Monday, July 2, 2018

How To Write A Novella

You have a fantastic idea for a story. But it just doesn't seem long enough to be a full length novel. Yet it seems too long to be a short story. Where does your story fit?

How about a novella?

A novella is one of those short works of fiction, bumping in between novels and short stories. A novella has a word count range of 17,500 words to 40,000 words. If your story falls within these numbers as far as word count goes, then writing a novella will be perfect for you.

But how do you write a novella?

The short answer is: write your story and worry about word count only after you've told the whole tale. The key thing to bear in mind is to make sure you're actually writing a story. Whether it's a novel, novella, short story or flash fiction, you must write a story. That's the only thing that really matters.

To give you a longer answer, I will share with you how I wrote my novella, The Dangerous Way Home.

I took several of the same steps in writing this short work that I took to write my young adult novel, From Bad Girl To Worse. I skipped some of the more detailed steps, simply because of the brevity of the story. 

If you want to know all of the steps I took to write my novel, read this post and continue on through the whole series. You could even follow all of these steps in writing a novella. If you have the time, I recommend following all of them. By doing that, you'll be able to write a compelling novella that readers can't put down. 

So, here's what I did to write mine. And it's an easy way to start writing yours.

- Identify the point you want your novella to make. Think about the greatest takeaway you want your reader to walk away with after reading it. For example, the the takeaway I wanted to give my readers was, "Family is more important than money."

- Craft your "Big What If". Use the point you defined for your story to create a what if scenario that embodies it.  For example, in The Dangerous Way Home, I asked the question, "What if a working class husband and father fought to escape a gang of violent criminals after he witnessed them fatally beat a defenseless man while walking home from his night job through a bad neighborhood? And the only reason why he even worked nights was to make enough money to give his family a better life?"

- Create a compelling character with a conflict between his greatest goal, and his specific longstanding misbelief. My protagonist, John Silva's greatest goal was to make enough money to move his family out of a crime-ridden neighborhood to a safer suburban community. His longstanding misbelief was that he would someday abandon his family when things at home got too tough to handle, just like his father did.

- Draft a high concept pitch for your story. This high concept pitch should be a one or two sentence synopsis of your story. This pitch will become your guiding light through the story crafting process. It will also help you quickly tell others what your story is about without boring them. For example, here's the high concept pitch for The Dangerous Way Home:

"A hardworking family man, while walking home from his night job, must outrun three cold-blooded killers through a dangerous neighborhood after he witnesses them savagely beat a defenseless man to death."

- Create a basic story flow list, detailing how you envision the story playing out. Click on this link to find out more on how to compile your list.

- Craft a Blake Snyder beat sheet using the basic story flow list you compiled. Read this blog post for more information on crafting a beat sheet for your story. Here's what the beat sheet for The Dangerous Way Home looks like.

- Using your beat sheet, write the story. Write the actual content of your tale. It might help to use the beats on your beat sheet as markers for your chapters. 

-Self-edit your story the best you can, then hire a professional editor. Careful editing is a critical step in crafting the best story you possibly can--even if it is a novella. The experience of working with a talented editor will make you an excellent writer.

- Publish your novella either as a story in a short fiction anthology, or as a standalone e-book. I chose to publish my novella as an Amazon Kindle E-Book.

- The important thing to remember is: Have fun. Enjoy the writing process. Creating a story shouldn't be stressful. It should be enjoyable. You'll find all the story development help you need right here on this blog. There are few other places where you will find this much helpful information on the craft of writing. 

Success is yours,

L. R. Farren
Author of From Bad Girl To Worse 

P. S. - Some of the greatest movies ever made started out not as novels, but novellas. Wouldn't you like to see yours play out on the silver screen?

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