Novels can have pauses, faults: a long story wins by points. A novelette, as Julio Cortazar wrote, needs to win by knock-out. Do you agree?
I prefer a different sporting analogy. Writing short fiction is like entering a sprint race. Novels require you to run a marathon. Whichever you write, getting to the finish tape still takes a hell of a lot of sweat.
Is there a literary bias against the short form of fiction?
I think short fiction is often regarded as the poor relation of the novel. It's considered somehow disposable. But I've read plenty of short fiction that's stayed with me long after certain novels have faded to nothing.
Plot, setting, ideas. What are in your opinion the perfect ingredients of a novelette/novella?
I'm a sucker for high concept. The classic Hollywood elevator pitch. A 'what if?' you can sum up in fifteen words or less. A breathtaking story that's told in swift, accurate strokes with all the relentless inevitability of a ticking bomb.
Would you suggest 3 must-read novelettes/novellas?
Here are today's favourites. Ask me again tomorrow and I'm sure the list would be different: Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad Dolan's Cadillac - Stephen King Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions - Edwin Abbott
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