[Ads-l] Shifting connotations: Is novelette derogatory?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 17 16:30:30 UTC 2015


The Oxford Dictionaries website has an entry for the noun "novelette"
with the description "chiefly derogatory":

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/novelette

[Begin excerpt]
Novelette noun
chiefly derogatory
A short novel, typically one that is light and romantic or sentimental
in character.
[End excerpt]

In the domain of science fiction I do not think that "novelette" is
derogatory. The term is used to indicate the length of a story, and it
does not have a negative connotation.

Below is an excerpt from a webpage of the Science Fiction and fantasy
Writers of America (SFWA) website. The excerpt is about story lengths
for the Nebula Awards which are the primary honors bestowed by the
SFWA.

http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/rules/

[Begin excerpt]
Nebula Awards will be made in the following categories:
     1) Short Story: less than 7,500 words;
     2) Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words;
     3) Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
     4) Novel: 40,000 words or more.
[End excerpt]

I have read/heard the term "novelette" most frequently in discussions
of genre fiction, and it has been used without derogative intent (I
think).

Garson

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