I’m writing a novella. More accurately, I’m planning a novella. The Codex writers forum runs a novella contest every year, and this year I thought I’d give it a try for the first time. I’m not allowed to start writing until Nov. 1, which gives me time to figure out what the story will be.
Given that novellas are hard to sell (too long to be a short story, too short to be a novel), why am I bothering?
Reason 1: It sounded like fun. I like the camaraderie of writing with a bunch of other people (bonus: the contest coincides with National Novel Writing Month). I like having a deadline to encourage me to actually get things done.
Reason 2: I’ve heard that short novels work well as self-published ebooks, and I’ve been wanting to dip my toe into those waters. A big part of success at self-publishing seems to come from being prolific, and it’s easier to be prolific at 30k a book than at 90k a book.
Reason 3: While I seem to have found a process for producing decent short stories in a reasonable amount of time, my novel process sucks. I’m hoping to sneak up on a novel by trying things out at an in-between length.
For this novella, I’m following The 30 Day Novel Success Journal: Overcome Procrastination, Figure Out What Happens Next, and Get Your Novel Written, which I bought after taking a workshop (on emotional impact) from the author, Lynn Johnston. It’s basically a workbook for writing a novel in 30 days. There is a section of pre-writing questions that are similar to the sorts of things I usually think about before writing anyway (like, character, setting, and plot…).
Most of the book is divided up into one section for each day. Each section includes a short description of where you should be in the story, some brainstorming questions to think about before writing, and some post-writing questions (like, how the writing went, did you write when you planned to, and what distracted you). The before-you-write questions make it seem a little formulaic, but it seems to follow a standard plot structure based on the hero’s journey, and she gives some ideas of how to make changes to fit your specific book.
If it works out, I’ll post about how it went in early December. (If it doesn’t work out, I might post sooner.)