Novellas: The Writer’s Quick-Fix

Writers often slave over their manuscripts for months, sometimes missing out on sleep, and the writing is only half of it. Then comes editing, revising, editing, and so on. But because we love our craft we keep going – book after book after book. There is nothing like the reward of a finished book and a story well told.

Another option for those who need a writing ‘fix’ is to try your hand at writing a novella. Longer than a short story but shorter than a novel, novellas allow us to tell a story in a shorter amount of time but with that same thrill of creating characters and scenes that will take us (and the reader) on an emotional journey.

Shorter doesn’t necessarily mean easier though – you have been warned! You still need to work on characterisation, goal, motivation, and conflict, and be able to show enough character growth through the shorter word count. But they are usually much quicker to write and edit, and because of the advance of e-publishing and self-publishing, novellas seem to be more widely available nowadays.

Novellas can be produced more quickly, you can explore certain ideas that may not be sustainable through an entire novel, they are good for seasonal stories (eg: Christmas), and they can also be used as prequels or sequels to longer works of fiction. For the reader, they are a bite sized read that can be devoured in one go during a lunch break or before bed, but often still providing that same sense of emotional satisfaction that comes from reading a novel. They are a good way to discover new authors too, without committing to a full length book.

I recently wrote my first novella, STARSTRUCK IN SEATTLE; the first in a series of novellas linked by a quirky character named Lulu. It took me about three weeks to write the first draft. And when I say three weeks, I don’t mean three full-on weeks, I mean snippets of writing time here and there around motherhood and other duties! So if I didn’t have much else to do, I could probably have written it in about a week (says the optimistic part of me 😉 )

How did I come up with the idea for my novella? Sleepless in Seattle was on television and because I am a sucker for stories of ‘fate’ and romance that is ‘just like magic’, an idea about an online matchmaker and Love Coach came to me. But in this case, the matchmaker has a little secret. Here’s the blurb for the story…

Actress Anna Hilford has a major crush, but not on just any guy – Karl Drake, the leading actor in the television drama on which she works as an extra. Sick of being loveless and second best in the shadow of her famous sister, Anna seeks the help of Lulu from to give her the courage and determination to follow what she believes is her destiny and transform from ‘extra’ to ‘leading lady’ in both life and love. What she doesn’t realize however, is that Lulu really is an angel and destiny has other ideas.

I found writing this novella fun and rewarding, though still a bit of hard work here and there! And in case you’re wondering, Lulu’s website does exist, though she told me she’s having a little vacation on Cloud Nine and will hopefully be back soon 😉

~ Have you written a novella? Feel free to give yours a plug in the comments.

~ Do you read novellas? What are some that you’ve enjoyed reading recently?

About Juliet Madison

Humorous & Heartwarming Fiction ~ Experience the magic of life and love...

Posted on October 21, 2012, in General, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I have a novella out next month and, yes, it’s Christmas themed. The “A Puppy for Christmas” novella has three puppy related christmas stories and mine thrusts a zookeeper and the one-night-stand he never quite got over into a tiny bunker for the entire Christmas-New Year period. Throw in a dash of ‘puppies in peril’ and how could you not want to read it 🙂

    This book came to me unxpectedly this time last year and the only writing window I had was the month of December which I had decided to take off as a treat-to-self. I handed it in on Christmas Eve so… yes… three weeks for me, too. And no revisions, either. And I’m sure that’s because (being a novella) it meant I could keep the story tight and focussed.

    Previously I wasn’t a big novella reader, but I’ve discovered a taste for them. I love being able to start and finish something in a relatively short time. Yes, the quick fix. It makes up for feeling very bad about getting to read so little now with my writing (and other) schedule.

    The last novella I read was Jenny Schwartz’ “Wanted: One Scoundrel” which is part of the Bustlepunk Chronicles set in the Swan River Colony and which I loved.

    • Sounds great, Nikki! Love the puppies in peril angle 😉

      I’ve downloaded a few novellas recently and look forward to having a read. I’m finding my novel reading to be slow-going of late so these will be the perfect alternative for the busy pre-Xmas season. I hope to write a Christmas novella too, though I find it easier when it’s close to Christmas. Afterwards it never quite feels right!

  2. I love the sound of your novella/s Juliet and also Nikki’s puppy ones!! I’m curious how long your novella is Juliet!? I’m hoping to start one – my first – when I finish the first draft of current wip!!

  3. This is really good advice, and novellas are excellent if you’re self publishing on ebook because you can set the price low, and thus be competitive. My novella is The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice, it’s a paranormal romance that started as a short story then got extended when readers said they wanted more. I realised that the story was always novella length, I just wrote it as a short story because I was trying to fit it into the submission guidelines for a magazine. My YA magical realism novel (You Can’t Shatter Me – it has a solutions for bullying theme) is pretty short too, but not unusually so for the age group. It was a lot easier and quicker to work on than my just-released full length novel, simply because the manuscript was shorter.

    • Thanks Tahlia. Sounds like in some cases, starting with a short story can be a good option to determine if it’s worth extending into a novella. And the same for novella to novel. All the best for your novellas 🙂

  4. Hi Juliet, Being a bit of a sprint writer I’ve found the novella form suits me well. It doesn’t have the constraints of a short story, or the complexity of a novel. It is still a challenge and i think it combines the best of short story (sharp and concise) and novel (depth of character).
    I have two erotic novellas (Breaking the Rules & Bloom) being released with Random House’s launch of their new Romance imprint in Feb 2013. They are a series featuring the incredibly handsome and skilled Ramon who opens the women he meets up to a new experience of themselves (in bed, of course). The novella form suits the storylines perfectly, get in quick, explore the issues and characters thoroughly, and leave with a glow of resolution. The novella is satisfying because it’s faster to write and get a quality completed product. And is a quick read so the reader gets the satisfaction of finishing something quickly too. Viva la novella!

  5. I wrote a novella but some of the themes would make me hated forever so I’ll probably never publish it. But it was a good way of getting the story out of my system without being too time consuming.

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