Monday, July 25, 2016

Writing Tight: How to Make Every Word Count

with guest Amanda Barratt.

Hey there, Seekerville! I’m sooo happy to be hanging out with y’all today and chatting about a topic near and dear to my heart—novellas and how to write them brilliantly.  

Novellas are like the new girl in high school who is crowned Homecoming Queen three years after moving to town. When I first entered the writing world, they were being published, people read them, but they didn’t have the popularity or the…shall, I say, sparkle, that they do today. Back then, I rarely read them. Today, I cannot help but read them. So many talented authors have jumped on the novella bandwagon, and you might be considering becoming one of them.

But to write a novella, a stand-out, sigh-worthy, stay-up-till-one a.m. flipping pages, kind of story takes an entirely different skill set than penning a masterfully written 100’000 word epic. 

And that’s where tight writing comes in.

So without further delay, here are five points to help you trim your prose and make every word do double duty.

1- You’re Writing a Movie, Not a Miniseries—First of all, I looove a good miniseries. There’s nothing I’d rather do than spend six hours viewing Pride and Prejudice or four watching North and South. I adore the winding plotlines and drawn-out conversations. But that’s not what we’re after in novellas. I like to think of a novella as the 90-minute flick you’ll watch when you want drama/romance/comedy in a hurry. The opening credits barely have time to roll before the story gets going. Right away, we’re introduced to our main character. Instantly, the music, scenery, and dialogue tell us what kind of film this is. No Shakespearian monologues allowed!



2- Pack a Punch With Powerful Description—This is a must for evoking emotion in the reader. As a novelist, you have the luxury of describing…and describing again. But in a novella, it’s once, and that once had better be good. Here’s an example from my novella, A Bride for a Bargain (part of The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection).

Merciful heavens, this thing was a palace! Ada stared. And kept on staring. Did the rich actually think themselves too good for ordinary trains? Obviously. Grander than the interior of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the railcar’s front room was a vision of wood-paneled luxury. Thick velvet drapes blocked most of the light, save what a silk-shaded lamp provided. Plush carpets rustled against her feet, and decorative pillows cluttered a brocaded sofa. It even smelled good. Like scented candles and lemon oil. 
 She drew in a long, delighted breath.

Using words that instantly paint a picture in the reader’s mind (vision of wood-paneled luxury) and actions that add to the scene (plush carpets rustled against her feet) takes the reader and…bam, places them right in the midst of what the character is experiencing.


3- Minimalize Backstory—Plain and simple, we don’t need to know everything about the character. Of course, you, as the author should know the character’s backstory. But if it’s not important to the story or the hero’s development, leave it out. Since most novellas are genre fiction (romance, suspense, etc.) the focus needs to be on the elements of the story that tie into the genre—will the hero and heroine find love, will the criminal be caught? 


4- The Heroine Doesn’t Need a Second Cousin Once Removed (Keeping Your Cast Small)—This ties into the point above. A huge cast is unnecessary and wastes words needed elsewhere. Obviously, you don’t want to go to the other extreme and use only three people total, but keep in mind, the more characters you introduce, the more you need to follow through with. For my romance novellas, I usually have a cast of about eight to ten characters—including those who only have walk-on roles. 



5- Use the Same Studs You Built Your Mansion With to Construct Your Cabin— While I love novellas, I have read quite a few I thought were lackluster and just…blah. When I examined the “why” behind my dislike, I discovered it was primarily due to the plot. There was no defined beginning, middle, and end. I’m a big fan of the three act structure and of infusing each story with certain turning points--the Black Moment, Epiphany, etc. In the novellas I disliked, any semblance of these was woefully lacking. Sometimes, I was absolutely astonished that the hero and heroine were taking their relationship to the next level. They’d barely spent any time together, for goodness sake! All this to say, a novella is a different sort of fiction, but should be constructed using the same building blocks and outlining system as a full-length novel.

Hopefully, these points provide a “nuts and bolts” approach to writing a novella that will keep readers flipping pages and staying up until the wee hours. Then lining up in droves to buy your next story and many more after that.


Do you struggle to “write tight”? Have you written a novella, and if so, did you enjoy it? 

GIVEAWAY—I’m giving away a copy of The California Gold Rush Romance Collection (which includes my novella “The Price of Love”) to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition! 


Buy your copy here
Rush to California after the 1848 gold discovery alongside thousands of hopeful men and women. Meet news reporters, English gentry, miners, morticians, marriage brokers, bankers, fugitives, preachers, imposters, trail guides, map makers, cooks, missionaries, town builders, soiled doves, and more people who take advantage of the opportunities to make their fortunes in places where the population swelled overnight. But can faith and romance transform lives where gold is king?


Amanda Barratt

Amanda Barratt is the ECPA bestselling author of four novellas published by Barbour Publishing. She fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story - a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Since then, Amanda has penned novels set in Regency and Victorian England, and the Gilded Age. 

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, who kindly put up with the invisible people she calls characters.

These days, Amanda can be found reading way too many books, watching an eclectic mix of BBC dramas and romantic chick flicks, and trying to figure out a way to get on the first possible flight to England. 


You can connect with her at: amandabarratt.net and on Facebook at: Facebook.com/amandabarrattauthor

89 comments :

  1. Welcome back, Amanda!!

    Such good information, thank you.

    I've brought Maple bars for tonight and tomorrow, because they match the memes.

    Happy Monday, world!

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  2. Novellas are great little stories I do enjoy reading also! There have been a few, however, that were quite lackluster. I found myself asking what was that story about and why did I waste an hour of my time reading it, what WAS the point of it really? It reflects very badly on the author! Then I've read others that do pack a LOT in such a short story, I felt as if I were reading a full length novel. Amanda, I think every author who writes novella's would find your outline very useful & informative :-) I know I sure did as a reader!

    Thanks Tina for the maple bars, I think I might take one with a glass of milk and head to bed to read the novella collection I started two nights ago. Thankfully, this author knows how to write 'em :-)

    Amanda, please put my name in the gold diggers pan for a chance to win "The California Gold Rush Romance Collection". I do especially LOVE the Barbour publishing company novella sets!

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  3. Welcome, Amanda! Thanks for this terrific post. I've printed it for my Seeker notebook, it will be a great reference as I get ready to write my first novella. Being a woman of few words, I try to write tight.

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  4. Hi Amanda! I truly enjoyed your post and it is one for my Keeper Book. I tend to like saying more than is needed so this will help.

    I love novellas! Especially when I want something quick to read. Some of them I have truly loved, others left me wanting more.

    I would love to have my name tossed in for your giveaway. Thank you for your generosity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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  5. Amanda!!! Welcome back to Seekerville, and congratulations on your successes. It delights me to see your name breaking into this wonderful business. Go you!!!

    I had to learn to write tight for Love Inspired. And honestly, Melissa Endlich was and is a marvelous teacher of "Keep it to the romance, Ruthy" when I tend to wander... So when I began writing novellas, I had to teach myself the quicker-climbing arc and the finish... but I love it. I love writing them, I love arching up quickly (like you would in a short story) and then having fun with the story line... and then the quick roller-coaster slide back to the ground and happy ending.

    Your points here are so well taken, I have nothing to add! (Imagine that????)

    COFFEE IS HERE!!!!

    And I'm bringing peach pie tomorrow so for today it's a pancake breakfast with all the trimmings!

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  6. Tina.

    Maple bars.

    How did I miss that? I'm putting away my pancakes.

    I fell in love with Maple Bars at the Cle Elum Bakery in Central Washington, so much that they got shout outs in the Double S Ranch series.... OH MY STARS, I am in love with maple bars.

    Mmmmmmmmm.............

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  7. Hi, Amanda! (and everybody!)
    I love these great tips--and since I, like Ruthy, have a tendency to wander a bit in my writing--I definitely need them! Printing this out to save!

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  8. Laurel! Great to see you in Seekerville and love your profile picture. Pass the tea!

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  9. Jill's writing a novella?? Tell us all about it!~~

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  10. Yep. Nothing beats a good maple bar. Except peach pie from Ruthy or Patti Jo's Cafe and Bakery.

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  11. Thanks so much for sharing today. I needed these tips to make my novella better. This is definitely a keeper post.

    Thanks again!

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  12. Good morning, AMANDA! And thank you for the novella writing tips. Novellas seem to be everywhere right now--maybe because they are a quick read in our increasingly busy world?

    I hope you can figure out how to hop that jet to England in the near future! It's truly a wonderful experience, one that I'll never forget. Having been raised on English classics and history and modern day English writers, I felt right at home. :)

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  13. Hey gang! Hi Amanda! The coffee is sooooo good. I really needed it. :)

    So Amanda I have to ask - are you talking by chance about North and South as in Elizabeth Gaskell's North & South mini-series? If so, have you seen Wives and Daughters? It's as good - actually it ranks a little higher that N&S - If that's possible. ;)

    I enjoyed your likening novellas to movies. I could completely relate! I think in movie scripts. I've often wondered if I should just be writing them instead. But when I found out about novellas, their format sparkled at me. :) Thinking of a short story as if it were a grand movie I'm telling a friend about is something I shall mull over this week. I really like books that hit the ground running as well.

    Even with minimizing the backstory contained in the shorter book, do you find that you still research your character to the same extent?


    Casting! I am amazed when I watch an epic movie and find that when the credits roll there are only a handful of characters, half of which don't have last names. I can see that limiting the cast would help tighten up the story and allow for more focus on the standard building blocks.

    Thank you for taking the time to write the article. It - and the coffee - were really good.


    I'm going to go count my cast of characters now...have a great Monday gang! :D Blessings, Meg


    P.S. Please skip over me for the drawing. I'm going to see if my library has it. :)

    P.S. Amanda - when you do get that flight to England - be sure to take lots and lots of pictures!!


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  14. North and South is far better than Wives and Daughters in my humble opinion.

    Oh that movie makes me sigh just thinking about it.

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  15. I'm sure writing a novella is a challenge, having a small word count. Thank you for this information.

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  16. Great tips, Amanda--thanks for joining us again today! I credit everything I learned about "writing tight" to my early days writing short stories for children's magazines. When I broke into novel writing, it felt so freeing--all this room to write really, really long and wordy stories and throw in all the stuff I always had to cut from 800-1,000-word magazine pieces!

    Except I quickly learned that even longer stories require tight writing. Being selective about details, avoiding rabbit trails, skipping irrelevant backstory and description, nixing unnecessary adverbs and adjectives.

    So the fact is, whatever the word count you're aiming for, you can almost always improve the story (and your reader's enjoyment) with tight writing.

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  17. AMANDA, I enjoyed your post! As a reader, I appreciate author's who strive for excellence in their craft.

    Please put me in for the drawing of The California Gold Rush Romance Collection.

    Have a MARVELOUS Monday!

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  18. Welcome Amanda.I am printing off this post so I can refer to it often. I haven't tried a novella yet.

    I hope everyone will have a great week.

    I am looking forward to reading this collection of Novelas

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  19. Good morning, Tina—and everyone else! Thanks SO much for having me today!!!

    Great comments, Trixi! Like you, I’ve read some stellar novellas…and then ones that were kind of blah. But Barbour does an amazing job at choosing fabulous authors and I love most of theirs!!

    Hi, Jill! Glad the post was helpful!

    Novellas are totally a “read in one sitting” experience, Cindy! Which is great when I’m pressed for time.

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Ruthy!!! Your novellas are amazing, by the way! I too can “wander” sometimes, but try to keep things short and sweet in my novellas.

    Glad you enjoyed the post, Laurel!

    Hi, Glynna!!! I was raised on English classics too…a truly delightful experience!

    YES, Megs! I am talking about Gaskell’s North and South…one of my very favorite viewing experiences! LOVE Wives and Daughters too. Have fun counting your characters!

    Short stories are quite similar to novellas, Myra. Honestly, I haven’t written nearly as many novels over the past couple of years…so when I get back at it, I’ll probably want to go a little “word crazy.”

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Caryl!!!

    So glad you found the post helpful, Wilani!

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  20. Terrific post! I will admit, I didn't read my first novella until the With This Ring book collection this summer. My life had become so incredibly busy and overwhelming that I didn't have time to read (or write). I just had to read something or I was going to have a mental breakdown. After that set came to my rescue, I have picked up more to have on hand when life beats me down again.

    I agree that I expect a three act structure with the novellas. Aren't they essentially mini-stories, after all? Even as a writer of novel length stories, I think it is important to keep focused on tight writing, so while I am not yet bold enough to tackle the novella, your principles are easy to apply. I have set this article aside for my one day writing. Thanks!

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  21. Welcome back to Seekerville, Amanda! So excited to be part of The Gold Rush Romance Collection with you and all the other fabulous authors. :)

    Love the way you nailed some good points of writing novellas. I wrote 4 novellas in 8 months, one due every two months. Love writing those, and once I get in the groove, I figured out my pace and it seemed easier. Okay, some were easier than than others.

    Some had more characters than others, some less, depending on the context. But, as you say, I keep my named characters to 6-8, maybe 10, in novella collections.

    Probably the least amount of characters I've ever written so far was Castaway with the Cowboy (With this Spark Collection). There were six characters stranded on an island. Well, seven if you count the children's father and the seaman on the ship as it was going down.... and then there was the dead sailor found on on the beach. And the pirates.

    Oh, forget I said anything ... there were at least 30 characters in that novella. lol

    But, at least I didn't NAME them all. :)

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  22. AMANDA, welcome back to Seekerville. Congrats on the publication of four novellas!
    Thanks for the terrific tips on writing a novella! All were important. I've only had two novellas published. The point you made that I feel is vital is to ensure the story has a plot arc with beginning, middle and end.

    Can you tell us more about The Price of Love?

    Janet

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  23. I tend to choose novellas with a mix of authors I know and authors I don't because I think it's a great way to be introduced to new-to-me authors. However, I have to admit to being a tad overwhelmed by the sheer number of novella collections flooding the market. Impossible for a reader to keep up. And I do love full-length novels the best. Looking over your list I think it might be because of that lack of backstory. I can see why you'd have to leave it out, but I don't always feel as connected to the characters as I do when reading a full length novel.

    I'm in awe of the authors who can deliver an impactful story in a novella length. That's talent! And super in awe of historical novella writers who manage to create the ambiance of their era in such a short word count.

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  24. I agree with Kav. I like novellas as a great way to sample new authors!!

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  25. Amanda! What an insightful post! I love your novellas. :) You write such sigh-worthy heroes. :)

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  26. Shelli Littleton! Good to see you in Seekerville!

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  27. Hi, Crystal! I LOVE the authors in the With This Ring Collection…so much talent in one volume!

    Hey, Pam! Likewise on sharing a collection together! And I’ve actually had more characters than 6-8 in one of my novellas (wink). BTW, the stranded on the island novella sounds soo intriguing.

    Hi, Janet! The Price of Love is about two news reporters who join forces to help find the mother of an abandoned baby…and maybe fall in love at the same time.

    I totally agree, Kav, and am so grateful to Barbour for taking a chance on so many new, undiscovered authors.

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  28. Amanda, what are you working on now?

    We like to ask our guests if they are inherently pantsers or plotters.

    And are you a desktop writer or a wandering laptop / tablet writer? Or maybe a phone writer??

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  29. Right back at ya with the heroes, Erica! All of yours are swoony!

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  30. Hey, Tina! I’m working on editing my novella that releases in May as part of “The Secret Admirers Romance Collection.” It’s a Gilded Age, Upstairs/Downstairs romance with a hero similar to Branson on Downton Abbey. :)

    I’m probably a mix between pantsing and plotting. I always have to have some sort of outline!!

    And I write at my large monitor, ergonomic keyboard computer in my lovely loft office. :)

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  31. AMANDA!!! It is SO fun having you here, my friend, and I cannot wait to sit down and catch up over a cup of coffee at ACFW!

    Like you, I never liked nor read novellas before the novella craze hit the fan, so I had to learn to bite the bullet and figure out what all the excitement was about. I still don't read many novellas any more (you can take the words out of the book, but you can't take the book out of the girl), but when I do, I do enjoy a good one.

    You asked: Do you struggle to “write tight”? Have you written a novella, and if so, did you enjoy it?

    LOL ... does a verbose 500+page author "struggle" to write tight? Uh, yeah, BIG TIME!! But I learned the hard way when my publisher asked me to cut 50,000 words from my 170,000-word book and I actually did it!

    Of course that was AFTER I wrote my Marcy/Patrick prequel "novella," A Light in the Window, which ended up being 115,000 words. Sigh.

    Then the Seekers began putting out novellas and I thought to myself: Can a verbose 500+page author actually write a decent story in 25,000 words??? Since it was with the Seekers and not a publisher, I decided to give it a shot, and WOW!!!

    I discovered that I LOVE writing novellas (despite the fact that I had to cut almost 10,000 words from my Gilead-contracted novella. Sigh!). But it's been a great boot camp for me to write shorter and tighter books, so now I am thrilled about those little runt stories. ;)

    In fact, having written six of them now (one which will be a prequel novella to my Western trilogy), I was much better able to keep book 2 in my IOH series at a little over 100,000 words rather than the almost 155,000 words in book 1, which was my plan for the 2nd and 3rd books all along.

    Great post, Amanda -- you've learned a lot, my friend, so thanks for sharing the wealth!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  32. Amanda,

    Yes, I have joined the novella production line. I have published and two more contracted ones in progress. I like reading and writing them.

    Fresh coffee's here.

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  33. Amanda, what helpful tips for novella writing. :) I haven't braved trying to write one yet. Your suggestions make perfect sense though. You have to keep tight into the main storyline

    Thanks for the idea on how many characters to have in a novella. I know it's not written in stone, but having an idea helps me wrap my head around writing a novella. One day. :)

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  34. Hey, great post about novellas even if I don't particularity write them myself. I have written a few short stories to enter into competitions (mainly fairy tale retellings) but I don't really like having to write tight as you put it. If I'm going through all the trouble to make a realistic hero and heroine and a moving, interesting plot then I want their story to last a little longer than the span of a novella. And as for reading novellas, I have read a few novellas especially suspense ones, but again as I said before. If I am going to invest myself in the lives of the characters then I want it to be for a little longer than a short novella. Novellas always seem to be over too soon...

    But hey that's just my opinion for now, maybe when I have been a writer for a little while longer and everything isn't all new and shiny I'll start writing some novellas, and I'll be certain to read back over you post when that happens because you had some good tips in there. But as for now... I guess I'll just get back to writing my fourteen book series.

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  35. Hi Amanda Welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for all the helpful hints on writing a novella. They are always great to read.

    Myra and Cara and I have a summer novella out now. LOVE WILL FIND A WAY was really fun to write. But like you said, you really need to trim the fat in a novella. I'm so verbose, it makes it tough. LOL

    But I like reading novellas because I can finish in a short amount of time. Thanks again for joining us.

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  36. Great post, Amanda!
    All good points and note-worthy.

    I've come to enjoy novellas as I can easily read one just before turning out the light at night - giving myself some wind-down time.

    KEEP UP THE GREAT NOVELLA WRITING _ I TRULY enjoy your stories!

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  37. JULIE!!!!! SO good to have you here, my friend!!! In terms of “writing tight” I’m probably the opposite of you…I tend to have to add words, rather than cut them. Maybe we should collaborate on something, lol. And I can’t wait to see you at ACFW!!!

    Congratulations on the many contracts, Helen! Exciting!!

    They’re a ton of fun to write, Jeanne! You should definitely try one sometime!!

    Hi, Nicky! I think the trick of a good novella is to capture the reader’s attention at lightning-speed, and then hold it the entire story. Writing tight isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely a worthwhile exercise to try.

    Congrats on the novella collection, Myra! Looks like a fun one!!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Joy! Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks!


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  38. Fun post, Amanda. I have been enjoying reading the many novella collections the Seeker authors have written. I have read other novellas, though, in which there didn't seem to be much of a story, so I agree with you that some seem to lack a plot.

    I write short stories and have had to learn to tighten up, but I always write long to begin. I read a suggestion recently that if a writer removes one word from every sentence in the manuscript, it will be an easy way to reduce the word count. I'm sure that would be true for me!

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  39. Welcome, Amanda! I remember similar advice when I wrote my first short story: to be sure you have a beginning, middle and end. So I agree it's important to include all story parts in novellas!

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  40. Megs, thanks for the recommendation of Wives and Daughters! I'll look for that asap!

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  41. Kav, it is tougher to bond with characters in short formats. I love a rich backstory. But I do enjoy the quick read sometimes. :)

    As for writing them... For me, in writing romance novellas, I've found it's a little easier if my characters already know each other. I think that makes the quick romance more believable.

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  42. Great tips, Amanda! Thanks for sharing.

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  43. Hi, Sandy! You're one smmart reader to pick up novella collections written by the Seekers! They are some of the best talent in the biz!! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Missy! I love when novellas read as well as a full length book. Some authors totally neglect story structure, which goes to show that novella writing takes a different set of skills.

    Thank YOU, Amber!

    Hope you're all having a lovely afternoon! I finished lunch-which unfortunately - didn't include some of the maple nut bars. :(

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  44. Amber Schamel,

    Where have you been hiding? Great to see you in the Village. Happy Monday!

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  45. I hear you, Sandra!

    It must be pure torture for Julie and Ruthy to write a novella. Their grocery lists are novellas.

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  46. I'm a giant monitor girl too! In fact I am working on getting a second monitor. Makes editing so much easier.

    Your next release sounds wonderful!!!! Love that era!

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  47. Amanda, I remember meeting you at your first ACFW Conference. So proud of your success!

    You did a great job today with your tips on creating novellas! They are a different type of story, for sure. Short and sweet...or short and sassy...or short and suspenseful, but they need to carry a punch and satisfy the reader, which you explained so well.

    Thanks for being with us today.

    It's hot in Georgia. I've brought iced tea, sweet and unsweetened, and oatmeal raisin cookies for an afternoon snack. Enjoy!

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  48. Waving to Amber!!!!!

    Oh my gosh, I've had so much fun writing novellas, and my first one was by mistake, literally...

    Well, first one author stepped out of the contract with Summerside, and I got a call... could I step into the breach and write a contemporary?

    SURE!!! YES!!!!!

    Then call #2... Oops, it's a historical. Ruthy, can you do a historical?

    Yes, I said... (praying...) Of course I can!

    And that's how it began, "Red Kettle Christmas" was born and then was considered for a Hallmark movie... but didn't get the final nod, and that's okay. What an honor to be looked at??? I collaborated with Anna Schmidt on that one for Summerside, and now Anna is with me, Julie and Mary in Cowboy Homecoming Christmas from Gilead...

    AND WE HAD SO MUCH FUN!!!!

    And the Seeker novella collections, historical and contemporary... again, so fun, and a great way for readers to sample authors, like you guys said.

    We are blessed to be working/writing at this time. The doors are stretched wide open in multiple directions!

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  49. ☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺

    Thoughts
    on a
    Most Happy Novella!



    Write tight, write slight
    Don't cut, duck
    For the most, change approach
    Don't thin, distill...let flavor win
    Never tell, let whispers yell

    *************************

    The smallest miniature horse,
    Is still a horse.

    ***** Novel: 'the new thing'
    **** Novella: 'the new little thing'
    *** Novelette: 'the new littler thing'
    ** Novellina: 'the new even littler thing'
    * Novellinissima: 'the new littlest thing'

    Vince

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  50. Hi Amanda! Great tips for novella writing. I have two novellas simmering in a file in Scrivener that I pick at every once in a while when the full-length story I'm working on hits a creative dry well. I hope to turn them into a three-story collection loosely connected by the same setting. It's nice to not have to deal with all of the back story of your characters and just tell a story!

    Have a great day!

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  51. HI Amanda! Great post, thank you for the help. I struggle to write tight. I write like a talk, which is scary -- lots of extra unnecessary words, I'm sure. :) I didn't realize there are suspense novellas too.

    I'd love to be included in the giveaway :)

    Blessings!

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  52. Yes. Lynette Eason, Dee Henderson and Dani Pettrey have a romantic suspense novella collection out right now. And Debby Giusti and Margaret Daley did a collection for LIS too.

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  53. HA!! Vince,

    This must be an Italian novella: * Novellinissima: 'the new littlest thing'

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  54. Joy Avery Melville! Thrilled to have you in the Village today. Have a maple bar, dear.

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  55. One of these days I'd love to write a novella, but my mind goes blank when I try to think of something short to write. I think it's just a mental block.

    I'll be digging this post out if I ever do.

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  56. Tina, I have an opportunity to write a Christmas novella. I guess I better break out the Perry Como albums. :)

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  57. Wonderful, Jill. And I'll be first in line to buy it. What? No Alvin and the Chipmunks??

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  58. No Connie, you can't think of it like that. You just write it and then tighten it. Once you do that one time, you will be able to do it.

    Think Ruthy and Julie.

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  59. I am guessing you are going to ACFW this year, right Amanda? Going to the Christian Reader's Retreat as well?

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  60. I'm like you Stephanie,

    I always have more than one project on the burner. In different stages. Helps prevent brain fry.

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  61. Amanda, I love writing novellas for the reasons you mentioned. If you're a tight writer, it's a perfect genre.

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  62. 4- The Heroine Doesn’t Need a Second Cousin Once Removed I laughed out loud when I read this ... one time I started reading a much-praised book written by a famous historical novelist (who shall remain nameless). I had to keep a note pad nearby so I could keep track of all the characters. It wasn't long before I decided the 'read' just wasn't worth all that work :-)

    Super info that can easily apply to all writing. Thanks, Amanda!

    Nancy C

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  63. I'll have to give it a try Tina.

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  64. Great insights into what makes a successful novella! I absolutely love reading them when life gets busy since I can get a quick fix in, but it is disappointing when the writing falls a little short. I've come to appreciate a well-written novella and even though they are short, they can be just as memorable as my favorite novels. Looking forward to reading yours and the collection! Please include me in the giveaway.

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  65. Thank you, Amanda! I enjoy reading novellas, because I can usually find time to enjoy a complete HEA. Your points are good ones to consider since I'm plotting some novella ideas. Concentrating on powerful descriptions is my writing focus right now. Since I like rail travel, I loved your example of a luxurious railcar!

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  66. :) Connie!!! You and Rhonda should do a novella collection together!

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  67. Well said, Heidi.

    You are entered in the drawing!!

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  68. Sherida! Novella next for you?

    I had my first rail trip at RWA NYC, to and from Philly. Love it. Especially the quiet car.

    Amanda, have you ever trailed by rail?

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  69. I remember meeting you too, Debby! Fun times!!!

    What a great poem, Vince! You’re creative!

    Scrivener is awesome, Stephanie…or so I’ve heard. Never used it, but heard great things about it. Thanks for stopping by!!

    I think everyone uses unnecessary words in their first drafts, Sharee. The trick is to be aware of them and fix during edits. And consider yourself included in the giveaway!!

    I certainly hope you attempt a novella, Connie! My guess is you’re just waiting for the right surge of inspiration…for my very first novella I got mine by watching a rom com.

    Ooo, Perry Como! Sounds fun, Jill!!

    YES, I’m going to ACFW...but not to the reader’s retreat. I can’t wait to see you there!!!!!

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  70. You’re such a great writer, Cara, both in novels and novellas!

    Haha, Nancy C. Now I’m wondering what the book was!!

    I've come to appreciate a well-written novella and even though they are short, they can be just as memorable as my favorite novels. So true, Heidi!!!

    Thanks for the compliment on my railcar description, Sherida!! It was super fun to write!!

    Tina…I traveled on a train to Chicago-luxurious it was not! But it gave me great ideas for a third-class passenger scene.


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  71. Hi Amanda, I love a novella collection. Please put my name in the hat for the gold rush collection. Your advice is great. I noticed you said that some people get their break into publishing through novellas. Is that usually done with through an agent or is there another path?

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  72. Hi Amanda, I love a novella collection. Please put my name in the hat for the gold rush collection. Your advice is great. I noticed you said that some people get their break into publishing through novellas. Is that usually done with through an agent or is there another path?

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  73. Ruthy, I, too, have had a lot of fun writing novellas!

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  74. Wonderful post, AMANDA! Thank you so much for the great tips and suggestions!

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  75. Yes. A quiet car. No cell phone talking. For people working and reading and sleeping.

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  76. I love this post with the list. I'm thinking I'm better suited for novella writing and this will help a lot. I loved your description example too. Please put my name in the draw for your novella. I need to check out the collection. I love collections (especially the Seekerville ones).

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  77. TINA SAID: "It must be pure torture for Julie and Ruthy to write a novella. Their grocery lists are novellas."

    LOL ... you have NO idea, my friend!! ;)

    Actually, my grocery lists are much shorter now, too, because Keith goes to the story several times a week, so it's usually just a few items until we have company, that is. Then, LOOK OUT!!!

    VINCE!!! Love the little poems (or whatever they are!) -- VERY cute!! How are you feeling, by the way??

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  78. The “nuts and bolts” .. Wow, so much as a reader I learn here! I do like collections so please.. toss me into the drawing :)

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  79. I am looking forward to reading The California Gold Rush Romance Collection.Thank you for the opportunity to win.

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  80. Amanda,

    Great information - thanks for sharing!

    Please put my name in for the drawing.

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  81. Great question, Bettie! In my case, it was my agent who suggested I submit to the Barbour novella collections—she sent me info when there was an opportunity. With Barbour, I’m pretty sure you have to have an agent to submit. Some other houses may do things differently though.

    I really, really want to read one of Julie and Ruthy’s grocery lists!!! Just sayin'...

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  82. Love reading books set in the Gold Rush period--California, Colorado and Alaska! Very excited about the chance to win! --Holly in Morehead, KY

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  83. Thank you Amanda!

    Please enter me in your drawing for "The California Gold Rush Romance Collection!" It looks like a great read!

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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  84. Amanda, I love this post, especially since I'm delving into the world of novellas myself. They are so fun to write. I'll be bookmarking this article for its great tips, especially on number of characters to include. That was so helpful!

    Thank-you for sharing, (and please enter me for the giveaway!) :)


    ~Schuyler

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  85. Hi Amanda! Lots of great tips there--thank you! I struggle to write tight and have not yet attempted a novella, but these tips may change that. I am still very new in my writing journey.

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  86. Hi Amanda! Lots of great tips there--thank you! I struggle to write tight and have not yet attempted a novella, but these tips may change that. I am still very new in my writing journey.

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  87. As a reader I love your tips. I really hate it when there is not a beginning middle and end to a novella. I hate it when it just sort of ends. . or never quite starts. Great thoughts.

    I would love to win The California Gold Rush. I enjoyed your story A Bride for a Bargain in The Most Eligible Bachelor collection

    Thanks so much!
    Becky B

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  88. I made a comment in the weekend edition that was actually intended for here. Boy, I must have been tired. Amanda, I hope this gets to you.

    When I was in high school, a friend of mine had to change schools her senior year due to her father's job change. At her new school, homecoming queen was a position you ran for, so she put her name in the contest, despite knowing no one.

    Her name was Candy Cain and she gave out "vote for her" buttons with candy canes. (Yes, she won.)

    I just finished a novella that's coming out at the end of August. The comment of yours that struck me most was to "keep a small cast." Most of my novella takes place in the home of a 16th century, high-ranking samurai. While my story has no "second cousins once removed," I know from my study of history that a samurai has a much bigger staff than I gave him. I just didn't want to confuse people, so I kept it small.

    It's my second novella and was much more fun than my first one.

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