I’ve been thinking about writing a novella while still working on my novel, so after doing some research, I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve learned on the process of writing a novella. For the most part, novella writing seems to be about the same as a writing a novel, but on a much smaller allowance…20k words versus my usual 90k. So with that in mind, I made five steps for myself to follow after I’ve picked my story, my POV and have done my research homework on my setting and topic.
- Plan your story’s format. Because of the limited pages, plan out the word counts allotted to each chapter. I think 10 chapters at 2k words each would be perfect, but if you want to do 9 chapters or 11, just make sure when you are outlining to divide the scenes accordingly for a nice, even word count for a well laid out novella.
- Know your ending. For a reforming pantser, knowing the ending before sitting down to type out the story is still difficult. Normally, I can see the beginning of the tracks and I know the general direction where the train is heading, but then the fog covers the end of the line. It’s exciting writing without knowing exactly where you will end up. However, with only 20,000 words in a novella, I can’t half-plan and half-pants the story…I need to know where I am going before I start because if I don’t, by the time I figure out the ending, I’ll be 5k over the limit and ain’t nobody got time for all those revisions to follow. In the case of the novella, it’s best to know the ending.
- Outline and find those major points. After doing your macro and micro outlines, reevaluate your story. Limited space means limited scenes, so make sure that each and every scene pushes the story toward that perfect ending.
- Get writing, follow your outline and don’t look up until the story is done! I think that with a 5k word count each week, a quality piece should be “done” in 4 weeks.
- Edit and polish to perfection. Most of us will probably go over the 20k word count, so now it’s time to slash and burn those little adjectives, redundant sentences and beautiful, but wordy metaphors and tighten the story. You only have 20,000 words to impress the reader into wanting to read more of your work, so let your work shine!
I’m excited about trying my hand at a novella and I hope what I’ve learned helps you 🙂
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