Monday, April 9, 2012

The Nuts and Bolts of Writing a Novella



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.



Her Ideal Husband by Pamela Nissen



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?


In honor of my novella’s release, I brought a mini-breakfast. Silver dollar sized pancakes, mini-sausage links, mini-breakfast croissants stuffed with scrambled eggs and bacon and many donut holes. Helen has the coffee on. I’ve made a pot of green tea that’s quite healthy and delicious. The mugs are huge. No mini-caffeine fix here in Seekerville.


115 comments:

Nancy Kimball said...

Hi Janet!
I've honestly read very few novellas but did enjoy them. I prefer a longer story though I can't really put my finger on why. I know I tend to write that way too. The last MS was supposed to be 80K and it's a 100 LOL. Shorter word count would create serious issues for me.
I see the cover as a hook. I don't like it when it's "busy" trying to show me everything in there. The same with the blurb on the back. Sometimes I feel like it's basically told me most of the story and its almost disappointing.
I'm snatching up an all you can eat helping of the mini-sausage links and double fist-fulls of donut-holes. =)

Ausjenny said...

Hi Janet,
As a Reader I like Novella's I love the christmas ones and have read many others. They are good for a quick read. I have read a few LI novellas and they are good as they have connected stories. I like the Novella's that are connected in some way although others are good too.
I love the look of your new book.
I like covers that have something to do with the story but not giving anything away. Covers can often be a hook to get me to read that book next.

Helen Gray said...

Hi Janet:

Yep, the coffee pot is on.

I like novellas. I really do. I like being able to sit down and read a story straight through without having to put it aside.

I've even considered writing one.

Would love to win this collection.

Helen

Carol Moncado said...

I prefer big long books usually, but good novellas are all right too. For quick reads, they're great.

I've not ever tried writing one, but there was something on Rachelle Gardner's blog recently about releasing 'in-betweenies' - novellas that take place between books, etc. Continuations, maybe the wedding or post honeymoon depending on where your book leaves off.

Thank you for your kind words earlier tonight, Janet :). Doing okay - thinking it's gonna be great for the diet plan [when half your mouth doesn't work right... ;)] and the plotline [2K basically wrote themselves tonight - hadn't planned to start a new WIP until 2 others were polished - poor heroine showed up at Easter Sunday with a pretty pink eye patch ;)]. Not a clue where it's going, but should be fun trying to get there :D.

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

I like novellas as much as novels as long as they really are little novels and not just long short stories. I like the story to be rich enough to have gone full length if the author was so inclined. I also think that a novella should ‘cost’ the author a full novel in idea production. I like at least ten chapters and a complete story. Usually what is missing is secondary character threads.

I’m reviewing “The Last Minute Bride” right now for my website and I think it features some of your best writing. It starts out like a novella then ‘thickens’ with added conflict and motivations. The motivation seems thin at first but then becomes much more complex as the story progresses. Increasing the depth of motivation in this way deepens the reader’s interest and seems to deliver more substance than expected in a novella.

I think “The Last Minute Bride” produces an ‘after-image’ of having read a full length novel. At least, this is how I felt after reading the story because memories of the prior story, “Wanted: A Family”, of which it is a part, got mixed in with the novella elements thus giving me a much more ‘expansive’ experience than a stand alone novella would likely produce.

I highly recommended tying novellas to a contemporaneous companion novel. There is a synergy here that I think is like saying a 25,000 word novella when published alongside a 70,000 word novel produces the reading impact of another 70,000 word novel.

While I like to read novellas and while novellas provide a less cumbersome way to study a writer’s techniques, I would not want to spend a great ‘novel’ idea along with a ‘novel’ amount of time writing it -- only to be rewarded with a lesser monetary amount.

Oh, no…now I don’t need to write the review! All my good points are here. : ( Ah, maybe not. I’ll think of some more good points in the morning. I hope.)

Loved the novella, “The Last Minute Bride” – highest recommendation. It alone is worth the price of the book.

Vince

P.S. I don’t need to be in the drawing.

Mary Cline said...

Sometimes I finish a novel and find myself wondering, "But what about Naomi?" or whoever. A novella could take care of that question very well.

I like novellas, maybe not quite as well as full length novels. I also like collections like 'Brides of the West'.

As for covers, I don't know why and it is probably just personal taste but I like the ones with people on them the best.

Melissa Jagears said...

I prefer a novel, I don't feel like I get to know the characters in the few short stories/novellas I've read. I just don't connect well enough in the space of time to read them to make me feel satisfied(no fault of the author with that word count)--but your notion of making it characters from a book I've already read...now that might get me, if I read the other book of course and already knew/loved the characters. :)

I don't think I could set out to write one. The more I write, the longer the WIPs get - and I'm tightening more and more. All my ideas are long ones. But, if someone said, "write me a novella, and we'll pay for it" Um, heck yeah, I'd figure a way!


I'm dissappointed when a cover is something that isn't in the book at all. If you have a couple sitting at a roller skating rink on a bench and that sitting on a bench scene never happened (They may have been at the roller rink together but never on a bench), I feel lied to or wonder why the artist bothered to put something together at all if they weren't going to read the book.

Only super awesome covers (or ones with castles on them :) actually grab me, I'd only say 10-20% work for me in that capacity - I put more stock in the blurb - and I'll pass on a super awesome cover if the blurb is boring or talks a lot about "Jethro learns that life is tough and he must come to grips with his past in order to love in his future." Blurbs like that make me think - there is no story and I will be bored beyond tears.

Melissa Jagears said...

This is a Question for MARY CONNEALY, though some of the rest of you may know, I know that Julie had a book given out free through kindle awhile back.

Virginia and I were wondering, if we already own the hard copy, should we download the free kindle book in order to boost the stats of the authors we love? Like currently, Mary's book is out for free for two days, but neither of us needs it since we own it. So, would it help Mary stats wise to download it to our kindles?

Melissa Jagears said...

I prefer a full length story because I don't get a good enough emotional connection with the characters in the few I have read. But the idea of a novella with characters from a novel could possibly entice me, of course, only if I read the book and loved those characters. :)

I don't think I would ever set out to write one, the more I write, the longer my books are, all my ideas are full length, but if someone said, "Write us one and we'll pay for it." Yeah, I'd figure out a way. :)

I dislike it when I find out cover art is wrong. Like, if the cover shows a couple sitting on a bench at an ice rink and they never do that in the book (maybe they go to the ice rink, but they don't sit down next to one another on a bench anywhere in the book) I feel jipped if I anticipated it or I question the artist's integrity for not being anywhere true to the story or bothering to read it.

I would say that only 10-20% of covers get me and they have to be AWESOME (or have a castle on it :). But I'll still set it down if the Blurb doesn't sound interesting (unless word of mouth promotes it) I put more stock in the blurb - and now that I write and can't stand bad writing, I read the first few pages too if the blurb got me.

But if you have a beautiful cover that screams at me to pick it up and the blurb reads like this: "Jethro finds out life is tough after he leaves college and returns home. He has to forgive his past hurts in order to find his future in the town of Boringville, Indiana." That pretty cover cannot overcome that blurb, and it goes back on the shelf unless someone I trust says I should give it a try.

But I'll pick up any book in my preferred genre despite the cover (unless it screams that it is self-published) and read the blurb.

Melissa Jagears said...

This is a Question for MARY CONNEALY, though some of the rest of you may know, I know that Julie had a book given out free through kindle awhile back.

Virginia and I were wondering, if we already own the hard copy, should we download the free kindle book in order to boost the stats of the authors we love? Like currently, Mary's book is out for free for two days, but neither of us needs it since we own it. So, would it help Mary stats wise to download it to our kindles?

Ausjenny said...

Melissa, I agree with the cover, I hate it when its different to the book. Like one where they had the lady in a doeskin dress which would fit but in the book she wore doe skin trousers and never wore a dress.
Its like ones with the say a kitten on the front but no mention of one in the book. I also tend to go more by the blurb then the cover.

Interested to find out the answer to your question to Mary also as I too have the hard cover book. Of course its a reason to give the hardcopy away to say a library or shelter etc and have an electrical copy to keep for ourselves (except my hardcopy is signed and I have to keep that one.)

Jessica Nelson said...

I don't usually read novellas but I think a lot of readers like them. Congrats on your release! I think the cover is gorgeous too.

Jackie said...

Hi Janet,
Thanks for sharing with us today.

On cover art, it bugs me when something doesn't match the story. I feel as if the artist didn't read the book, and for some reason that disappoints me.

I read novellas occasionally. Recently, a friend asked me if I wanted to brainstorm a novella collection together. I'm excited about that, and I definitely appreciate all you shared with us today!

Have a great day!
Jackie Layton

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Janet, loved your story and those of your fellow authors as well.

I loved your novella because you did manage to pack a lot of emotion into the story. Sometimes that is lacking in novellas but all three of you did a wonderful job.

Thanks for tying up the loose end of David and Elisa. Whew! I always wonder about those characters who are left out in fiction land!

Lastly, I have 25K from Speedbo and it is interesting to look at it as a potential novella rather than full-length novel. Great exercise.

Obviously no need to put me in the drawing. Loved Brides of the West.

Happy Easter Monday to all! May Janet's breakfast soothe any chocolate hangovers out there.

Peace, Julie

Kirsten Arnold said...

Hi Janet,

I tend to like novellas around Christmas time. Maybe it's due to the hustle and bustle around the season and novellas provide a way to catch a quick story in between it all.

As for writing one, I tried once and failed. I was going for a novella and ended with 80,000 words. Not quite the short story I was going for, so I don't know about ever writing one. Although, I do like the idea of writing a novella to tell the story of secondary characters and put the final "the end" to a hero and heroine's story.

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Nancy! You and Julie may be related. ;-) When I started writing, I wrote longer books, too, but really like Love Inspired Historical's 75,000 word count. I've found I can tell the exact same story in fewer words and not lose anything. But, getting a story told in 25,000 words was a challenge for me.

I totally agree about the back cover blurb. I like covers to fit the story, but with an anthology of novellas that's not always possible.

Mini-breakfast with many on the plate works for me!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jenny! Love that you're a fan of novellas, especially connected stories. If you've read Wanted: A Family, you'll learn what happens to those characters.

Brides of the West's cover is gorgeous. One of my favorites.

You are such an encourager to writers. Your love of story, your involvement on blogs mean a lot. Thanks for your support.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Helen. Knew you'd get the coffee on. Thanks!

I haven't read a lot of novellas, but like you, devoured the stories almost in one gobble. :-)

Thanks for your interest in Brides of the West!

Janet

Rose said...

Hi Julie,

I like reading and writing novella's.

I also like the cover to reveal something about the story, but not 'give it away'.

All the stories in your novella sound great. I'd love to win it but if I don't, I'll definately be perusing the book store for it!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Carol! Love your attitude!! Congratulations on the word count on your new story. That's making pink lemondade out of lemons! Still, I'm praying this doesn't go long.

Janet

Cara Lynn James said...

Hi, Janet! I really like novellas although there don't seem to be very many around. I like shorter reads. Twenty years ago I preferred big, thick books but they've gone out of style and for me it's just as well. They take too long to finish.

Love the cover.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Janet, Congrats on your novella coming out. How fun. I don't care what size it is, I'm happy reading it. My selection totally depends upon whats happening in my life. Novellas are great for those busy times. Because if I get into a good book, I can't put it down and then I don't get my chores done.

I'm so looking forward to yours because everything you have written so far has delightful characters and interesting plots.

And yes, I'll have a stack of those dollar size pancakes and sausages. yum

Janet Dean said...

Vince, thank you for your kind words for Last Minute Bride!! I'm delighted you enjoyed the story! I thought of your points about a well written novella when I was writing this one. So pat yourself on the back. :-)

I loved the characters in Wanted: A Family, especially Elise. Yet didn't see her story as an entire book. The novella was the perfect opportunity to tell her story and revisit other characters from that book. Funny how attached I can get to paper people. LOL

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Mary! The novella is a perfect way to give readers a character "fix." Series books will do that, too. If they take off, a writer can make a career out of one setting.

People covers are my favorites, too. Love Inspired now asks for people scenes for our Historical covers. I'm sure they realize that's what historical readers want. Don't know about other LI covers.

Janet

Jeanne T said...

Hi Janet, I enjoyed your post. I haven't read a lot of novellas, but what you shared today makes me want to read this one. The thought of telling a story in 25,000 words scares me a little bit. :) I appreciate the tips you shared, though. That sounds like it would make it more conceivable to do. :)

The cover on your book is beautiful! I think a cover is a hook for a reader, and should hint at what's inside. :) Brides on the front is a biiig hint. :)

Janet Dean said...

Hi Melissa! Love that you said about writing a novella:"...if someone said, "Write us one and we'll pay for it." Yeah, I'd figure out a way. :) Spoken like an author. I prefer writing longer stories, too, but was honored to be asked to write a novella for the anthology. Sometimes authors pitch novellas to their editors, but usually authors are asked.

I agree that cover and blurb matter when it comes to picking up the book. I also buy by the author. I like to read those whose books I've enjoyed in the past, but I like to read debut authors, too.

I'm eager to see what Mary says, but I'd guess that the more readers downloading her free book the better.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Jenny, I can't get rid of an autographed book, at least from authors that I know and love.

I download my eBooks, which means paying for them since they've never been free. But don't want them to feel neglected. ;-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Jessica! I wonder how many readers feel the same. Will be interesting to see how the novella sells, as compared to full-length books.

Janet

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

Sipping from huge mug...

Good morning Janet! Beautiful spread today. YUM!

Welcome to the world of middle grade fiction! Our word counts range from 22-32K words TOPS.

For my own reading pleasure, I prefer a novel (caveat - must contain all the elements Seekervillians understand to hold my attention). However, something like this - a 3 in 1, with 3 different authors - that is quite appealing.

Do you see a trend in this direction? I've been noticing more of this type book, but perhaps I'm just coming out of a fog. Likely!

Love how you are taking other characters and telling their story. Makes lots of sense!

Thanks for the insight into another topic.

Long live Seekerville. (I assume it's west of middle Tennessee?! Ha Mary - great line...)

May is ready to play, however, I'm trying to FINISH May 2 this week since I didn't quite get done with it during SpeedBo. Alas, that editor woman needed more duct tape.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jackie! Have fun brainstorming the novella collection! Two authors will mean longer stories, which might be easier to do. Hope what I've said here helps. You might check Seekerville archives for more on writing novellas.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Julie! Thanks for buying Brides of the West. I'm so pleased you found the story emotional!! Always what an author wants to hear. :-)

Wow, you accomplished novella length in March. Good for you!!!

Janet

Jan Drexler said...

Good morning, Janet! It's nice to see your smiling face!

I'm looking forward to reading your novella - I've been waiting to find out what happened with Elise and David...

I think I'd enjoy the challenge of writing a shorter work. I've written a lot of short stories, but those are so short that the piece is over even before the characters get a chance to stretch their wings. A novella would give them a little more freedom, but still require the tight writing.

Hmmmm, maybe it would be something to tackle in between projects (if I don't have a deadline!)

Thanks for the mini-breakfast. What fun!

PS - I downloaded Mary's book, even though I bought the hard copy. I figure every download helps.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Kirsten, Seems like most readers like Christmas novellas for exactly the reason you give. I've yet to write a Christmas story. I need to do that!

Several aspects of writing Last Minute Bride were fun for me. I enjoyed giving Jake and Callie their wedding, as well as showing Callie and Elise's babies, Ronnie and Katie. I even discovered more about Katie's father, a man I only had a sketchy idea about in Wanted: A Family. So this writer got a pay off, too.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Rose! Thanks bunches for your interest in Brides of the West! I appreciate it.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Cara, I remember the huge sagas from years back. Readers are either more pressed for time now and/or want a faster paced novel. Publishers may be saving money, too, by opting for somewhat shorter books, though 100,000 words are still thriving.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Bless you, Sandra! What a sweet thing to say!

I used to cook dinner with a book in one hand, a spatula in the other, my attention more on the words on the page than the food on the stove. These days I'm less of a multi-tasker and read at night for an hour or so. Though a few books still keep me up into the wee hours.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jeanne T, Yes, the bride on the cover is more important than the landscape. Thank goodness! :-)

I'll admit to being a tad scared, too. Writing short is more challenging, at least for me, but I discovered it's definitely doable.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, KC and May! You know shorter word count so relate.

Not sure if novellas are a trend or if I'm just more aware. Interesting to think about. With the increase in the number of Love Inspired Historical releases each month, the novella is faster to write and deliver. Perhaps that's part of the reason if there is a trend.

Good wishes for finishing May 2! I'm overnighting a roll of duct tape. ;-)

Janet

Carol Moncado said...

As for the free downloads, I usually get them even if I already have the books because the total 'sales' bumps the book higher on the free list where it's more likely to get noticed and go higher and will often stay there - at least for a bit - when it goes back to the 'paid' side of things. The higher it is when it goes back to paid, the higher it's likely to stay on the paid list. If that makes sense. That's what I've heard anyway...

Ended up with 2500 words last night and gonna see where it takes me today :).

Did I mention 'enter me'? If I don't win, I'll be looking for it at the store ;).

Kav said...

I think one of the great benefits of novellas is getting a sneak peek at new-to-me authors. I usually pick out ones where I'm familiar with one of the writers and then introduce myself to the others. If I like their style and they can catch me up in the shorter novella-length story, I know I'll love their longer work. So it's a money-saving way to find new authors to love.

I love seasonal novellas -- especially Christmas and Mother's Day and Amish. LOL.

Janet, I'm so excited to read 'Brides of the West.' Don't enter me in the draw though, because mine is already on order!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jan, I don't think I'd enjoy writing short stories for the reason you mention. Novellas are a nice compromise. If you have time and secondary characters begging for their own story, give one a try. Nothing is wasted.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Nice to get the skinny on eBooks, Carol M. Makes sense.

Everyone is entered unless they specify they've read the book.

Have fun with the book!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Kav,

You make a fabulous point. Fun to get a peek at other authors we haven't read.

Cyber hugs for ordering Brides of the West! ((((U))))

Janet

Julie Lessman said...

Janet, I am SO fascinated over this whole novella thing you just tackled and SO impressed!! And I can't wait to read it because like many of your readers, I'm sure, I am intrigued to find out the rest of Elise and David's story!!

JANET SAID: "I’m guessing Seeker Julie would be screaming, as if tortured."

Gosh, Janet, am I THAT obvious?? Actually, this will shock some, I'm sure, but writing shorter books (or in my case, editing longer books down to appease an editor's mandate to cut 50,000 words) has turned out to be a fun challenge.

BUT ... that said, I'm not sure I could write a novella because it really does take a special talent to be able to infuse all the emotional punch of a great story into fewer words. I actually tried to write shorter for my Hearts of San Francisco series and was ELATED and quite proud when my original count came in at 115,000 words (a far cry from a novella, but a "novella," nonetheless for THIS writer!!) vs. my usual 170,000 word (which is what most of my other novels came in at). But after my crit partners gave me feedback, I was aghast to find my word count had grown to 130,000 words. It took everything in me to pare it down to 125,000, which is STILL 5,000 over my contract word count. Sigh.

One thing I DID learn in "attempting" to write shorter books (and some of you are going to go "Duh" when I say this, but I really didn't "get it" before I tried this in book 1 of my my next series, Love at any Cost) was that if you try -- I mean really TRY to have chapters no longer than only, say, 10 pages each (vs. my usual 30 pages!!) and only a page or two for each scene (vs. my usual 10-30) you can greatly reduce the word count. Yeah, I know -- not a great a revelation for most of you, but an Edison moment (light bulb going off) for me. But it takes discipline and focus to do that, two things that a novella writer needs that I sorely lack. But I'm working on it ...

Fun post today, Janet, and VERY timely for me as I crank away on Marcy/Patrick's prequel, which I HOPE will be closer to a novella length than a door-stop novel. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JANET SAID: "Nancy, you and Julie may be related. ;-)"

LOL ... I'm thinking that after her reading her excerpt from Naomi's Almost Kiss blog last week!! :)

As to your questions, I definitely see the cover as a hook or a tease, not a reveal.

I am not typically a novella reader because if I get invested in a story, I don't want it to end, so the shorter books frustrate me. Which is why I am NOT a magazine reader at all because if I invest time in reading, I want it to be something I can sink my teeth into and stay with for a while. BUT ... I will admit that there have been those rare times when I wanted to read something short and sweet due to lack of time, and I would say a novella is perfect for that.

Hugs,
Julie

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Good morning, Janet!

Novellas are so much fun, because that's where many of us writers start! I remember writing 10-page stories in college writing classes, then graduating up to novellas, even if I meant them to be short stories. It was the breeding ground for the novel-length stories I have in my head now.

I've only written one publishable novella, a ghost story that I originally intended for a short story, but it just kept going! I think it's right around 27K. I've considered making it longer by expanding the modern character who's trying to solve the story behind the supposed "ghost."

As a reader, I don't mind novellas when they are in a collection together, or have a common theme. It's a fun change of pace for a while. I also like how many authors use novellas as you did, to tie up secondary characters. Julie Garwood did this, in her "For the Roses" books. The main novel involves her MC, Mary Rose, then she wrote four novellas, giving an individual romance to Mary Rose's four adoptive brothers. It was fun to see what happened to those boys.

I'd love to be in the drawing for your book, and look forward to reading it!

P.S. Since I live in Nebraska, we consider ourselves the Midwest, so I always find it funny when people refer to Indiana and Ohio as the "Midwest." That's nowhere near "midwest" for us!

MaryC said...

Hi Janet,

Just a quick comment because I'm off to 1k1hr.

I LOVE novellas. I especially like them for times when work is hectic. I need to always have something I'm reading and novellas are great for when I don't have enough time to allow myself to get wrapped up in a book. They sate my reading appetite.

Be back later to read all the comments.

Jan Drexler said...

Stephanie, I've lived all over the mid-west (MI, IN, KS, and now SD - along with a couple other states), and the one thing that never changes is the farther west you go, the bigger "back east" gets!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Julie! You are adorable! And hilarious. Love your doorstop novel image, especially while we're here in Florida. When we open both the front and patio doors, a wind tunnel is created. Even your longest books couldn't hold that front door open. :-)

Duh, perhaps, but you make a great point when you say writing shorter scenes and chapters is far easier to do than fulfill a general mandate to write shorter. I guarantee you have discipline and focus or you couldn't write your wonderful books. You just have to buy into the idea.

Janet

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I love to read. Period. Novels, novellas, short stories - it's ALL good!

Same goes for writing - I've written novels that hang around 70K words, short stories around 1K and novellas at 20 - 25K and love them all. For me when the story is done, it's done however long or short it may be.

Personally I think covers and titles should be reflective of the story in some way.

I would love to win a copy of this book! pthib07@gmail.com

Good luck & God's blessings on the beautiful Resurrection Monday!
(okay I know that's not official but why not? we celebrate Resurrection Sunday so why not carry that joy and power into the next day/week/month/year(s)???)

JMHO :-)

PamT

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

JAN, that is SO true! I remember reading John Jakes' Kent Chronicles (an 8-part series chronicling one fictional family's history in America from the Revolution through the U.S.'s centennial), and in the third book, the characters "go west" to homestead. However, this is the late 1700s, so going west meant they got to Ohio. The characters ended up turning back because the west was too tough for them. I remember thinking, "oh, man, there is so much more to America!" It just hadn't been explored yet.

BTW, those Kent books (published in the 1970s) are those big sweeping sagas that I think CARA was talking about. And for JULIE, those are huge, honking door-stopper books.

Jamie Adams said...

I really enjoy novellas. I've chosen many books based on the cover. Love the cover on your new book btw!
Covers are so important. Right now I'm reading a book where the cover is all wrong for the story as far as I'm concerned so I go out of my way to ignore it.
I loved Wanted: A Family and have to get my hands on a copy of Brides of The West.

Erica Vetsch said...

I've written 5 novellas now, and boy howdy, they are HARD to write! I had a hard time paring down the stories. By far the easiest one to write was a Christmas story where the hero and heroine knew each other at the outset. I've got a collection of Mail Order Bride stories coming out at the end of this year, and it was so hard to get everything packed into just 20K words per story.

Love the story ideas for this collection, Janet, and I would love to read it!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Hey, Janet! Your novella sounds so sweet! And "Indiana is west of somewhere." Cute, Mary. LOL

This is going to sound terrible. Honestly, I don't read many novellas, but I really haven't given them much of a chance. I want a long, juicy novel to sink my teeth into. The exception is Mary's novellas. I do read those, but hers aren't like other people's novellas. But then, Mary's not like other people. But as a rule, I don't read them, (but yours does sound very good, Janet) but I could see myself writing one if it was like a prequel to one of my other stories, or like a really long epilogue. Something like that.

And covers should be an enticement to read the story, like the title. It should hint at what the story is going to be about. There are so many great covers out there these days. Only rarely do I see a cover that doesn't match the story at all. And your new cover looks awesome, Janet! Gotta love those cover art people. I love mine!!!

Debby Giusti said...

All three novellas sound wonderful, Janet!

I've only written one novella: YULE DIE, that appeared in a two-in-one titled CHRISTMAS PERIL. Margaret Daley was the other author--an honor for me to have my work included with her story.

I enjoyed the shorter format. The story seemed to write itself, which rarely happens to me. All in all, it was a good experiece. I need to think of another novella idea and query my editor. Thanks for planting that seed.

Happy Easter Monday!!!

Debby Giusti said...

I'm flying to Milwaukee, WI, today and will attend Barbara Vey's Readers' Appreciation Luncheon tomorrow. The expected temperature tomorrow in WI is mid-40s. This Georgia girl is going to be cold! :)

Hope to see some Seekerville friends at the luncheon! Be sure to say hello if you're in the crowd.

Casey said...

I enjoy a novella if it can break the cliche the genre gives it just by the tight restrictions. I just recently read Cherry Blossom Capers and loved Gina Conroy's novella: great voice, strong writing and quick pace, that didn't feel *too* fast in the romance department

I still have your latest LI on my shelf, Janet. Can't wait till the day I can pull it down. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Finally, something I think I might be able to master. Since I write short stories. The novella.

Can't wait to read yours, Janet!!

Debra E. Marvin said...

Sometimes I want more time with the characters and a novella is over too soon.

If you're a plotter you can see right up front how quickly the pacing goes. Without plotting I imagine its easy to get a few chapters in and still have a lot of story to get to!
Thanks for the mini-lesson Janet!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Mary C. Novellas=appetite saters. Love that, if there is such a word. :-) See you after you get those words on the screen.

Janet

Brandi said...

Janet, your advice was helpful to me. I'm working on a speculative fiction novella now, and I was curious as to how the structure worked, versus novel length. Thank you!

In answer to the novel/novella question, I think both vehicles suit my writing style. For my historical romance Garters For Lace, the word count was around 75k. Historicals need to be a bit longer than novellas. However, for my steampunk story, I think novella length allows me to stick with the plot and keep the action going. When you're writing about automatons and island princesses, you can't slow it down, lol!

Christina said...

I think it takes great talent to write a novella. One I haven't found yet.

No need to enter me because I can't wait that long to read these stories. I'll have to make a special trip to town tonight.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Pam, good for you! Moms appreciate eaters who aren't finicky about their food and authors appreciate those who are willing to sample the gamut of fiction or non-fiction. And better yet, write it!

Resurrection Monday. Resurrection month or all forty days that Jesus made himself known before He ascended. Can't remember His precious gift too often. And the apostles who also suffered for their faith in Him.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Stephanie! Your ghost story sounds interesting!

I loved Julie Garwood's Roses stories!

The Midwest has quite an expanse, doesn't it? I remember just how wide when we're driving to Colorado.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jamie! Thanks for your kind words for Wanted: A Family. Hope you get to revisit Elise and David, Callie and Jake, Mrs. Mildred Uland. And meet new people, too, like Flossie Twite, Doctor Jeremiah and Mrs. Lenora Lucas. Nice people, I promise. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Afternoon Erica! I'm thrilled to hear you have a collection of mail-order bride stories releasing! I just love them! I haven't heard of one author doing all the stories. I'm very impressed.

Thanks for emphasizing the point that a novella is far easier to write when the hero and heroine already know each other.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Melanie! Not reading a lot of novellas doesn't sound terrible to me. I hadn't either, but now that I've read a few, I find I enjoy them, especially if they feel like a full-length novel. The ones I've read do.

Your covers have been great! Applauding our publishers' Art departments!!

Janet

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Janet,

You're making me think today! I do enjoy the odd novella but I much prefer books of substance!

But I am dying to ready Elise's story!

As for writing, I think it would be so much harder to write in a short format - and I take my hat off to all you brave women who can do that!

Have a great day!

Cheers,
Sue
sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Janet Dean said...

Hi Debby! Your novella Yule Die was one of the first novellas I read. I loved it! I still smile at your title. Talk about clever. I can't imagine a novella or any book writing itself so now I'm feeling kind of whiny. But glad I planted a seed. Hope it's Jack the Beanstalk fruitful.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Debby, give Barbara Vey a huge Seekerville hug! Stay warm.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Casey. Writers have to give readers a satisfying romance, whether the story is long or short. It helps to keep the hero and heroine together as much as possible. To give them time to interact, to stir up conflict and add sexual tension.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hello Tina! I think you'd love writing a novella! You understand the importance of making every word count, of eliminating the unimportant and getting to the core of the story. Even your blog comments prove it.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good afternoon, Debra! I can see that you hate to leave characters when you want more, but I think it helps if the characters are from other stories where you've seen them in action before. The novella fills in the blanks now that they're in the starring role.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Brandi! Wishing you all the best with your speculative fiction novella. I agree that a novella demands a fast pace, yet it shouldn't feel rushed, if that makes sense.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Christina, you've made my day with your desire to run to town to buy my book!!!! That's above and beyond. If I had one, you'd get the fan sticker, for sure.

Hope you can find Brides of the West. My d/h just returned from a Walmart run and didn't see any Love Inspired Historicals. Though I'd like to think they've all been sold, I'm concerned they haven't been shelved yet. They weren't there early in the month either.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Sue, one of the unsettling aspects of accepting a contract to write a novella is not knowing if you can do it. So accepting that call does take courage, but probably no more than any book contract. A contract says, I can and I will. So we do. :-) That's the bottom line.

Janet

Virginia said...

This post is the perfect example of what goes through someone's mind when they see a small book like Li and say, "It's so short, I could do that."

Um, yeah. You think it easy until you try. Short does NOT mean easy! You and Ruthy and the Seeker gals are masters of getting the story in without wandering.

Honestly, 25K would be really tough, but I know my story would probably be much better for it. I still tend to wander. And readers are willing to follow, as long as you know where you're going!!!

Can't wait to read this!

Virginia said...

MELISSA, I went ahead and downloaded it because another fb friend said the free book really helps the ranking (for the free part). It gets the word out!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Virginia! Thanks for saying that short doesn't mean easy. Writing tight is a skill that has to be learned. And can be.

My first LIH was a single title that I trimmed from 100,000 to 85,000 words to fit LIH guidelines. After the book sold, the line's word count changed and I cut the story more. I eliminated the villain's point of view, not allowed in LIH books. Other than that, I didn't lose a thing. Nor did not knowing what the bad guy was thinking harm the story.

All stories aren't easy to write. The only people who think writing is easy haven't written a book yet or maybe I should say, haven't written a book to please an editor yet.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Out of Control is number one on Amazon in the free section! Just proves downloading Mary's book is a good thing.

Janet

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Janet,

I'm a fan of longer stories myself. I've never tried to write a novella, and I feel like I'd try to make the story too complicated for the short word count that I'd have. Still, I see the advantages to teaming up with one or two other authors to write one.

If I wrote one, I think it would have to be with characters already established in another story, or who are already half in love with each other but something is holding them back. I KNOW there'd be no way for me to squeeze everything from the first meeting to "happily-ever-after" into a novella.

Digging for Pearls said...

Congrats Janet!

I think I'd have a harder time sticking with 25,000 words. Guess I'm wordy in general. Ha! Ha! :)

Blessings,
Jodie Wolfe

PatriciaW said...

I love novellas. I especially like holiday or seasonal anthologies, but setting-based anthologies can be fun too.

Good novellas have to satisfy on all levels, as much as longer works. Not sure whether it would be harder to write, given the shorter length. Not easy, but perhaps easier since the story won't have as many characters and/or subplots.

Glynna Kaye said...

Can hardly wait to read your novella, Janet!

I've always loved holiday novellas because they are perfect for a time of year when with all that's going on you don't have much reading time. Yet with a novella you can have a "taste" of the holidays--and they are a great way to try out a new author!

Janet - What other tips can you give to the rest of us for settling on a goal, motivation and conflict for a manuscript that's only 1/3 (or even less) of a standard one?

CatMom said...

Great post, Janet--and I'm very eager to read this book (I've LOVED all of your books and they have a nice place on my "Keeper shelf"). ~ As a writer and a reader I really do enjoy novellas. I've read quite a few, but have only tried my hand at writing one--a tad challenging, but fun! ~ I love the cover of your new book too, and that is one of the "selling points" of a book, in my humble opinion (LOL). ~ Thanks again for sharing this post today, and please enter me in the drawing. Hugs from Georgia (where we're having the ideal Spring day!), Patti Jo

Janet Dean said...

Hi Naomi! I agree. Using secondary characters from a prior book who were attracted to one another made things a whole lot easier for me. As you say, they had something holding them back, usually something that tied into their pasts.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jodie! Writers better be wordy. Words are our bread and butter after all. :-) Getting control of those words, now that's harder. Choosing, deleting, corralling them into sentences, paragraphs and scenes. Not an easy job.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Patricia W! You've listed some of the advantages of writing shorter novels. Thanks!

Janet

Walt Mussell said...

I would have to say that I prefer a longer story, as opposed to a novella. However, given that my only published work is a 12,000 word short story, I like them, too.

Janet Dean said...

Thanks Glynna. With only one novella under my belt, I'm no expert on GMC, but I'd suggest keeping things simple. If the goal is short term, important for both and forces the hero and heroine to work together that works well with a novella. You want them together as much as possible. If there's trouble between them--and you probably want something standing in the way before the book opens--having to work together ups the conflict and adds tension.

Janet

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Janet! Sooooo late arriving today. It's been a busy "long weekend" with all the Easter activities and hanging out with the grandkids.

Enjoyed your insights into the novella. It isn't easy getting all the necessary elements of a novel into the shorter format, but it can be such valuable training in zeroing in on what's most relevant to the story. I'm really looking forward to reading yours!

Oh, and as for covers reflecting what's inside? I much prefer that they do, but as a published author I'm learning that can be the exception to the rule! ;>D

Nancy C said...

Janet, congrats on the release! And I hope everyone had a lovely Easter.

As a reader, I like to 'meet' new writers through novellas. I don't buy novellas unless I recognize at least one, and preferably two, of the writers. Knowing the quality of their work assures me the writer who isn't known to me will also be good.

As a writer, the next thing I plan to tackle is a novella. I have a story idea that isn't overly complicated and I'm ready for the challenge of something shorter.

About the book cover -- yours is wonderful -- I'm forgiving of minor mistakes because usually the cover is done based on provided info. What I do expect from a cover is guidance as to the 'heat' level of a book and its mood -- whether it's heavy drama or packed with humor.

Looking forward to the read :-)

Nancy C

Lyndee said...

Hi Janet,
I'm reading An Inconvenient Match right now, BTW, and it's a good example of why I like longer works - I don't want good books to end, lol. I noticed that I was down to only reading abt 20 pages a day, just to keep it going. I hate saying good bye to characters I like!

From a writer's point of view, I think writing shorter is a lot harder. But I'm thinking I will give it a try at some point. I have two finished manuscripts. The first ran about 20,000 words too long for the target market and required a ton of revising to shorten, while the second manuscript came in on target, but I can't imagine what I'd remove to get it into Novella form. Glad I don't have to do that at this point!

Thanks for the great post. Love the cover of the novella and will be watching for it.

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Congratulations on having such a great trio of writers all in one book!

As for your questions:
I'd love to try writing a novella one day. I'm sure it would be quite the learning experience. Now that you've done one Janet, would you do another?

I think book covers are another hook.

Mary F. Allen said...

Hi Janet! Mary Allen here wishing you a great day after EAster. I usually read novels because I like taking time to know the characters. I have read some very good novellas and they tend to leave me a little hungry, which can be good. After all, you want to keep the readers hooked. Speaking of hooks, covers make great hooks, hinting of what is to come.

Carol Moncado said...

Lyndee - I love it when books take place in the same general area and you can have some of those peeps pop in and out. Pretty much everything I've worked on takes place in the same town of about 15000 people [near a medium sized city of about 150K people] and most of them go to the same church [of about 800-1000] so you can have some overlap but it wouldn't be TOO odd for them to not know each other you know? I hate saying good-bye to the characters as an author too, you know?

Does anyone else do that or just me? Of course, until I actually have contracts on them, there's no way to know which one will come first ;).

Pam Hillman said...

Tyndale and Barbour used to publish several anthologies a year. At that time, it was a way to break in, and I submitted as many proposals as I could.

As a matter of fact, Stealing Jake started out as a novella proposal for Tyndale several years ago.

It didn't make the cut for their "Cowboy Christmas" collection, but eventually the story turned into a full-length novel and landed right back at the same house where the idea first originated.

Kinda cool!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Patti Jo! I know of no higher compliment than keeping a book on your shelves. Thank you! Hugs from Florida where we're having a gorgeous day that feels more summer than spring.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hey, Walt! Congrats on the published short story. Anything that we get published is no small potatoes! The length of your published works will change when the time is right. Hang in.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Myra! I'm sure you had a special Easter with your family.

Nothing is perfect, but overall, I think the covers out there are amazing!!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Nancy C. Thanks! We each have authors who are auto buys. Nice that novellas expose readers to new writers who may become favorites too.

You have a great attitude! Wishing you all the best with writing a novella.

You make a great point about the cover revealing the heat level and tone of the story. I'd add the level of violence.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Lyndee, I'm delighted you're enjoying An Inconvenient Match!! Thank you!

Whittling down a full-length novel to a novella wouldn't be pretty. Might feel like a massacre. Where did I put my chainsaw? ;-)

Janet

Cathy Shouse said...

Janet, I can't believe I've come in so late. Love your post. I've always wondered if a novella would be easier. I suspect it wouldn't be. :)

I was just in Walmart today and didn't look closely enough. You're telling me your novella anthology was there?

Well, maybe I will win it. I know it will be fantastic, as all your stories are.

Janet Dean said...

Good evening Eva Maria. I'm excited to share the pages of Brides of the West with Vicki and Pamela!

I'd write another novella, especially if asked. I'd be a little smarter the next time.

I'm enjoying Highland Hearts, Sheena and Logan's story or so I hope. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi there, Mary A! I hadn't thought about it, but a little hunger for more is a good thing. Thanks for stopping by! Hope you had a blessed Easter.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

I'm with you, Carol M. I hate saying goodbye to the story people in my books. I know more about them than I share on the page. :-)
I think you'll have a soft spot for those characters who made it to print first. But they're all special, like our real life kids.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Pam, that's cool! Stealing Jake has come full circle and confirms that nothing we write is wasted.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good evening, Cathy! Brides of the West should have been on the shelves April 3. Hope it is! Thanks for your kind words!

Janet

Natalie Monk said...

Historical novellas were my best friends as a teenager. I recently went back and reread several anthologies, because I remembered those characters so well and wanted to visit them again. Even in a short amount of words, the stories made an impression.

Oh, covers! I can go in Barnes & Noble and spend two hours just looking at covers. Not exaggerating at all. I LOVE book covers. If they have detailed, historical clothing for the cover characters, I look twice as long. There is something about a ball gown, a prairie skirt, or a cowboy's trench coat that grabs my attention. :)

Covers that show something about the story are my favorite. If there is a prop in the scene--a camera, carriage, shotgun--anything that tells me more about the plot, that's great. I am usually hooked by the cover.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Natalie! Nice to hear that novella characters stuck in your mind. Rereading books we love is like visiting with dear friends.

You are indeed a book lover! Not everyone is as aware of the details. Writers are. I enjoy spending time in bookstores, too, studying covers, reading blurbs, picking a few off the shelves to take home with me.

Janet

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Thanks for the post! I really enjoy a well-written novella. I hope to write a novella if it gets picked up.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Carrie! Hope you get to write a novella too!

Janet

Cindy W. said...

As a reader, I enjoy reading Novellas, especially when traveling as it's something I can read quick during my journey.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Cindy W. said...

As a reader, I enjoy reading Novellas, especially when traveling as it's something I can read quick during my journey.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Rachelle Rea said...

What a neat post!

Yes, I definitely see the cover as a hook. That's one of the first things I look at to judge what's inside--harsh truth, but truth nonetheless. :) Those are some really lovely covers for your books, Janet. :)

Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of your book.

biblioprincess15@yahoo (dot) com