Thank you Seekers for inviting me back. Someone here in Seekerville has asked my secret to writing a novella. The secret, or mine at least, is that neither of the novellas I’ve written started out as novellas. I have a hard time letting go of characters even after their stories have been set aside for whatever reason.
These rejected characters take up residence in my head, stewing on the back burner for years, but eventually demand attention. The only way to quiet them is to finish their stories.
I had a full proposal—tag line, pitch, long and short synopsis and the first fifty pages—that I’d sat on for years when I decided to turn One Night in Reno into a novella. Frustrated at having to set aside yet another full-length project in order to meet a contracted deadline for a different book, I decided to dip my toes into the self-publishing pool with something shorter.
A friend suggested serializing the project I’d been working on and putting it out in pieces. But that didn’t sit well with me. For one thing, I’d paid good money for a cover—one cover. Then there was the fear that I’d want to change the beginning once I started revising the middle and end. Or maybe it was simply fear.
I didn’t want to fail with the project of my heart.
But her suggestion forced me to look at all the projects I had sitting around.
Oh, boy, did I have a lot of proposals collecting dust.
It takes me, on average, six months to finish an 85,000 word Superromance. By the time I’m done I have half a dozen new ideas bouncing around and another super contract to complete. The time between stages of completion and contracts comes in spits and spurts. And while I write during those down times, I only seem to finish whatever winds up under contract.
One Night in Reno was a soft rejection, meaning it was never rejected it outright. But after four rewrites of the proposal I was tired of rewriting it. I’d segmented the three-chapter proposal into novella sized chapters, slapped on an ending and put it on my website. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with my first attempt at an ending. My readers, who’d been asking for Garrett’s story were okay with it, but I could tell they weren’t quite satisfied either.
While going through my projects this was the one that kept jumping out at me. It was already in short chapters and the closest I had to being finished. It just needed a new ending. So I got out my original synopsis and simply asked myself, how do I get from where I’m at to this original ending in as short of word count as possible. I had 7,000 words written and was shooting for 10,000 at the time. It soon became the never ending, ending.
But I managed to wrap it up at about 15,000 words.
Yes, I took time away from my deadline to do this, but from my friend’s suggestion to publication took only five days. That included reading, revising and writing an additional 7,000 words, as well as having it copy edited and proofed. Thankfully, I had friends working on standby who wanted to help me succeed.
I’ve managed to get one other novella up in the six months since One Night in Reno first came out (again while I was under deadline) and will be looking at my entire backlog of proposals sooner rather than later.
There you have my very simple formula for writing a novella.
Don’t write a novella, write a novel—only shorter and tighter.
Why turn your rejected and neglected proposals into a novella?
For anyone who might be apprehensive about self-publishing or short on time consider starting with a novella. If you’re like me you learn better by doing. I’m a lot less worried about putting my first full-length indie novel out with a couple of novellas under my belt.
Novellas are also a good way to introduce readers to a new series or keep their attention between full-length novels, not to mention satisfying Amazon’s algorithms--especially if those novels are spaced more than three months apart. Anything is better than letting a story with potential sit around collecting dust.
Turning an old proposal into a novella can also be therapeutic. Simply completing the story
Tips for turning your rejected and neglected proposals into a novella:
What defines a novella? According to the Merriam-Webster, a novella is a short novel—a story that is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. Unless you’re entering a contest with length requirements between 10,000 – 40,000 words is a good length.
A good proposal already has the meet (often called a cute meet), rising action and ends on a hook. Which means you’re halfway to the end already.
The good news is you won’t have room for a sagging middle or repetition. Keep your time frame and pacing tight and any subplots to a minimum. To get to the end review your synopsis (if you have one). Define the story GMC (goal, motivation and conflict) for your hero and heroine. Don’t take short cuts with characterization, but do limit the number of characters. Setting is still important, just don’t get carried away with description.
Tie up any loose threads you introduced at the beginning or eliminate them altogether and concentrate on the climax (sometimes called the black moment) and resolution. The resolution does not have to end with an HEA. But does have to end with the promise of an HEA if you’re writing romance.
Bio: When an aptitude test labeled her suited for librarian or clergy, Rogenna joined the Navy. Ever the rebel, she landed in the chaplain's office where duties included operating the base library. She's served Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps personnel in such exotic locales as Midway Island and the Pentagon, which she loves to write about.
She has plenty of proposals waiting to be turned into novellas
Please visit her website at www.rogennabrewer.com
Today Seekerville is giving one commenter the opportunity to win One Night in Reno AND One Star-Spangled Night from Rogenna's One Night Novella Series. These are both ebooks for Kindle. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.