Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Do You Write Novellas?

I'm writing my first ever novella. It's interesting. I've never written this length before - I've done super shorts (like 1000 words) and then full-length novels, but nothing really in between.

So, if you write novella-length, could you give me some tips? What should I know about writing a novella? Besides the length, how is it different from a regular novel? How do you plot a story that's not too long?


*Small aside for a Woohoo! 'cuz I'm down another pound!


  1. If you plot, I'd definitely suggest doing so even with a shorter work. Even if you don't, I'd at least plan out the "highlights" of the story from beginning to end. That way you have the basic arc down, and it'll be much less likely that the plot will expand to monolithic proportions.

    Honestly, that's one of the biggest problems I've seen with novellas. People write stories that should be novels and compress them to fit length restrictions. This doesn't work. (And why I suggest some amount of plotting ahead of time.)

  2. I need to get back into the swing of writing full length - the past year I've written nothing but short/novella! I'd say not to try and cram too much in. You have only so much space (words) and you don't want info overload.

    Good luck!

  3. Have them know eachother, and plan it as a scene.

  4. Go simple with your plot. That's the best bet. For example, love triangles and couple-gets-back-together stories work well in that length. I'd avoid anything that requires a lot of backstory.

    Nonny is dead on about plotting the story arc. I can't write without some plotting. I use a four point system - meetup, romance, dark moment, positive resolution. That usually gets the job done. You can pretty much build any kind of story you want around that structure.

    Happy writing!

  5. Since I don't typically write reunion stories, (even Heart isn't a real reunion story -- they just sort of knew each other in passing) I tend to go with what Cora said.

    Write a simple love story. Just two people falling in love. Action and adventure are great, but they don't have time to save the world -- just one problem.

    Have you read Angela Knight's article on writing short?


  6. For me, some stories are short and some aren't, even before I write them. I got myself into trouble writing the "heels" shorter than they needed to be to make them fit the line I was aiming for. The writing was a strain the whole time because my characters kept wanting to bust out. I'll never do that again. So I guess, know where your story fits, and choose one of your short ones to fulfill your promise. That's not to say your story won't grow and change on you during the writing, but if it wants a complication/conflict you don't have the word count for, you have to shelve that idea and go for a simpler one.
    When I wrote "The Marian Kind" I knew it was short, even though I'm a natural pantser. I didn't know if it was a short or a novella, but I knew it wasn't more than that. It has to do with the level of complication. And given how richly you write, you want a simple story line so you have the word count available for the detail/richness you write so well.

  7. I am working on my first novella now. I mapped it out nicely. However, I am well past midpoint of my original projected word count. Yet, I feel like I am nowhere near midstory. I am seriously concerned that this novella will turn out to be more of a novel.