Write a Novella? Easy Peasy …

by +AneMulligan @AneMulligan

Or so I thought.

Why didn’t someone tell me? Sure, a novella contains fewer words—about one quarter of a full novel to be exact. And I thought that meant less work. Ha! I mistakenly figured I wouldn’t need all that goal and motivation stuff. After all, this was short and a romance.

Boy, did I have a lot to learn.

It took a weeklong binge of Hallmark Christmas movies to open my mind to an ugly fact: It takes the same amount of time to work up the character interviews, learn their goals, motivations, lies, wounds, etc. And that list doesn’t even include the plot. Yikes.


I didn’t think of that part when I signed up. No, when some friends called for submissions for a compilation, I just opened my big mouth. The deed done, I needed to figure out how writing a novella was different.

I’m used to penning 90K+ word novels. I show and don’t tell, and I write in deep POV. You don’t do it the same way in a novella. You have to tell a bit more in 20K words or you’ll never get the story inside your word count. But you have to do it so it doesn’t feel like telling. Great.

If you read my last post here on layering you’ll understand more about how I write. You still have to layer in a novella, but there isn’t room for a single word that doesn’t serve double duty. Make that triple duty.

So what’s a writer to do?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I called my critique partners a lot. I had to reconfigure the story I had in mind. Then I wrote a few chapters … and rewrote them … and rewrote—well, you get the idea. I’ve redone all the GMC several times to get it right.

I’ve think written a novel’s worth of words trying to get the 20K right. I have a whole new respect for novella authors.

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How does writing a novella compare to writing a full novel? (Click to tweet)

I have a whole new respect for novella authors.~ Ane Mulligan (Click to Tweet)

Award-winning author Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She’s a novelist, a humor columnist, playwright and creative director of a community theatre. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a dog of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane at her website, Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.