Saturday, July 14, 2018

How to Write a Novella


A novella can be a great stepping stone in a writer’s journey towards completing a novel, or it can be a standalone project. Whatever the reason or motivation for writing a novella that a writer may have, what it can do is teach them about how to build characters, introduce themes, and convey a story in more depth than short stories do.

Writing a novella might give you an idea for a novel, or might end up turning into one itself.
Like much in writing, the word count for novellas is not set in stone, though 30-60 thousand words is about right. This gives you enough leeway to expand your story if you see fit, or keep it quite concise.
Either way, even at the lower end of the word count, writing a novella is no small undertaking. It’s long enough that the reader should become immersed in the world created but short enough that a person might be able to devour the whole story in one sitting.
While there are lots of elements of a novella that are also important in a full-length novel, there are also some crucial differences, and it is essential to understand what these are and pay attention to them as you write your story.
So if you are hoping to write a novella, remember these valuable tips:
Pay attention to structure
The beauty of a novella is that you need to pack so much into a limited number of words that there is no room for an excess of anything. The plot needs to be watertight; the story must unfold without deviation. A good structure will provide the base from which to tell the story and needs to be smart and simple. There're likely to be fewer characters, fewer scene changes, and a clear unifying idea that pulls the story together.
Use characters wisely
There should be fewer characters in a novella, and those that do appear should be used economically. Characters need to be impactful, and their presence must be felt right away. All characters should play an essential role in the story, should drive the action and plot forwards and be cleverly executed, so your readers feel as though they know them without having to know everything about them. You don’t have the luxury of pages of backstory, or of letting your readers get to know your characters gradually - they must feel a  connection with them almost immediately.
Have just a single theme and conflict
While in a full-length novel there are opportunities to bring in several conflicts, dilemmas, themes and subplots, because of the limited word count of a novella, there should only be one. Single time frame, single place, single idea - this way you can fully execute your story with as much power, and attention to detail as if writing a full novel rather than giving a watered down version where the story feels weak as it isn’t fully explained.
Remember simplicity is key
When it comes to writing a novella, it’s important not to over complicate things. Don’t make life difficult for yourself by trying to pack too much in. Instead, keep things simple while still creating a story that is complex enough to come to a satisfying conclusion without any subplots or digressions from the main idea.
By following the above tips you can write a novella that is perfectly paced, keeps the reader hooked, allows them to immerse themselves in your story fully and yet remains simple, sweet and satisfying. So if you are thinking of writing a novella follow the above tips to help get you started.

I'm still not sure if my diary can be classified as a novel, novella or novelette, as I stated in this post and as this chart classifies each of these terms:

But as it says above, no word count is set in stone. Though 17K-osmething is the current word count. I've also been told the current length of my WIP seems long enough for a YA/MG book (again, I'm not certain how to classify it in those terms). I have also been told someone will want to illustrate my book, should it ever get an offer for publishing. I'm not that great at attempting to draw illustrations, but I did include a chart that changes several times:

This should add to the page count in book form somewhat. And illustrate some of the story as well.

I'm not sure if I followed some of the rules above, but they are only suggestions. I'm speaking specifically about the single theme and content. The theme appears to be about the protagonist getting braces, but several incidents take place over the story, including a school play, kids getting assigned into groups for a class project, and taunts from the mean girls at school. This kind of sounds like the opposite of what is being suggested, but then again, it is only a suggestion. 

Have any of you who have written novellas ever been told things like these? and did what you have written seem to follow what was suggested?


  1. I think novellas (and short stories) are harder in some ways to write. No room for wasted characters, ideas, words.
    Good luck.

  2. I consider anything over 40K a novel.
    Have a lovely Sunday.

  3. Hope you're having a productive day.