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Exploring Length in Fiction

As I learn more about fiction, I’ve found the different types of fiction very interesting. Normally, the “types” of fiction refers to genres: whether a piece is literary fiction as opposed to romantic or sci-fi. However, I’m talking more about length in fiction. There are about four general lengths in fiction: flash fiction, short stories, novellas, and novels.

 

 

Flash Fiction

Flash fiction refers to short works that are, usually, under 1,000 words. This includes Dribbles, Drabbles, and six-word stories. Flash fiction is like a burst of juice on your tongue; something short and sweet. These short, short stories truly pack a punch, somewhere between a sour candy and an actual hit, when it comes to their emotional toll. Stories like The Visitor and A Story of Stolen Salamis, by Lydia Davis are steeped in memory and care. They make you smile in a wistful way as you think of your grandpa or something you hold dear. Jamaica Kincaid also packs a heavy hit with Girl, the story of a young Caribbean girl and the lessons her mother gives her. You think of social expectations, whether you’re on the good side or the bad side of what your mother wanted.

 

Image via Genius

Short Stories

Short stories are, almost always, significantly longer than Flash Fiction, spanning from 1,500 to 10,000 words. These stories are like short films in their ability to tell a full, detailed story in a short amount of time. There fun to read on the go; great for snacking. Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff is just that. This compact little story, gives context to the death of a book editor and does a great job of giving you just enough. There’s just enough detail, just enough dialog, just enough of insight on the main character’s life. It’s a little bag of perfect.

 

 

Image via Goodreads

Novellas

Novellas are usually around 15,000 to 60,000, even though the word count is not set in stone. Think of them as a dinner plate; it’s enough to fill you up without making you full. Novellas are satisfying in that way. They’re full of detail, all without dedicated pages to setting or description. John Steinbeck seems to be a good chef when it comes to novellas. He wrote Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony, The Pearl, and Lifeboat, with the first being his most famous Novella. Of Mice and Men is the perfect example of what a novella could be. It presents a full, satisfying story that is, like a short story, easy to read wherever you are.

Image via Amazon

Novels

Novels are the most common form of fiction around, the full course meal of fiction. These stories can stretch from around 50/60,000 words onward, even though readers usually prefer novels that don’t pass 250,000 words. Everyone has their own favorite novel, but every good novel has one thing in common: it’s extremely engaging. Because a novel has to keep a reader’s attention over a longer coarse of time, it’s more important they are engaging from the beginning. Another thing about novels is that they give you the room to build an entire world. It is perfectly acceptable to spend a significant time on setting and world-building. Take the Harry Potter series for example; those books are long and spend a lot of time setting up the scenery. That works in a novel because it gives depth to the world and keeps the story interesting.

 

 

Now that you’ve gotten to see the full spread of what fiction has to offer, go out and read. Have a novella on the train; read a short story with breakfast; enjoy the variety of fiction because it is truly endless.

 

Feature Image via HGTV.

 


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Girl surrounded by books and reading

17+ Short Books You Can Read In One Day

...even if you’re reading this at any other time of the year when you just managed to scrape out a whole day (or two) to read, then it wouldn’t hurt to keep this list in mind…

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Feast Your Eyes on These Edible Books!

Feast your eyes on these books!

Literally. With eight books on display, students at Western Iowa Tech Community College had a chance to guess the title of the book and vote on their favorite before taking a bite out of literature. The school’s first-ever Edible Book Competition was organized thanks to eight students and faculty members so that finals weeks could run a lot smoother.

“It gives us an opportunity to share our love of reading and how books are important to us, and get to know each other a little better and share food, of course,” Sue Owens, the librarian who planned this event, told SiouxLand Proud.

Of course they’re not real books. Basically, students had an opportunity to make a tasty desert and make others guess what book that desert represented.

 

Library manager Sharon Dykshoorn
Image Via Sioux City Journal

Sioux City Journal spoke to library manager Sharon Dykshoorn, who said, “Anyone who wanted to vote for their favorite among the edible books could do so” and that , “the winner of the popular vote will be determined at noon and a small prize will be given to the top vote-getter.”

Dykshoorn had her own entry, which by all accounts was the hardest to guess.

 

A bear surrounded by ring-shaped cookies

Image Via Sioux City Journal

See if you can guess what books these six deserts represent:

  1. A fish bowl inside of which are Swedish fish candies.

2. A plate filled with grapes

3. A Mars candy bar called “The Three Musketeers”

4. A teddy bear surrounded by wedding-ring-shaped cookies

5. A chocolate cake

6. A book-shaped cake covered in fondant and buttercream

Dykshoorn gave a hint for her entry: “[I]t represents an ancient book…[p]lus it was turned into a movie starring Robin Williams.” After guessing the titles for each book, students had the chance to dig in on the displays.

Before I sign off, the answers are below.

 

 


 

 

  1. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

2. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

3. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

4. The Ring Bear by N.L. Sharp

5. The Hobbit by J R. R. Tolkien

Fun fact, this entry won Chuck Polk the popular vote as best entry.

6. Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

 

Featured Image Via JMEG

Of mice and men

10 ‘Of Mice and Men’ Quotes to Celebrate Your Epic Friendships

George and Lennie have held the title of ‘greatest bromance’ in literature since 1937. In honor of the classic novella’s publication anniversary, the following Of Mice and Men quotes should help you celebrate your greatest friendships. A couple might be hurtful, but all are said with love.

 

 

of mice and men by john steinbeck

Image via Amazon

 

 

1. “Jesus Christ, Lennie! You can’t remember nothing that happens, but you remember ever’ word I say.” – George

 


 

2. “I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you.” – Lennie

 


 

3. Lennie: “You said I was your cousin!”
George: “That was a lie. If I was a relative of yours, I’d shoot myself.”

 


 

4. “We know what we got, and we don’t care whether you know it or not.” – Candy

 


 

5. Lennie: “I was only foolin’, George. I don’t want no ketchup. I wouldn’t eat no ketchup if it was right here beside me.”

George: “If it was here, you could have some.”

Lennie: “But I wouldn’t eat none, George. I’d leave it all for you. You could cover your beans with it and I wouldn’t touch none of it.”

 


 

6. “‘Course Lennie’s a God damn nuisance most of the time, but you get used to goin’ around with a guy an’ you can’t get rid of him.” – George

 


 

7. “It ain’t no lie. We’re gonna do it. Gonna get a little place an’ live on the fatta the lan’.” – Lennie

 


 

8. “I turns to Lennie and says, ‘Jump in.’ An’ he jumps. Couldn’t swim a stroke. He damn near drowned before we could get him. An’ he was so damn nice to me for pullin’ him out. Clean forgot I told him to jump in. Well, I ain’t done nothing like that no more.” – George

 


 

9. “No, Lennie, I ain’t mad. I never been mad, and I ain’ now. That’s a thing I want ya to know.” – George

 


 

10. “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place. . . . With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.” – George

 

 

 

 

Thank you for the ultimate literary bromance, John Steinbeck.

 

 

 

Featured Image via Literary Hub