By: Michelle Ule
Novellas are the rage these days and many people are writing them or putting together collections. I’ve got four tips here for how to write a novella, based on the five I’ve written for Barbour Publishing.
With only 20,000 words or less, you have to be careful. You can’t really include much subplot, characterizations need to be simple, and you have to plan the story so it makes sense, has a character arc, and ends in the proper place without cramming in too much at the end.
If you’ve got a lot of
story, like I did
in The Gold Rush Christmas, it can be a
Here are the four steps I took to write a novella
1. Chart out your story.
While I had the original synopsis accepted by my editor, I had done more research in the meantime and needed to tweak it a little.
The story began in the summer of 1897 because I wanted my three musketeers, Miles, Peter and Samantha, to get caught up in the heady rush to gold-country Alaska. Since A Pioneer Christmas Collection’s
needed to end with a satisfying romance at Christmastime, the story needed to
take place over a four to five month time span ending at Christmas.
I gave each major
scene its own chapter–or
two, December got a little complicated.
Since I was writing a romance and that means the story is told through two points of view (POV), I noted whose head I was supposed to be in during each scene. Several times I had to switch the order of scenes when one needed to be told from, say, Miles’ POV and it was Samantha’s turn. Having the skeleton helped me keep track of that.
I drew up a matrix and spent a delightful afternoon filling in the squares.
2. Figure out your ending.
I needed to know how my story was going to end before I got there, because I
. . .
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