What the heck is a novella?

21 Jan

And how the heck do I write one? Novellas can be a great alternative for the short story writer, or for the writer who wants to publish, but just doesn’t have the time (or patience) to write a full novel. Sharifa McFarlane sheds some light:

What exactly is a novella? It is a story with a condensed plot.

Novellas appeal to fans of many different genres. Mystery novellas, science fiction novellas, romance novellas and erotic romance novellas have all done well in the publishing industry.

Writing a Novella

You want to write a novella. You may have an idea for a novel or a novella that’s been in your head for months or years. The story interests you and you want to birth something with it. 

You want to create a story that, hopefully, will make it to a bestseller list. Writing about romance is very profitable.  Creating a story about a conflict of ideas or a conflict between characters works well in fiction writing. Good dialogue is used as a tool in fiction writing, to show the nature of the individuals in the story. 

How to Write a Novella: The First Step

Where do you start?

If you want to improve your writing skills you may consider taking a course in creative writing. Some courses in creative writing are offered through community colleges. Other schools offer creative writing courses online. When you decide to start working on your idea, writing a novella may be an easier place to start, because the novella is shorter than the novel and finishing it may seem like a more achievable target.

You may have to learn to type without looking. If you learn how to type without looking at the keyboard, you will be able to work faster. You can find typing lessons free online. If you have a love of words, this skill will help you put those words on paper quickly. Athlyn Green has a very good article which shares a technique you can use to improve your typing speed.

Novella Word Count

The novella length is usually about 20,000 to 50,000 words long, although there are some that have a novella length as short as 9,000 words or as long as 75,000 words. Set your target if you can, so that you can measure your progress as you write.

Started but Facing Writer’s Block? Helpful Writer’s Block Tips

Maybe you have started work on your novella, but now you’re stuck at chapter two, waiting in frustration for insight as to how the story should progress. Alan Orloff, author of, ‘Diamonds for the Dead’, suggests that working on a different section of your manuscript may be the solution. Read more of his suggestions here:

How to Write a Novella: Decide on Your Story

You’re a writer and it’s likely that you already have several good ideas for a story.

Choose the idea that fascinates you the most.

Write a summary of your idea as it would appear on the jacket of your novella.

Read it over. Is there anything you could include in the idea of the novel that would make it even more engaging?

It has to be consistently engaging, from the beginning through to the end.

How to Write a Novella: Setting of the Novella

Decide on the setting. This is the time, location and also mood in which your novella takes place.

Different factors affect the setting and the setting in turn affects how your characters behave. Your novella can be set in summer or winter. It can be set in the middle of a war or directly after a war. Your story can take place in an office building on a tropical island or in an apartment complex in Dubai.

Wherever it is, your setting should be as interesting as the story itself. Don’t create a lackluster setting.


Image by dbking via Flickr

How to Write a Novella: Pace of the Novella

Decide on the pace of your story.

Will it have a relaxing, slow pace? Will it urge the reader on with the characters as they race from chapter to chapter and is that necessary for your story? 

Conflict, which can be between characters or exist between the characters and their circumstances, links the incidents in the story and determine how slowly or quickly the novella moves.

How to Write a Novella: Novella Structure

Structure your story.

You must know how your story will begin and end. Then you should have a better idea of how to get from one point to the other. There are five essential parts to the plot of a novella. These are known as the:

1)      Introduction

2)      Rising Action

3)      Climax

4)      Falling Action

5)      Resolution

Make two story clocks. One which shows the overall sequence of events in your novella and another which shows the timed sequence of events in your novella in smaller increments.

Construct sketches of the overall plot and any sub-plots you want your story to have.

While you write, remember that your story should satisfy some need or craving that your readers have.

Think of what they may want. This is what will help them to continue turning the pages.

If their needs aren’t being met they will put the book down

Now scoot your butt and publish your work! (Evin Wilkins –


Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “What the heck is a novella?

  1. Michelle Proulx

    January 22, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Hahaha I love that step one is Type Fast. It really is kind of crucial to writing, isn’t it? You won’t get anywhere in this day and age without basic typing abilities. I keep telling this to my mother, but she refuses to progress behind the “two finger lunge” method.

    • mrgurupublishing

      January 22, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      LOL. It takes long enough to write a novel as it is. Can you imagine if you are a “hunt and peck” type?

      • Michelle Proulx

        January 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm

        I don’t want to imagine that. It’s too painful.


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