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…
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.