Janet here. I’m thrilled to have my very first novella Last Minute Bride, Brides of the West, Love Inspired Historical, April 2012, on bookstore and discount store shelves now! The anthology also includes wonderful stories by authors Victoria Blyin and Pamela Nissen. Three for the price of one, a romance bargain.
A novella is a mini-novel so has all the elements of a novel, only told with fewer words. The nuts and bolts for writing a novella are pretty much the basics of writing any novel. Sorry, no huge disclosure there. The title of this post came from an image I had of tightening nuts and bolts with my handheld screw driver, tightening and tightening until they squeaked. Or perhaps I was the one doing the squeaking at having to limit my words. I’m guessing Seeker Julie would be screaming, as if tortured.
Vicki, Pam and I were given a 25,000 word count and the theme of Spring Brides. Later the book was titled Brides of the West and given the gorgeous mountainous cover you see here. I was concerned my Peaceful, Indiana, setting would disappoint readers. Seeker Mary’s wise words: “Indiana is west of someplace.” She’s right, of course. As always. The other stories are set in Wyoming and Colorado. Read mine first, then travel west. LOL
Here’s a peek at the three novellas:
Josie’s Wedding Dress by Victoria Bylin
Desperate for someone to help her save her ranch, Josie Bright makes a deal with Ty Donner. Now the man who’d left her waiting at the altar is making her hope for things she had long stopped wishing for.
As a girl, Lydia Townsend hoped to marry Jebediah Gentry—until his rejection spoiled her dreams. When family duty brings her home, it’s Jeb’s chance to show Lydia that now is the time for her wedding dreams to come true.
Last Minute Bride by Janet Dean
Elise Langley was stung to the quick when her would-be suitor suddenly left town. But when David Wellman returns and they are thrown together organizing their friends’ wedding, can she open her heart again?
All three novellas support the cover tagline: Love is always worth a second chance.
When writing a novella, secondary characters from a prior novel are good candidates for your hero and heroine. You know who they are, where they live and what they look like. All that information helps get the story down quicker. The inspiration for Last Minute Bride came from Wanted: A Family, LIH, March 2011. Callie Mitchell cared for unwed mothers and by the story’s end, for Jake Smith, the drifter who mended her old Victorian and her heart. The story ends with Jake’s proposal to Callie. The novella gave me the perfect opportunity to get those two married, and more importantly, to tell unwed mother Elise Langley’s story. Several readers had asked about Elise, especially since sparks flew between her and Doctor David Wellman. By the opening of Last Minute Bride, David has broken Elise’s heart and she wants nothing to do with him, yet they must work together to prepare for Callie and Jake’s reception. Finding true love is never easy. Nor should it be, at least in fiction.
I expected the shorter word count would enable me to write faster, yet writing a novella wasn’t a cakewalk, at least, not for me. I love to write secondary characters who bring small town settings alive. I created three new characters to make this story work, yet couldn’t omit story people readers would want to revisit from Wanted: A Family so I sprinkled them in. The challenge was keeping the hero and heroine front and center. I had to delete some scenes before I got the balance right. Probably a little squeaking going on then. LOL Be choosy what nuts and bolts you tighten.
What did I leave out to get the story down in 25,000 words? Nothing. This is a mini-novel, so everything must be there. Just more compact, squeezed together, tightened. Descriptions and secondary characters must be pared down to get the story written in what’s around one-third of a novel’s word count. With the shorter format, I made sure to use descriptions of setting and people to reveal emotion and character. Seeing place and people through the Point of View character’s eyes is always important, but imperative in a novella. Now that I think about it, I did leave something out. Time. Tightening the timeframe kept the story moving at a nice clip and made it easier to tell with fewer words. Last Minute Bride takes place in two weeks. I should mention that editors expect novellas to take less time to write.
I’m giving away a copy of Brides of the West. Leave a comment for a chance to win. In case you haven’t had your caffeine yet this morning, I’ve laid out possible topics.
For readers: Are you a fan of novellas or do you prefer a novel’s longer format?
For writers: Do you see the novella as a perfect vehicle for your writing style? Or would the shorter word count create issues for you?
For everyone: Do you expect a cover to reveal what’s inside the book? Or do you see the cover as a hook?