If you haven’t heard by now, SMP’s newest Christmas anthology Sizzle in the Snow -A Soul Mate Christmas Collection is out, released on December 2nd. For the first week of its book life it was in the top 100 best-selling anthologies on the Canadian Amazon list, reaching number 20! It made it into the top 200 in America. Quite an accomplishment, which we were happy to be a part of. The anthology is composed of eight Christmas romances, a varying degrees of sensuality, and has already garnered three five-stars reviews and one four-star at the writing of this blog post.
Our novella, Kissing Santa (you can read an excerpt here) was our first time writing something less than 90,000 words. We write with multiple POVs (usually a minimum of three and sometimes five), and multiple plot lines and romance lines, so cramming a whole story into ten- thousand words was a challenge for us. And, no, we did not have that many plot lines and povs in the novella. (Although Catherine’s muse kept trying to take her off book. LOL) We did stick to our usual writing process: get an idea, Donald plots, Catherine writes the first draft, and then we tear it apart. Along the way we learned a few things that we’d like to share with those who haven’t written novellas before.
- You have to reduce and refine the story line. There’s usually no room for multiple plot lines and multiple twists in 10,000 words.
- It’s hard to create 3-dimensional characters in a few thousand words. Using inner dialogue will help make your characters more real to the reader.
- Writing tight is extremely important when creating a novella. If the words, scene, or description don’t move the story forward cut, cut, cut! Every word has to count.
- Even novellas need conflict, so make sure your story has conflict.
- Put the conflict up front. There’s no time for passages of back story or prologues in a novella.
- Don’t stress too much about the word count the first time through. That’s what revisions are for. Catherine’s first draft was way over the original word limit, but we managed to par it down. And, as we all know, revision is the key to a sparkling manuscript.
- Novellas are great, quick ways to keep your presence in the market between those long books that require so much more time.
Although creating our first novella was a challenge, we certainly liked the short time frame we spent writing the first draft. In about 10 hours of actual sit-at-computer-time (2 hours for five days) we had a completed novella. There was something inherently satisfying about writing THE END after such a short work week. The revisions were another matter, however. Still, the entire process was much faster than our usual manuscripts, and after overhearing a conversation at a restaurant yesterday, we are ready to start the novella process again!
Have you ever written a novella? How did you like the process?