Friday, June 20, 2014

The Long and Short of Writing Novellas(And Book Giveaway)

Margaret Brownley
by Margaret Brownley

My husband is a bottom line kind of guy. Whenever my daughter came home from a date he would ask if she had a good time.  That's it. That's all he wanted to know.  Not me. I wanted all the juicy details.  Everything.

So writing long historical novels was right up my alley. Eighty-five thousand words?  No problem.  A twenty-thousand word novella?  Now that was a horse of a different color.

So how does a long-winded writer learn to write short?  I'm embarrassed to admit this, but when I wrote my first novella I actually wrote something like fifty thousand words and then cut like crazy.  Now I know better, but novellas still pose a challenge.  Skimp on story or characterization and readers will feel cheated.


Why Short is the New Long


There are many advantages to writing short. E-publishing has made novellas popular again and many publishers are getting on the bandwagon. Readers like them because they can finish a story at one sitting. Some recent print collections including A Log Cabin Christmas even made the N.Y. Times bestselling list.  


Writing novellas helps to keep your name out there between books.  Writing short also makes you concentrate on writing strengths and weaknesses.


Of course if you're the type of writer whose strengths include writing long narratives and intricate descriptions this might not work for you.  There simply is no room in a novella to go into great detail.  Every word has to count and then some. Lucky you if writing strengths include action scenes and dialogue—the crux of a well-paced novella.


I also found that the sooner the narrative question can be worked into the story the better. This creates tension and keeps the reader interested.


Margaret's novella
Courting Trouble
contained in
Four Weddings and a Kiss
now available as
a single novella
For COURTING TROUBLE, my story in Four Weddings and a Kiss, I got started on the wrong track.  I opened the scene in the heroine's point of view and wasted valuable verbiage describing her arrest for the murder of her husband.  My friend solved the problem. "Dump the first chapter," she said.


Taking her advice I started the story with the second chapter.  Not only did this save nine hundred words, it pulled the reader in quicker and we immediately understand the hero's dilemma.  The woman on trial for murder has the worst possible reputation.  He has no desire to defend her, but how can he say no to her young son's plea for help? And what if fails to win the case? Putting these emotional and narrative questions up front quickly grabs a reader's attention and that's what it's all about.

Wait. There's more:

Keep Character Goals Clear and the Time Period Short

My heroine's goal was simple.  She wanted the jury to find her innocent. This is something that can happen (or not) in a few short days.  Goals that take years to accomplish don't generally work in a novella.  The challenge I had was keeping the time short—and the romance long, if you know what I mean.  I didn't want the relationship to feel rushed.  


Don't Skimp on Characterization

Readers want to know what makes your characters tick and why they do the things they do.  Goals and motivations must be clear.

Keep the Story Moving

Save the introspection and flashbacks for your novels.

Forget the Crowds

The fewer characters in a novella, the better.  Everyone has to pull his or her weight and then some.   

Limit Subplots and Viewpoints

Stick to the main story as much as possible. Subplots should be short and easily resolved. Some people say you should tell your story from a single viewpoint, but I write romance and like to go back and forth between the hero and heroine.  Two viewpoints are probably the most you can get away with.


 Remember, big ideas don't need a lot of words—they just need the right words.  And that's the long and the short of it.

Now it's your turn:  Do you read novellas? If so name your favorite.  If you don't read them, tell us why. Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a copy of Four Weddings and a Kiss.

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR MARGARET BROWNLEY has penned more than thirty historical and contemporary novels. Her books have won numerous awards, including Readers' Choice and Award of Excellence. She's a former Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist and has written for a TV soap.  She is currently working on a new series.  Not bad for someone who flunked eighth grade.  Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence. 


Find Margaret:



Marianne Barkman said...

I've already read the book, Margaret. The stories were great. I don't particularly like novellas as I want to really get to know the characters, you know? Novellas are just too .... Short. Mom likes them because they are so short! There you have it

Terri said...

Hi Marianne, I like reading novellas and enjoy writing them as well.

In fact I just read My Friend Louie the other night. At Christmas I read multiple novellas.

As for my favorite, sorry, but I can't choose just one!

I would love to read yours, so please enter me in the drawing.

Loves To Read said...

Great post Marianne! I'm a reader - not a writer - but I love novellas and novella collections. Please enter me in the drawing.

Jana Vanderslice said...

I like novellas better now than I did several years ago. I think writers do a better job now, & I don't feel so ripped off when the story ends so quickly. My mom loves them!

And speaking of Mom, Thank You to DEBBY GUISTI for the amazon gift card a few weeks ago! I’m getting a book I can share with my mom. My Mom is Spectacular! She hugged us close and read to us. She took us to the library week after week, year after year! What a Lady!!

Jana Vanderslice said...

And RUTHIE!!!! The other night at a team meeting I said. “That’s STINKIN’ Incredible!!”
You are rubbing off on us! :)

Seekerville etiquette would suggest I offer midnight snacks to everyone since it’s only 11:30 pm here. I’ve got Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi and Oreo Crème filled Chewy Chips Ahoy!!!! Can summer Get Any Better than a smash up of Oreo Filling & Chips Ahoy??!?!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome back, Margaret.

I am a novella lovin' gal! Write em and read em.

Can't wait to read Four Weddings and a Kiss. Awesome cover.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I preordered this book and now it's in my Kindle and I can't wait to have time to chill and enjoy the stories... which will probably come when I'm trapped in a car this summer.

Margaret, I'm having so much fun writing novellas! Learning to write short is a trick in itself, but it is So Much Fun!!!!! Quick gratification, and I remembered how much I loved short stories when I was younger... I love novels that march you over a rainbow to the happy ending and I love novellas that allow a quick dash to the same purpose, like landing on one of those magic paths in Candyland that let you short-cut your way half-way home. SWEET!!!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...




Oreo-creme-filled Chips Ahoy??? HAS THERE BEEN A MARRIAGE OF WONDERFUL??? she asks.

Oh my stars, and the fact that you said "Stinkin' incredible" just means that you're brilliant beyond compare, darling, and that your beauty outshines the sun.

Now gimme a cookie. Please.

And why, oh why, isn't cookie spelled "cooky"? Because then the plural would be cookies.

Why the 'ie'?

I need more coffee.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

COFFEE HAS ARRIVED!!!!! With our delicious cookies above and the diet Wild Cherry soda deliciousness!!!!

Kav said...

Okay, the whole Oreo creamed filled Chips Ahoy just seems wrong somehow. I'm a cookie purest. :-)

I love novellas. I love novels. I love reading, so maybe that's why. I'm open to a well-crafted story no matter what the length. And I love when the novellas are cleverly connected, the way y'all did in Four Weddings and a Kiss -- which I've read and LOVED, by the way.

I also appreciate the way authors manage a soul-satisfying read in that short word count. That seems to be an impossible feat to me!

And I adore Amish novellas especially -- and that's a genre that seems to publish a lot of novellas.

Also love the opportunity of 'meeting' new authors in a novella. I'll buy one because I'm drawn to one particular author so I know I'm going to at least love that story and then -- surprise -- I discover a 'new-to-me author' in the bargain. Can't get any better than that, can it?

Jackie said...

I enjoyed your post today. Now I'm wondering why I don't read novellas very often. Maybe because I don't have much time to read, and when I do it's usually 1-2 chapters. So I may as well read a long story.

I had heard novellas are gaining in popularity. Thanks for sharing today!

Piper Huguley said...

On the self-publishing side of things, a number of authors look at novellas as a funnel to the series. I have two, so I knew I better learn how to write one. I'm more like you Margaret, and knew how to write the long novel, but not short.
My novella seems to have worked out pretty well. I've written two so far this year and I have some others in mind. Thank you for coming to Seekerville to encourage other writers!

Mary Hicks said...

Margaret, good post! I enjoy reading novellas and I even enjoy writing very short stories in between the novel I'm working on.
One appeal of the novella is time. When I start a book, no matter the length, I can't put it down until I finish. That could be an investment of three days for a really long book. I don't have time for that! :-) Except when I deserve a big treat.

But I do reward myself a day every now and then to do nothing but read all day long. I consider two/ three hundred pages an easy day read.

Glynna Kaye said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Margaret! Thank you for the great tips to writing novellas--which I'd someday LOVE to do!

Novellas are a perfect way to be introduced to writers new to me and I especially enjoy Christmas novellas as they give me a "taste" of the season when I don't have much time for reading. Novellas are also nice for tucking in a suitcase or on the Kindle while traveling. :)

Vince said...

Hi Margaret:

Loved what you had to say about novellas. They have become my favorite format for romances. However, I only like them when they are real ‘little novels’ and not just long short stories. That is, I like there to be at least ten chapters and a real plot. I find the HEAs in a novella are every bit as satisfying as a long novel. You get your HEA with less reading and time. You get more HEAs per year. You have less invested if the book is not very good but you finished it anyway. Plus many more reasons as well.

My favorite all time novella is: “Yule Die” by Debby Giusti which is in a collection called, “Christmas Peril”. I use this book as my model for writing a novella. It is perfect.

My next favorite is “Red Kettle Christmas” by Ruth Logan Herne in a collection called, “Love Finds You in the City at Christmas.” While this was an historical, I was on location at the time the story takes place. (Caveat: this might be a short novel. Ruth will have to tell us.)

Next is, “City Sidewalks” by Julia M. Toto, which is her first published romance and takes place in Tulsa where I live. The work and setting is verifiably excellent. This is one of the most enjoyable romances I've ever read.

The best western and most creative nobrlls and BTW the one romance I could not see how the author could ever pull ff is “The Sweetest Gift”, by Mary Connealy, in a collection called, “A Home For Christmas”. I put this story up right there with Louis L’Amour’s version of this same classic story. This is a must read Christmas novella for those who love the classics.

I must say I do like the option to buy either the collection or the individual novella. That is a big improvement of late. Of course, winning the collection is also very nice. : )


Debby Giusti said...


Thanks for being with us today. Excellent blog, filled with sound advice.

The art of writing tight prose pays off with novellas.

Lucky journalists who cut their teeth writing for the rags. Every word counts, and they learn to pack a story in a few inches of newsprint.

Your bio intrigued me. Care to share about your TV soap opera experience? Would love a peek into that world.

We recently talked about writers who overcame much in order to see their dreams come true. Sounds like you had a few hurdles to leap, especially in eighth grade.

Congrats on your determination and success.

Audra Harders said...

Good morning, Margaret! Great advice on writing a novella. I'm with you, I find it hard to switch from writing 85K to 20K. The good Lord blessed me with lots of words in my head and I want to use them!!

Thanks for nailing the highlights to include in a novella. Think to-the-point. Got it.

Now off to implement!!

Debby Giusti said...

You're making me smile this morning. Thanks for your kind words about "Yule Die." :)

Pam Hillman said...

I'm finishing up my 2nd contracted novella for Barbour right now, and I really like the process.

The shorter format is much easier to do a complete read-thru in one day, two at the max, and make sure I've got all the elements in the right places and the pacing on track.

My first novella The Evergreen Bride comes out this fall WITH Margaret, Mary and 9 other authors. TEB was a breeze to write. Set in my own MS backyard without the cast of thousands, plenty of opps for the hero and heroine to get together, AND they already knew each other when they book opened.

My second novella, This Land is Our Land, Homestead Brides, was a bit more difficult. Lots of children to keep up with, characters on the move, and close quarters.

But in both cases, I did as Margaret said, and kept the time frame short. Both stories take place in about a week to two week period.

Pam Hillman said...

Terri, I especially enjoy novella collections at Christmas. And Barbour's deluxe editions are so beautiful.

I bought Log Cabin Christmas for the cover alone. And then I could read a story every couple of days during the Christmas rush.

Pam Hillman said...

Oreo-creme-filled Chips Ahoy???

JANA! Give!

Ruthy, quick gratification? Hmmm, okay, you said in two words what it took me two paragraphs to explain.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Margaret and welcome to Seekerville today. I am writing my first novella and like you said, it is a new learning experience. I think I may need to take your advice and ditch chapter one. I do that with my regular novels too. LOL

I like the idea of novellas because of time crunches. So this will be fun.

Have a great day.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Kav, Great observation. I too have discovered new authors because they were in a collection with an author I knew and loved. I think many publishers use this as a marketing tool.

And Jane V. Oreo filling and chips ahoy??? oh my. There goes my diet.

Missy Tippens said...

Margaret, this is so helpful! Thank you! I'm going to write a novella in July (for a Seeker Christmas anthology!). And I'm tucking away this advice as I prepare to write.

We're glad you joined us again!

Missy Tippens said...

Jana V, that's so sweet about your mom! I remember my mom reading to us from our Children's Bible. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, thanks for those suggestions to study the novella format!

Chill N said...

The challenge I had was keeping the time short—and the romance long, if you know what I mean. I didn't want the relationship to feel rushed.

Margaret, any tips regarding how to keep the romance believable in a novella -- other than having the heroine and hero already know each other?

Very informative post. Thank you!

Nancy C

Vince said...


Sorry, regarding my earlier post: ‘nobrlls’ is not a Latin word. It should have been ‘novellas’. Also ‘ff’ is not some kind of tech talk but should have been ‘off’. My ride was beeping the horn outside early this morning as I was writing this post and I posted it without a preview. Not the best idea.

BTW: I just finished “The Old Blue Line” a novella by J. A. Jance, a great mystery writer and my wife’s favorite author, and it is only the author’s second attempt at a novella. It was okay but in the short format, it is not Jance. I think it might be possible that in the short format some authors cannot be themselves. Perhaps their voice cannot be heard as it should be in the small room of the novella. It seems that all the many little things that makes Jance, Jance could not find room in the novella. (I've read over 30 of her books so I have a good feel for her work.)

I’m waiting to see what Julie Lessman can do with the novella. With her great skill at handling a huge cast of characters, like a juggler keeping twelve balls in the air at the same time, I just wonder if I’d be as thrilled to see Julie just juggle three balls.

Well, this idea is at least a different POV on the novella.

They say it took TV thirty years to figure out it was not ‘radio with a picture’ but something entirely different. Only then could TV find itself and exploit its full potential. Much remains to be discovered about the novella format. Margaret’s post is an important step in that direction.

Myra Johnson said...

Margaret, what timely advice--thanks for sharing with us today!

I'm working on a novella right now, and it's every bit as challenging as you describe. I already suspect I'll need to ditch the first few scenes, which place the hero and heroine in their respective "ordinary lives" that are about to change dramatically.

I'm also getting lots of practice in smooth time jumps, summarizing the interim (and not so important) action so we can get to the good stuff.

The plus side is watching the little progress bar in Scrivener advance so quickly. The negative is realizing how much story I still need to tell and not a lot of room left to get it all in!!!

Carla Olson Gade said...

I just finished And Then Came Spring yesterday (which made me laugh and cry) so I'm excited to see your post today (especially since I'm writing a novella now and needed a little refresher - one reason why I picked up your story at this time). I appreciate your advice as I need constant reminders to help pace my story.

Crystal Ridgway said...

I read novellas occasionally, but they are far from my favorite because they're so SHORT! I like to spend more time with the characters before bidding them farewell. On a different note, my daughter and I have written a novella together although it was mostly her work. It ended up semi-finaling in the Genesis, but didn't make it to the finals. Ah, well. The First Impressions is coming up, and I'll be entering at least eleven, including that one.

Would love to be entered in the giveaway, Margaret!!

Meghan Carver said...

I love novellas and am thrilled they're making a comeback. I can see the difficulty in getting just the right plot for the word count. Thanks for the tips, Margaret.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Omygosh, I dreamed last night that my publisher announced that I was writing two novellas based on previous characters, and one was a Christmas story! I was panicking, thinking, But I don't have time to write a novella before Christmas! LOL!!! But if that really happened, I'd come back here to re-read your expert advice, Margaret! ;-) I've never written a novella, but I think it could be fun.

Elaine Manders said...

Hi Margaret,

You're one of my favorite authors and can't get enough of those western anthologies. Please keep writing them.

In fact I got to liking yours and Mary's and the others' so much I wrote my first novella this past Christmas. I think I'd assimilated the formula from reading. As you suggest, it jumps right into the plot. The h/h are engaged, but she has a dark secret. An old premise but with a different twist. There are only 5 characters in the whole thing. Strange thing is, I love these characters as much as those in my longer wips.

Please put me in the drawing. 4 Weddings is one of the few I don't already have.

Helen Gray said...

I'm another who likes novellas because I like being able to read a story in one sitting. Can't remember a favorite, though.

I've written one.

Heidi Robbins said...

I love reading well-written novellas! You described perfectly what makes a novella successful. My favorite collection is A Match Made in Texas :) Thanks for the giveaway!!!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Margaret,

Great tips for writing novellas!

I don't often read novellas - only if it's an author I love, then I'll read it. The disappointing thing for me is the length. The longer the better for my favorites!

But I do agree it's a good way to be introduced to a new author you may not have picked up alone!


DebH said...

Novellas are the bane of my budget, especially since I cannot seem to pass on them. In other words, I LOVE THEM!

I think I'm better suited to writing novellas, because I always struggle to get a longer word count. Can't seem to connect with my inner Julie Lessman *heavy sigh*
This post is a keeper for when I work on my next novella.

would love a shot at winning Four Weddings and a Kiss

DebH said...

forgot to say why I love novellas... usually because they help me find new authors for future reads (or not reads as well).

Sherida Stewart said...

Thank you, Margaret! I'm finding I like reading novellas, but writing them is harder than I expected. Your ideas will be very helpful....especially this thought "I also found that the sooner the narrative question can be worked into the story the better. This creates tension and keeps the reader interested." I need to cut out some of the characters and sub-plots in my novella-in-progress. You really helped my focus today!

I like to read novellas because it's a quick way to read new-to-me authors, such as Hallee Briegeman with Christmas Diamond and Susan Gee Heino with The Earl's Passionate Plot. Also reading about different sub-characters from a loved novel is great, such as Amber Stokes' Bellflower, Linda Winstead Jones' Firebird and Kira Brady's Hearts of Fire.

I'd love to win your book. Thank you!

K.E. Skedgell said...

I'm working on what I plan to be a Gothic romance novella, that's if I can keep it in bounds. I tend to be wordy. I've been writing some flash fiction which I hope will condition me to write shorter for this novella. I'm already at about 20k words. Who knows, it might end up a shorter novel by the time I'm done. So far it is more dialogue heavy than the novel I wrote and a bit lax on the descriptions. Still in the first draft stage so much can happen by the time I'll actually be done with it, whenever that'll be. I'm a painfully slow writer.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I'm curious, Margaret. You four have done several group novella's now. Do you review your plots to be sure you aren't writing too similar a plot line?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Looks like Margaret has been delayed. When that happens we bring out the secret stash of chocolate chip cookies and chocolate dipped macaroons.

Pass the goodies please.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome to Seekerville, KE! Wow, already at 20K. You might have already outgrown a novella lol.

Vince said...

Hi Margaret:

I’ve been thinking about how to make the ‘romance long’ in the short format as well as in suspense romances for many years. By a ‘long romance’ I take it to mean that the step-by-step, gradual, falling in love process is satisfyingly credible. (The romance is not shortchanged). This can be done rather quickly if the typical conflict situation is reversed.

In many of today’s traditional romances the romantic conflict is internal. The hero or heroine or both have reasons not to fall in love, reasons not to marry someone in a dangerous profession, reasons not to allow themselves to be hurt by love for a second time.

This internal theme is exemplified in “The Lawman’s Second Chance”, where the hero had a wife die of breast cancer while the heroine actually has breast cancer. Worse yet, the heroine’s husband divorced her because he could not take her condition and all the medical treatments she had to undergo. This story has great internal conflict. It takes a long time to overcome these issues. It is indeed a ‘long romance’. (If this conflict were a curve ball, even Derek Jeter couldn’t hit it. :))

However, consider what happens when the conflict is external. The hero and heroine meet and discover, rather quickly, that they are soul mates, that they are perfect for each other, that after thinking they would never find true love, they find it has just dropped into their laps! Wonderful except now someone is trying to kill the hero, heroine, or both. Perhaps there are external reasons why they could never marry. (A wife in the attic, perhaps?)

Think of ”Romeo and Juliette”. It did not take them long to fall in love but the external conflict was enough to support the plot.

My theory: for short format or suspense, use external conflict with internal harmony; for long format, use internal and/or external conflict.

Of course, the writer could also have the hero and heroine pick up after being lovers in the past but that theme is rather shopworn.

Vince said...

Thanks Tina!

I actually do have a secret stash of chocolate chip cookies, the chewy kind, that I forgot all about. Now, I just have to find where in the office I hid them.

Anne Payne said...

While I enjoy novels the most, I have read my fair share of novellas. Contemporary ones are my favorites, especially the collection from Ronis Kendig and Kimberly Woodhouse, Denali Dreams. It was set in Alaska and so exciting!

I look forward to reading your novella, Margaret. I love all your stories!

Tina Radcliffe said...

LOL, Vince.

I wish I had a secret stash of anything chocolate right now.

Tina Radcliffe said...

And when are we going to see Vince Mooney publications available on Amazon??

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I just finished writing two novellas, one at 25K for Zondervan and one at 20K for a Barbour collection... both will be released winter of 2015.

The contemp for Zondervan was able to embrace so many fast-paced aspects of the bridal industry, an industry I worked in for 8 wonderful years... The historical was set in Connealy-territory, 1868, and the romance of a good SODDY isn't lost on me, LOL!

I loved doing them. Vince, I love Red Kettle Christmas... did I ever mention that it was under consideration for a Hallmark Channel movie by an Emmy-award winning producer but didn't make the final cut... but what an honor to be in the running, right?

I think some of my favorite stories are short from Ray Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day" to Kathering Paterson's "The Great Gilly Hopkins" (which is now being made into a Major Motion Picture with Kathy Bates as "Trotter"... HOW AWESOME is that????

I think Nicholas Sparks two best works "The Notebook" and "A Walk to Remember" are great because he limited his verbiage. Short and sweet and moving right along, they grabbed heart and soul.

Now I do like writing both long and short, LOL! But I love feeling like I've grown skilled at both, and Love Inspired is the GREATEST TEACHER OF THIS PREMISE ever.

To curve a full book in 60K without the leniency of outside pov's is a trick-and-a-half because it's at that half-way to big and far from short gray area. But that's been the best education for me to date!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I have cookies. I will share.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Weighing in with my two cents to say I really don't care for novellas all that much. Yes, I know half of you have written novellas. Feel free to cyber throw something at me. If I have a choice between a novel and a novella, I go for a novel every single time. I don't much care about whether I can read it in one sitting. I want a good story, and novellas, by and large, are too short to be good. I don't feel like I have enough time with the characters to care about them first as people, and then about their love story. But that's just me. I'm an oddball, I know.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yes. Naomi is an oddball. But those who like novellas also like short stories. My husband hates them for the same reason you stated. I like them because I have a sense of completion and not failure..I FINISHED READING SOMETHING.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I caught the novella bug when I got the call that someone was unable to fulfill a contract for Summerside and would I be willing to step into their place????


Like when Tiki Barber was playing back-up and the first string player got hurt and he was called into the game... he came into the game ready to play because he'd spent his time preparing.

So when the call came, I said "Yes." (I may have SCREECHED yes, that's probably more accurate...

And that has led to numerous new contracts for novellas and inspired us to launch our first Seeker collections for Christmas this year....

I'm knee deep in mine and LOVING IT... I love it so much I keep thinking this should be a book, Ruthy.... and that's how I know it's a good novella, because it should have a book-feel in two-step time.

Our theme of Hope for the Holidays will run through the novellas and folks can kick back, put their feet by the fire and enjoy a quick read... Because we love youse that much!

Jennifer Smith said...

I just finished "Four Kisses and a Wedding" yesterday. Loved it! I especially loved "Courting Trouble" (just so you know)! I thought each of the four authors did an excellent job of writing a strong novella and keeping the romances believable.

Even though I already read this book, I wouldn't mind winning another copy to share with my blog readers. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Chance favors the prepared mind.

Louis Pasteur

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Margaret! You're in a novella collection of fabulous authors! Can't wait to read all four stories.

Excellent points on how to write a novella.

I've written a novella for Love Inspired Historical and loved doing it. The best part, I had secondary characters from a previous novel begging for their own story and they became my hero and heroine. I already knew what they and the setting looked like.


Margaret Brownley said...

Sorry, I'm so late checking in. First I just want to thank you all for the great welcome.

Thank you for letting me visit today. This is one of my favorite sites!

So many of you like novellas. It seems to be the trend.

Someone asked how to keep a romance from seeming rushed in a novella. That's something I think many of us struggle with.
There is such a thing as a courting dance. (If you doubt this, try chaperoning a teen dance). Miss one of those courting steps and the romance will seem rushed.

I should do a blog on the courting dance.

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

“Red Kettle Christmas” is so good I’m going to tell you what my movie knowledgeable uncle would have told you, “It wasn’t the merit of your story. “Red Kettle Christmas” was just the most expensive story to film.” New York City complete with a Thanksgiving’s Day parade in the 1940’s – can you think of a more expensive production? I bet the winner is set in the country, in the 1930’s, where all they need is a few horses, an old car or truck, and a farm house built back then. (Of which there are thousands.) I bet everyone loved your story the best until the producer read it.

Now Helen Gray has the stories a produced could fall in love with at first sight.

Think low budget when it comes to scripts. : )

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

The printer just delivered my big, beautiful, 55,000 word “Broker in Charge” book! Also my “Real Estate Laws” and “Understanding Oklahoma Brokerage Law” books. (About 20,000 words each – kind of nonfiction novellas.)

As for Kindle, as soon as the Governor signs the new real estate rules (moved from 1 July to 27 July), I’m sending my books to the line editor to get them as error free as possible for Kindle Direct. I already have beautiful cover art for everything. I hope to start work again on the REWARDS book tonight. This is the final edit before it goes to the editor. So things are happening now.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

VINCE!!!!! I'm so proud of your continued work and efforts on all of these books, the fiction and the non-fiction. Dude, that rocks!!!!

Seriously, you have spent the last 8 months or so with your nose to the grindstone, sweating bullets and pushing through to the end several times.

I'm raising my Diet Snapple on your behalf, my friend!!! GO VINCE!!!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Vince! Way to go!!!

Writers write. Everyone else just makes excuses.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I am agreeing with Tina on this wholeheartedly... Even when we need time off for those unexpected moments of adversity...

Writers write.

Love you, Vince!!!!

Becke said...

Thank you for the key points to create a Novella. I've written a short category- 55k. However, I've never attempted a romance novella.

In younger years I read Bradbury and Maupassant. Of course a few "had-tos" in HS or college courses.
I've read a few romance novellas in recent months because they seem to be prevalent.

I prefer a little more meat in my story. That said however, I like any well written story regardless of genre or length.

I agree: it's all about the characters. If I care, I'll turn the pages.

Jenny Blake said...

I love Novellas and I love your one in this book, Actually love the whole book all feisty heroines.
They are great when you are struggling to read much (Like me!) cos of the headaches and exhaustion I feel Novella's are so much easier for me to read.
I have to admit the ones I like the best are the ones in a collection like this one where the stories are linked in a way.
Don't enter me I have the book.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Yes, me, the oddball. Most recently, I enjoyed Love by the Letter--Melissa's novella. But then, I read it after reading the first novel in the series, so I already felt like I knew most of the characters. In fact, I'd have to say that of all the novellas I've read, I tend to like the ones that are part of a series. Then the stories don't feel too rushed.

And Christmas Angel was great, Tina. Really, truly. The main characters felt deep and I totally loved all the secondary characters. So I suppose it can be done. I think doing a standalone historical novella would be the hardest type to write. Too hard to get all the historical aspects plus a love story plus characters that are deep enough to care about. Ack! My head is spinning just thinking of it.

Tina Radcliffe said...

LOL. Naomi, you know I am harassing you because I can. Yes, I love Melissa Jagears novella!

For those of us who write short, novellas are such a GO CARD. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Naomi, I wonder about that.

Red Kettle Christmas was 40K so LONG for a novella.

Prairie Promises is 20K, so short. Both historical and very different parts of history, but I honestly didn't find them any more difficult to write (the research to nail the setting was longer, though) because I think empathetic characters sing their song regardless of length. I used to love the 5-6 page fiction stories in Redbook Magazine back in the day. Strong writers and great emotion and they were probably 7-10K...

So maybe it's a preference thing, and maybe it's a "How do I start this" thing. But sure, if you don't like them, it would be hard to write them and make them feel natural to the reader.

Your writing style delves into emotion, so you could be right. It might just not be the thing for you.

Which means more contracts for me.

(sneaky smile!!!! WAIT!!!! :) DID I SAY THAT OUT LOUD??????)


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Tina said "Go card"....



Wilani Wahl said...

I love reading both Novellas and novels. One of the most memorable novellas was Melissa Jagear's Love by the Letter. I loved it and also loved the novel and can't wait to read book 2.

I am really wanting to read this collection of novellas

Loves To Read said...

I really love Christmas novellas. Christmas is such a busy time of year and novellas are a perfect fit. Last year I really enjoyed "Mistletoe Magic" by Terri Weldon (such fun characters!) and "A Wreath of Snow" by Liz Curtis Higgs (a great message). I'll probably reread both this year. And I can't wait to read the seeker collection this year.

Boos Mum said...

I enjoy novellas. I just read the new one Sincerely Yours with Laurie Alice Eakes, Amanda Cabot, Anne Shorey, and Jane Kirkpatrick. I have enjoyed many of the older Heart Quest ones.

Tanya Agler said...

Thank you for the post, Margaret.

While I have quite a few free novellas on my Kindle, I tend to read full length novels more than novellas. I did recently read a novella while flying with my daughter to PA. I did enjoy the shorter length for that specific purpose. I'll be flying again next month and may read more novellas on the flight.

Thanks so much.

Lyndee H said...

HI Margaret,
Sorry to stop by so late, but I enjoyed your post. I would like to write short. Maybe I will work on that concept next! Thanks for the tips.

Valri said...

I love novellas! I don't have a favorite though as I enjoy them all for different reasons! I really enjoyed the ones that are set in Texas and involve cowboys though! They are fun! Novellas are fun because you can read them fast for some reason! I love the novellas you gals write! I'd love to win this one!

Valri said...

I love novellas! I don't have a favorite though as I enjoy them all for different reasons! I really enjoyed the ones that are set in Texas and involve cowboys though! They are fun! Novellas are fun because you can read them fast for some reason! I love the novellas you gals write! I'd love to win this one!

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Perfect timing for this post, Margaret. I'm working on a novella, so this is very helpful. :)

Btw, I just finished reading "A Vision of Lucy" and absolutely loved it. :)

Mary Preston said...

I don't read a lot of novellas. I'm more the longer the better kind of reader.

Margaret Brownley said...

Wow, you guys kept me up late reading all the comments. Love it!

Edwina said...

I must admit - I'm not much of a novella fan.
I like the long books- and if it's a series - even better.
But with my schedule these days, a novella would fit right in!

Laura Aulenbacher said...

Good morning all,
Regarding novellas, I tend to side with Naomi. I prefer longer novels because I feel like I am just getting started with a novella and it's over. On the writing side, I probably need to learn to write one and they are good intros for bringing in readers to e-books. And they are great for giveaways also, as long as they are as much your best work as any writing you do. Hi folks! My name is Laura and I am new to the community. I am here to learn and share. I write Speculation Christian Fiction---in other words, Christian Fantasy. Hopefully, I will have a cross book between JRR Tolkien's and CS Lewis' books one day. I am working on the Lampstand, Book One of Seven at present. Just wanted to introduce myself and say, "HI". Most days I am a school teacher, but writing is my bigger love.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Laura!!!

Great to have you here.

Pam said...

I do like some novellas. I generally like to read those that have several authors whose work I already know and like. Novellas are a great way to get a feel for a new author. Most of the novellas I've read have been historical romance. I wouldn't read novellas exclusively but they are especially nice for busy times of year (like before Christmas)when I don't have as much time to read a longer book.
I love your full length novels, Margaret, so would like to read this novella. Mary is another one of my favorite authors. Both of you in one book=fantastic!