Friday, July 8, 2016

BEST OF THE ARCHIVES: PLOT STRUCTURE OF A NOVELLA

To celebrate our latest and new Seeker novella written by Cara Lynn James, Myra Johnson and (drum roll please)  myself, Sandra Leesmith, I'm bringing up in the archives 
PLOT STRUCTURE OF A NOVELLA.  

We are so excited about our new novella,  LOVE FINDS A WAY.  It is loaded with summer romance and outdoor adventure. 


Seekers are also having Christmas in July.  Our Christmas Novellas are on sale.  Yippee!!!  In this 2014 post, I talked about the structure of a novella.  A HEART FULL OF HOPE that is in our first Christmas Anthology, HOPE FOR THE HOLIDAYS.





This post first appeared in Seekerville in June 2014: Comments are closed on Fridays to allow more writing and reading time.

Good morning. Sandra here, with her yummy Chocolate Velvet coffee. I also brewed some Dunkin' Donuts Chocolate Glaze coffee. It has been getting difficult to find my coffee so I've been trying others.

from dundkindonuts.com

While there, I ordered some donuts and muffins so help yourself.

from dunkindonuts.com

 Margaret Brownley brought up some great points about novella writing in her article The Long and Short of Writing Novellas.

All of us Seekers are paying attention because we are going to be publishing Christmas novellas written by --guess who? The Seekers.  Isn't that exciting?  We are planning a contemporary novella and a historical novella.  So if you're writing a Christmas list already, here's something to add on. Our working theme for both contemporary and historical is Hope For The Holidays.

Several of the Seekers have already written novellas, but I'm like Margaret. I overwrite everything and normally have to delete much of what I write. So writing my first novella has been a challenge.

I went to Desert Dreams conference in Tempe last spring and Dessert Rose author, Calista Fox (who writes sizzling hot novellas) presented some great tips on structuring a novella.

Here is the breakdown of her handout.  (presented with Calista's permission)

Chapters 1-2  

Set Up: Character(s) plot and romantic elements introduced
Action and conflict underway.

Chapters 3-5

Conflict, tension and romance further developed

Chapters 6-7

Build-up to crisis
Plot and romance heats up; conflict and tension are about to peak

Chapter 8

Crisis/black moment

Chapter 9

Climax/falling action

Chapter 10

Resolution to plot
Happy ever after for hero and heroine.  :)


This outline helped a lot to give me a sense of the pacing. There is nothing new here. But having the chapter breakdown gives you a good idea of where the plot points should be falling in a shorter novella.

Janet Dean presented us with tips her editor, Tina James sent her when she wrote her novella for Love Inspired Historicals Brides of the West.   In this article, Tips for Writing a Novella,  she also lists tips from other authors. One of the authors, Victoria Bylin, suggested using secondary characters from one of your novels. This helps give you a deeper character without having to develop so much in the novella.




That is exactly what I am doing in my novella  A HEART FULL OF HOPE in the Christmas anthology of HOPE FOR THE HOLIDAYS. I am taking the character, Stephen, who was Monica's former fiancé in Love's Promises.



Stephen is still in Spain so I was able to use information from my trip in Spain for the setting. It is advisable to keep the same setting because description of setting takes up a lot of space. So much of my novella will be set on the gorgeous beaches of Matalascanas which is southwest of Seville along the Atlantic coast.

They will be using the royal hunting lodge found in the national park there. (Parque Nacional de Donana)


Royal hunting lodge in Parque Nacional de Donana

Another piece of advice I gleaned is to keep the secondary characters to a minimum and also to use only one POV. Now that is really difficult for me because I always mix the male hero POV in with the heroine's POV.  So just limiting my story to the heroine's POV has been a challenge for me. But with my plot and black moment (yes, novellas need those also) I find that one POV makes it really work.

In March 2013, Gina Welborn wrote a post for Seekerville titled: A Novel Approach to Novellas. She was writing her first novella and asked her friend Linda Goodnight for advice. In this post, Linda gives several great tips for keeping the novella succinct and tight. Pop over to that article to see what tips she gives us.

Gina has written several novellas since including her Christmas novella  called All Ye Faithful in the book of novellas called A Cascades Christmas.




 Are you ready to write a novella now? I hope these tips gleaned from my experience and other friends of Seekerville will help you.


Happy writing.

Happy reading.




Sandra Leesmith writes sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She lives in Arizona with her husband and during the hot summers she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motor home where she enjoys the outdoors and finds wonderful ideas for her next writing project. You can find Sandra's books here on Amazon. Two of Sandra's most popular books are also audio books at Audible.  Love's Promises will be available on audio in April.

You can read more posts by Sandra here.