In the world of creative fiction, great stories come in all sizes and styles. You’ve probably read best-selling novels and breezed through some action-packed short stories.
A novella is defined as a work of narrative fiction that runs between 20,000 and 50,000 words. Once a story exceeds 50,000 words, it is entering the novel territory.
Fiction genres are typically distinguished by word count, but you can also think of the average short story as 10 to 25 pages and the average novella as 100 to 150 pages. A standard novel is 250 to 300 pages, so you may need a few days to get cover.
Follow these tips for writing a novella of your own:
Read lots of novellas
You don’t want to start writing a novella if you’ve never carefully read one. Paying attention to the narrative and stylistic choices, structure, and pacing in other novellas will help you craft your own. You might even discover a novella category you never knew existed. From historical and autobiographical stories to science fiction, gothic, and mystery tales, there is a novella type for everyone. Expand your reading list with ideas from our blog post featuring classic novellas.
Outline key scenes
If you’ve written a short story before, you might be surprised to find the process of writing a novella is quite different. The longer structure of a novella demands a more detailed approach. Before you begin writing, think about the main conflicts your characters will encounter. Choose a setting for each, note who is involved, and the outcome of each event.
Choose a point of view
There are three basic points of view used in fiction writing. Decide which kind of narration makes the most sense for your novella, and then stick to it. A lot of stories are told in the first-person perspective (using “I” or “my”) because it creates a powerful and personal connection with the character telling the story. Second-person point of view (using “you”) is not very common in fiction, but it can be effective for certain tales. Third-person perspective (using “he/she” or “they”) gives an all-powerful narrator outside the story complete access to the characters’ lives and minds, so it’s a very popular choice.
Develop a character arc
You will want to decide where your characters will end up before you begin your novella. Is this a story of triumph, revenge, courage, discovery, reward, or loss? Use what you know about the character’s personality to create a believable path for them. The stronger the character development (emotions, motivations, decisions, and reactions), the more readers will connect with the story.
Revise your drafts
Even the most experienced writers need editors. After finishing a draft of your novella, allow time for readers you trust to review it and provide feedback. You can even give them a list of story elements to help focus their comments: strong opening/closing, character development, setting, plot conflicts, dialogue, tone, and consistent verb tenses. Receiving constructive criticism on creative projects is not easy for anyone, but it is an essential part of producing your best work and becoming a better writer.
Writing a Novella doesn’t require a big investment in time, so there’s no reason not to try! If your story grows into something larger, check out tips for writing short stories and novels.
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