Faye Arcand, My Twisted Writer Brain…, Writing a Book

I Don’t Want to Write a Novel–So Now What?

If writing a full length 80,000-90,000 novel is too much for you then work on a novella. They are shorter, faster paced, and follow a short story type of set up.

You can make it as intense as you like as you concentrate on making things happen within your word count.

What is a Novella?

From Wikipedia: A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel.

A novella is a very short novel or an extra long short story. Simple as that. They are normally anywhere from 20,000 to 45,000 words long and many consider a novella a quick read.

What is Needed in a Novella?

Sketch out your plot.

Since the word count is limited you must jump into the action quickly and you must keep it going. You can follow the rules for writing a short story s discussed here: My Twisted Writer Brain…Why Aren’t You Writing and Selling More Short Stories? and expand to the word count with details to become a novella.

Consider using only one main character otherwise you won’t have enough time to develop him/her/they properly. Have the character be part of the rising action immediately.

Subplots need to be minimized or eliminated due to space. It won’t work to have things happening behind the scenes. If you want to do this you’re better off writing a novel as you’ll need more space to build the scenes.

A compelling setting. Whether a room, a city, or a park–the setting needs to play a part in enhancing the novella. A setting which is constant in time. This will assist in moving the plot forward without having to change up or rebuild the setting.

Rising tension and conflict are important to keep the reader moving forward.

Make your main character work hard. As soon as he/she/they have solved an issue throw another obstacle in their way before they can reach the ultimate goal. Keep doing this. That is how you keep the tension going.

Read a few novellas and see how fast they move. They’re often a quick read but can be very compelling.

Goodreads lists the top 100 novellas of all time here

Here is the Top 10 Novellas of All Time as per Goodreads.

  1. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  2. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  3. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  4. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  5. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  6. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  7. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  8. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  9. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  10. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I’m sure you’ll recognize some of these titles. Some are literary in nature but that is not a requirement for a novella. Check out the others on the list too.

If you’re writing for a younger audience the novella is also a great length to deal with a particular social subject fully with a complete character analysis. Check out Lorimer Publishing.These are young adult novellas dealing with issue related topics.

No matter your audience, make the story compelling, relatable, and complete. Use that single point of view from the main character to drive the plot forward and take the reader along.

The story can be literary or genre–it doesn’t matter. Just keep it short, quick moving, and interesting.

So you don’t want to invest the time in writing and developing an entire novel. Now you have no excuses. I can’t wait to hear about your novella.

7 thoughts on “I Don’t Want to Write a Novel–So Now What?”

  1. I’ve read all but one of the listed novellas. Considering their literary impact, it’s hard to believe they’re anything other than full-length novels.

  2. Animal Farm and Old Man By The Sea are novellas? I don’t know why but they felt like entire novels to me. I think I need to get me some novellas to vary it up a bit. Been on an epic sci-fi/fantasy binge and I think I’ll need shorter books to cleanse my palate. Great stuff as usual, Faye!

    1. Hi Stuart. Always great to see you. It’s amazing isn’t it? Old Man in the Sea was like 27k…short and sweet but punched full of character, circumstance, and story. After I finish my current novel I’ll take a stab at a novella. Thanks for reading. xo

  3. My first ten books were all novels. Each one took me over a year to write (rough draft). Recently switched genres and wrote a novella -first draft only took two weeks. What a difference! And learning to cut the filler words helped to tighten up the story immensely. Thanks for another great post.

    1. That is so good to hear. I’m going to attempt a novella after I get two novels off my desk (currently in rewrites then to betas…then another rewrite…and finally to agent…) Like you say…one year vs. a month…that’s huge. Thanks for commenting Marion. I’m feeling inspired.

Thank you for visiting. I really hope you enjoyed reading my post. Remember to Comment and Like. Please FOLLOW below.