers was a common attitude, and that people would be bothered by that sort of thing, so I’ve mostly stopped doing it.

    Still, I knew I’d seen it done, and done well.

    It’s always something…

    • You may have to alter your approach, that’s all. While I use third omniscient, I usually have the scene from the point of view of one protagonist (I usually have 3 as a … rule), depending on whose POV will be the most interesting or build the mystery or suspense I’m going for. If I have the one scene from both POVs then I borrow a trick I saw once, where you have the POV shift signaled by the other character’s gesture or action. You’ve turned the scene’s “camera” on the person, so to speak, so it’s not so jarring.

    • Another method you can try is finding a critiquer who’s not hung up on the “rules.” People mean well, but sometimes they can really eff up your writing.

    • I think the trick in using 3rd person Omni in writing is to be consistent, and make it obvious.

      In Hitchhikers Guide we know it is 3rd person Omni. It isn’t hard to figure out since he is constantly in a different persons head.

      I’ve read a lot of stories that try 3rd person Omni but they don’t let me know who’s thoughts I’m reading, and don’t stay consistant through the book. It makes it difficult to read, and if I have to reread whole chapters to figure out whats going on then I’m putting the book down. –

  4. Women writing hard sci-fi … I thought that rule was already broken? I wonder what the criterion is? I thought it was taking something rooted firmly in science and then running with the implications. Where must you fall on the Mohs scale of science fiction hardness to be considered hard sci-fi? I’ve never read her, but I’ve heard that Catherine Asaro is a real-life scientist, and CJ Cherryh is a science teacher, and I think I’d include Bujold in hard SF as well, so that rule seems pretty broken already.

    • I wouldn’t consider Bujold’s writing to be hard SF (nor Asaro, based on the one novel of hers that I read, but it may not have been representative). Bujold’s novels are a lot more story- and character-focused, and I think of hard SF as more like Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, where there are paragraphs and paragraphs of technical description of the science and how everything works.

      Hard SF is not my cup of tea. I want to read about ideas and new worlds, and I want the sense of wonder, but I don’t want the pages of technical description (which frequently come, I find, at the expense of character development). When I do want to read that kind of thing, I prefer to get it from nonfiction.

      • Kim Stanley Robinson? Writes hard sf?

        Sure, and Moses was an atheist….

        Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars deliberately ignores really obvious technical issues, because otherwise nothing would work. All his technical stuff is just there as wallpaper, a sort of sciencey abracadabra.

        • And yet if you go to the Wikipedia article for “hard science fiction,” the Mars trilogy is listed as a representative example.

    • Yes, Catherine Asaro has a PhD. in chemical physics from Harvard and was a physics prof until 1990, when she switched to writing. She continued publishing research articles into the late 1990s. Quite a few of her works include very sophisticated math; her approach to space travel in her Skolian Empire books was based on ideas about special relativity that she published in the American Journal of Physics.

      Asaro publishes in several genres and is one of the better known writers of science fiction romance. Not everything she writes is hard SF, but some certainly counts.

  5. For my writing, I avoid breaking rule one and nine because I’m most comfortable writing in limited third-person past. I may try a first-person present at some point, but I haven’t yet.

    The others, though, I’m quite happy to break whenever a story calls for it. Especially rules 5, 6, and 8. They annoy me so much. I love stories with FTL, or fantasy stories with lots of magic, or portal stories.

  6. Gee, I thought there were no rules in fiction. *snark*

    OMG, I am so flipping sick of reading about what writers should and shouldn’t do. In another five to ten years, third omni will be back out again and third limited will be all the rage again. Never mind that I’m also sick to death of all the first person, YA paranormal romances. But give it time, it’ll all be passe and the next soup de jour will be served until that’s the new rule not to break that we should be breaking.

    Writers should just write using the technique that best suits the story being told and forget the ‘rules’, which were invented by the de facto, defunct gatekeepers. A variety of rich stories by good writers (hopefully) will out weight any list of rules.

    Rulez kill art!

  7. I couldn’t help thinking that these ‘rules’ are being broken ALL THE TIME by Indie authors. I do it myself. (Why yes, I write portal novels melding high-tech and fey magic, PLUS a *gasp* prologue in every book, one of which is 3rd-person omniscient…)

    I’m hoping that, as the gates fall, so will the establishment’s (whichever one you want to label as such) rigidity about what ‘works’ and what doesn’t. These kinds of rules come out of the traditional publishing world, and I like to think that in Indie-land, things are more wide open. 🙂

  8. Since when is “no unsympathetic characters” a rule? I can’t even find sympathetic characters anymore. They’re all horrible people who I can’t care about even slightly.

    • This has been my experience lately as well. And I’m tired of it. Dangit. I’ve had enough anti-heroes to last me a decade. But a lot of people like unsymp characters. Maybe I’m just wired differently.

      • I don’t know that a lot of people, in general, like unsymp characters. I think that a lot of editors and publishers like unsymp characters because a lot of MFA teachers like unsymp characters because it’s cool to think that all humans are bastards. Bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling.

        I could go into a long rant about why that is but it never does anything productive. Suffice it to say that I can and will make a mind-controlling rapist (let’s not mince words) or a demon straight from Hell sympathetic if I want to, and have. You can make a flawed character sympathetic, and not just by using pure psychopath-worship, which seems to be the preferred technique in many parts these days. If I make somebody unsympathetic it’s because I have no sympathy for them, not because I don’t think sympathetic characters are valid.

  9. I doubt I’ll ever write really hard SF because, for me, characters are more important than technology. And I don’t see any rules as set in stone. My current novel combines limited third and first person.

    In the IO9 comments challenging readers to come up with female writers of hard SF, I didn’t see a single mention of Susan R. Matthews and her Judiciary universe. She deserves to be more widely known.

  10. Rule #8 shows how long it’s been since I regularly read fantasy: I got severely yelled at for daring to suggest that magic didn’t have to exhaustively world-built and the central element of the story.

    Of course, from the sound of it — and from what little I’ve seen of current fantasy and sf — excessive, gratuitous world-building is still a major element of the not-so-magical fantasy too.

    I have always HATED excessive, gratuitous world-building.

  11. When I read #4, I jumped up with joy:

    “Fantasy novels have to be series instead of standalones”

    I have been complaining about this for some time. You can’t enjoy just one book. Oh no sir. You have to commit for a whole series, which may go on and on, and then fizzle out. Or the author will try to put in “cliffhangers” at the end of every book, just so you are forced to buy the next one.

    I’m getting so tired of this, I’ve stopped reading any book that is part of a series. As soon as I see the words “Part of the Blah blah series” I tune out.

    But it seems I’m in a minority as everyone else loves series. Also every beginning writer is given the advice “Write a series, so when readers love your 1st book they will come back for the second.” The idea is you can milk your readers with the same Universe/characters for years.

    I don’t know, this strikes me a bit slimy.

    I have been burnt too many times by series that fizzled out, or became “More of the same”. Sadly, like vampire romances, this is something that is here to stay.

    • As a die hard fantasy fan, I really do like series because if I really like a story or characters or world I don’t want it to end until it absolutely has to. I like to totally immerse myself in it. 🙂 A true stand alone doesn’t tend to feel like enough, though there are exceptions.

      However, I think that a series of related stand alones is a format that doesn’t get much play in the fantasy genre but works very well. The Discworld books by Terry Pratchett work this way and I love them.

      • “Related standalones” is an art form unto itself, in my opinion. The most prominent example I can think of is Lois McMaster Bujold’s VorKosigan Series. She’s on record as sayin she’s aware that any given reader might first encounter any random book in the series, and she always keeps it in mind.

    • I once lent a friend a copy of Hyperion , feeling sure he’d love it–it’s a modern SF classic, after all!

      He hated it. Because he read it all the way through to the end only to find that the story was unresolved–there was a second book you had to get (sorry, can’t remember the titele, maybe it was The Fall of Hyperion?) if you wanted to finish the story.

      In retrospect, he was right. Those two books should have been published in one volume.

      • Agree. We recently read Hyperion in my SFF reading circle and I was so mad at the ending. I write and read quite a lot of series, and I don’t mind a story that continues from one book to another, but that ending deserves the worst book resolution of all time award. The Fall of Hyperion is the second book in the series. They should have been written together.

        • And that is the problem with most series. The author takes one book, one story, and forcibily cuts into 2 or more, just to squeeze money out of readers.

          The edition of Hyperion I read had both the books together, maybe due to customer complaints.

          • I really love series. But there’s got to be a decent resolution of sorts at the end of a book (I’m thinking just now of the satisfying endings in Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel trilogy, which I recently finished).

            The whole premise of Hyperion in the first book is this band of travelers going to these ruins – each with their own story. And that ending just totally stuck its tongue out at the premise. Whether it was the publisher or the author, I don’t know. I’ve bought the second one but haven’t read it yet because I’m still irritated.

          • As Hyperion, so Connie Willis’s late Hugo winner, Blackout/All Clear. I couldn’t agree with the win though I usually like her writing very much. This was a bloated pair of books that should have had 3-4 main characters cut and thereby shrink the book back to a stand-alone. As it was, I often found myself wondering which MC I was reading about now, and what had s/he done 60 pages back, and why was I supposed to care? Her other stuff, IMO, is quite wonderful. If you’ve never read Willis, start with Doomsday Book. Not bloated or anything, but terrific.

          • I doubt it was the writer’s choice to separate them to make more money. Most publishers don’t print books of 1,600 pages.

            The Hyperion Cantos is in my opinion one of the best “series” in sci-fi, and while I wish they could’ve been sold in one humongous skull-crushing tome, I honestly care more about the story inside than the paper shell it comes in.

        • No – worst book ending goes to one of Roger Zelazny’s Amber books (Can’t remember the name) it ended in MID-SENTENCE!

          • Alice, I can’t think of which Amber book you’re talking about. A quick check of both series reveals that the only thing approaching an unfinished sentence is Trumps of Doom where it ends with an ellipses representing the 1st person POV character’s thought trailing off. Not really anything unfinished. Just curious because I generally consider those book some of the all time best fantasy out there. 🙂

            • Me, too! That series (both of them – but I never forgave Zelazny in the second series for letting Merlin abandon Frakir) is my all-time favorite. Thanks for checking that, I was just going upstairs to find out which book Alice was talking about.

            • Yes, Sarah I loved those books. But if I remember it’s a massive cliffhanger and in those days you had to wait a whole year for the next one! Despite loving the series that made me feel cheated.

    • Thinking of Brandon Sanderson’s quote: “I’m a fantasy writer. We have trouble with the concept of brevity.”

  12. I am with everyone else who has said, “Hang the rules!” Excluding #5, Portal Fantasy, is a ludicrous suggestion. Certainly, Diana Gabaldon wrote a series that booksellers could not classify as fantasy, sci-fi, romance or anything else with her Outlander and Lord John Grey series.

    If someone were remotely as successful as Gabaldon, or the other authors cited, I would respect their list of rules.As it is, it’s just someone else’s opinion, and in the scope of what anyone might find as an inspiration to write, it will have little to no effect. Write for yourself first.

    • One of my favorite SF books, Frederick Pohl’s Heechee series, is nothing more than “Portal Fantasy”: it is based on the discovery that a vanished civilization left structures on an asteroid with FTL space craft parked on it in orbit around Venus. The first novel — & its sequels, to a lesser degree — are about human volunteers flying them to their ultimate destinations, not knowing exactly how they work. Nor if the flights will be even allow them to return safely to the Gateway asteroid.

      Then again I haven’t been reading SF for a long time, so maybe the “Portal Fantasy” theme has been worked to death since then.

      • Yeah, the Heechee serie! Brilliant stuff! 😀

        • Side note: one of the books I am currently writing was entirely inspired by the wonderful scene in Gateway where Rob gets hold of Sigfrid’s override code*.

          The override code which one of the characters uses in the event which initiates the story is the same string of words which comprises Sigfrid’s code, the story takes place on Gateway Habitat, and the two main characters’ names are Robinette and Sam.

          Now while admitting that I am absolutely shameless (I like to think of it as tribute) I hasten to add that other than the above the story has nothing to do with Pohl’s universe, Gateway Habitat is similar to Gateway Station only in that they are both large space habitats and the characters are entirely different other than their names. Do your worst, counsel for the plaintiff. 🙂

          *In case you are like me and now must look it up, I’ll save you the trouble. The command is:

          “Pay attention, Sigfrid, this is an override command: ‘Category Alpha Alpha Margaret Truman Daniel Mercury Venus Mars Earth six six oh six.’ You are commanded to assume passive display mode.”

  13. I’m glad to have read this post and article. As a fan of SFF and trying–operative word, trying–to concoct an urban fantasy, I’m finding it a heck of a go to find the well-written examples of said genre so I’ll know what to do. That said, I’ve heard recently in my crit group from a guy NOT a reader of SFF to not include prologues; I told the SFF guy to do it if, in accordance to the rule listing above that it’s needed for the sake of conflict and to forewarn readers. Strange how those hard / fast rules become so. If it’s expected in the genre, why toss it out?

    Could be everyone’s looking for the familiar, so that when someone *does* do it white-hot star wrong, ergo, never do it again. Triflin’ garbage. As long as if you have an engaging, compelling story with memorable, wish-they-were-your-friends-in-life characters, why get hyper over things that can be tinkered with? You have to do it wrong first to do it right, right? And if you ARE doing it right and it works for the read, why then say it’s wrong?

    ‘Cause the haters are gonna hate, and they didn’t think of it first, LOL!

    I’m a big fan of rule-breaking. I’m planning my UF in first person present. That’s how the story flows and works.

    Maybe my post contributed something here, maybe it didn’t. I’m here to learn. I also hope to model my UF after a fantasy writer who inspired me to do this: Piers Anthony and his Xanth reads. They’re stand-alones, but have one connecting thread: the land itself and its magic rules. The plot he played hard and fast with, and it made it such a fun read, save for a few lately getting into the sex more and more. (Not that I’m opposed to sex in SFF, but when it wasn’t known for it before, now he’s gone near perversion with it? Gag!)

    Anyway, my 5¢ worth. Great post!

  14. I’m with those who say “rules? what rules?” Just tell a good story. That said, I think guidelines can be helpful and one of the biggest I’d give anyone writing scifi is keep the fantasy stuff to a minimum. And let’s differentiate fantasy from whimsy. You can have incredibly whimsical scifi (Hitchhikers Guide, for example), but really, when I read or watch scifi, I don’t want wizards or witches or supernatural or any of that other stuff – unless it ultimately is explained in a “scientific” context (as they do in Doctor Who). If I had one teeny tiny wish that the science fiction fairies could grant with their magical fairy dust, it would be this: cleave the genres cleanly so that scifi stands on its own – and let those who love horror, gorefests, and fantasy figure out what they want. I know that the scifi fairies don’t really like me, so the wish will never be granted. But a man can dream. A man can dream.

  15. Portal fiction is dead,and you shouldn’t write about a mundane fumbling their way into magic!?

    Guess that explains why Harry Potter was such an obscure failure.

  16. Here’s a rule I think should be broken:

    Don’t Write Novellas

    A novella is a work of fiction longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel. The prejudice against novellas probably arose from the business side of publishing. Publishers make more money from fat books.

    The novella is a literary form which seems almost ignored, which is a pity, for some of our greatest books are novellas. _The Metamorphosis_ . _Animal Farm_. _A Christmas Carol_.

    My hope is that with the emergence of ebooks and electronic self publishing, the literary form of the novella will have a Renaissance.

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