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Posted by on Jan 28, 2015 in The Writing Life | 24 comments

Why I’m Writing a Novella

Why I’m Writing a Novella


I’m halfway through the first draft of my WIP, and I’m still excited about it. I consider this a triumph worth celebrating.

Granted, it’s a little smaller than past projects. I’m guessing it’s going to be in the neighborhood of 30,000 words. A novella. Like a novel, but more bite-sized. Sort of like those miniature cattle you see in petting zoos. Or something.

The working title is The Weatherman’s Apprentice. It’s a post-apocalyptic story about a young boy who discovers that his father is controlling the weather.

Today I’d like to talk a little about this story, and why I’ve chosen to go with the novella format.


1. My Critique Group Told Me To


The story actually began about a year ago, as a 5,000 word short. When I brought it to my critique group, they really liked it, but felt that the underlying story was too big for the format. The character development was rushed; the climax felt too short, and the end was anticlimactic.

I needed to expand it, they told me. The problem was, there wasn’t really enough story there to expand into a novel without a complete plot overhaul.

A novella seemed like a good solution; I could keep my original plot, just beef it up a little. My 5,000 word story became the outline for a 30,000 word novella.


2. Novellas are Good Practice for Writing Novels


Short stories and novels are different beasts entirely. Each come with their own set of challenges and pitfalls. Writing a thousand short stories might improve your craft, but at the end of it you’re not going to understand novel writing any better.

A novella is similar to a novel in terms of structure and pacing, but everything happens on a much smaller scale. For me, it’s a lot easier to keep an eye on my story structure and character arcs. I can practice the basics of noveling in a smaller, slightly more controlled arena.


3. A (Hopefully) Faster Road to Publication and Stuff


I’m making vague plans to e-publish this novella at some point within the next year. Maybe 2016, if I’m particularly lazy and unmotivated in the next twelve months.

But since it’s smaller and simpler than any of my full-length novels, I’m hoping for a much shorter post-writing process. I’ll publish it as an ebook; stick it on my website, and I’ll have street cred for actually having something OUT THERE.

With any amount of luck, it’ll also be fun to read, and you nice folks will be all stoked to buy my novels whenever they come along. Heheheh.


4. It Makes Me Sound Smart


If you tell the average barista or car mechanic or librarian that you’re writing a novel, you will often be met with the slightly raised eyebrow of skepticism, or the barely restrained smile that says they have you all figured out; you’re one of those creative artsy types who drink vanilla lattes and majored in English and are trying to write a book. They’ve seen your type before.

However, if you lean your elbow on the counter with an appropriate degree of languid unconcern and mention offhandedly that you are composing a novella…

Well then.

The average consumer doesn’t know what a novella is. The added syllable gives the word a sophisticated, perhaps exotic flair. If you incline your head just right, with a tiny patronizing smile, the person with whom you speak will get the vague impression that a novella is much much harder to write. You’d explain, but it’s too complicated.

They will see that you are an Artist, floating high above the plane of mortal men, and they will look upon you with awe and trembling.


I’m gonna go write a novella now. See you guys next week.


photo credit: CJS*64 via photopin cc


  1. #4 is definitely the best reason 😀

  2. Wow, I’m excited to read it! Sounds like a creative storyline!

    I’ve published a novella/novelette in e-book form before. Have you ever heard of the Snippet App? What I loved about that is that it’s multimedia, so I could include a recording of the song I wrote for the story. The link is:, and my story is here:, if you’re curious. 🙂

    • This looks really cool! I’ll have to check this out further… Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

  3. 1) Your critique group sounds truly brilliant.

    2) Since I’ve written two novellas and one novel, I guess I have lots of practice.

    3) !!!

    4) I actually tend to refer to my three works collectively as “novels” trying to avoid confusing people, and then I back up and say two are actually short and so novellas, and they tend to kind of blink at me. All this to say I didn’t know that using the word novella made me sound smart! “Two novellas and a novel…” it is then.

    (Though one does seem to get more immediate respect when you say you’ve /written/ a novel, and aren’t simply “in process.” For obvious reasons.)

    • 1) They were indeed. If only you could have known them.
      2) You have had three times as much practice as the average human.
      3) !!!!!!!
      4) I like that. It complicates things. Makes it even more intelligent sounding.

  4. I’m writing a novella! Well, it’ll start as that, and then maybe one day I’ll be able to twist it into a novel. We’ll see. 🙂 And #4 is a great idea. I’ll have to work on that. 😉

    • Twist, or pull, or zap, or whatever you have to do. 😉 Sounds good!

  5. Oh Yes, I do like 4 as well as the others!

  6. I’m writing a novelette. (15-25 thousand words). Now that sounds SUPER fancy.

    • That sounds like something a hairy lumberjack probably wouldn’t write.

  7. Cool premise! I’ve actually been pondering some novellas too. I have a mechanized fantasy world in mind for several stories, but they’re just quite coming together in a way that feels like they should be full-fledged novels. So we’ll see. It might be fun to experiment with a slightly different medium too.

    • DO IT! I love mechanized gadgety fantasy.

  8. I really like reason #4!!! That’s great your thinking about publishing soon!

    • Never too soon to start thinking about it! Just don’t let it be ALL you think about. 😉

  9. Hey Braden!
    Thanks for this post. 🙂
    Quite a few friends of mine were just suggesting that I turn my current novel idea into a novella…
    Excited to hear about you publishing. 😀

    • Sounds like a majority vote! Can’t hurt to try, and you could always expand it later. 😉

  10. I just finished my first novel’s rough draft (!!) and have relized it is really a novella. 😛 I was kinda disturbed at how short it was but now I feel better. Thanks!

  11. Way to go. I’ve mainly stuck to Short stories so far (i’ve got full novels in-work, but nothing near completion) The nice thing about short Stories, or Novellas are that since they’re shorter, their easier (in some ways that is, and harder in others). Mainly i just like the felling of actually FINISHING something, and not spending hours banging my head against the keyboard (and we all know how dangerous THAT is.. One could accidentally write another Twilight book :P) lol. Btw on the subject of self-publishing, have you considered Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Through Amazon? Here’s the link to their page: From what i know, it’s a pretty worthwhile system with a lot of leeway for getting your work out in the waythat you want: on-demand print copies, ebooks, even audiobooks. You should check it out!

  12. Dude. I’m already stoked to by your novels, so shut up. Like. Get one published already. Because obviously –

    Also, my reaction to the first paragraph of #4: Suggesting that I’ve seen their type too often as well.

    Anyways, great post. I might have to write a novella. Plus, yours sounds fascinating. I must read the thing.

  13. Good for you! I look forward to reading your novella when it comes out! 😀

    I’m currently writing a novella as well. it’s almost finished- maybe three thousand words to go, which really isn’t much. It started as a short story, but as I developed the idea in my mind, I realized that it had potential to be a fully fledged novel. But Since I didn’t really want to add too many supblots to the story, I decided to go with a happy medium and write a novella. It does sound smart saying it, too.

    It’s funny, when you mentioned the ‘barista’ looking at you condescendingly thinking “I’ve seen your type before”, I laughed. I used to be a barista, but I was also a writer. So if the artsy english major had told me they were writing a novel, I would have said, “Congratulations! So am I!” 😉

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