Learning to Write Novellas

Learning to Write Novellas

A few years ago, I decided to take a break before writing the second book in the Serena Manchester series. I felt burnt out from pumping out 75,000 – 80,000 words for the novels in both the Victory Gospel Series and Serena Manchester for my then publisher, Urban Christian. I have an existing schedule where I like to write a book for my independently published book series, Eugeena Patterson Mysteries every two years. So, I took a break from writing.

During my break, I’d noticed many authors were writing novellas which seemed to have grown popular with readers. After a few months of brainstorming I pulled together ideas about a family with five siblings. These five siblings were tested in their daily work in law enforcement as well as their personal relationships. As with many of my novels, I wanted to explore how each sibling embraces their faith as they fight to put away or expose criminals?

I really wasn’t sure at first how well-developed I could create these characters with a novella. The recommended word count for a novella is 17,500 to 40,000 words.  My Eugeena Patterson cozy mystery series come a little under 50,000 words, so I knew for me to write a well-developed story I needed to come close to 40,000 words.

On average the Reed Family novellas are 35,000 words with my most recent book, Relentless Heart coming in a little over 37,000 words. Here is synopsis below:

Relentlessheart Smpb 3dAssistant District Attorney Asia Reed is relentless about not losing a case. But she’s fighting a losing battle in the faith department. Now approaching forty, never married and with no children, a growing sense of unease has made her weary about her career and life.

When a former boyfriend and prominent defense attorney is gunned down in his office, Asia is jolted into action, determined to find out who’s responsible. Only hours before his death, Adam Locklear insists they meet about information she needs to know. Did Locklear’s death have anything to do with what he wanted share?

Detective Isaac Coleman seems to think so. Asia is determined to find out!

The key advice I can give with writing a novella is to keep the plots tight. I have one main plot and because I’m writing romantic suspense, the budding romance or relationship issue tends to be the one sub-plot.  With novels, I tended to have two or more sub-plots, which can get a bit complicated with wrapping up as you draw closer to the conclusion of a story. I have liked the fact with the novellas I can wrap up the main plot and sub-plot fairly easily without trying to remember the many details that comes with multiple sub-plots.

My goal when I write the first chapters are to bring out the personality and current issues facing the characters, hopefully in a way that is immediately relatable. These novellas do not have to be read in order, but I have to say writing a series helps with the character development for the next book for me.

For example, since I have introduced Asia Reed in both Broken Heart and Trouble Heart, I really felt like I could relate and share the oldest sister’s story. Also didn’t hurt that I’m the oldest sister in my family, so I knew some of the expectations that came with that sibling order. All of the sisters have a strong desire for justice, but with Asia being an ADA and the oldest, she was the more ambitious of all the sisters. I knew she would push a bit harder, because older siblings tend to be overachievers.

So far I have received pretty favorable reviews and readers are enjoying getting to know the family. Currently there are three sisters featured in three novellas, Broken Heart, Troubled Heart, and Relentless Heart. In 2018, I hope to continue the series with the two brothers. I hope you get a chance to read the sisters’ stories and please leave a review to let me know what you think.

Tyora Moody is the author of Soul-Searching Suspense novels in the Reed Family Series, Serena Manchester Series, Victory Gospel Series and the Eugeena Patterson Mysteries. She is also the author of the nonfiction book, The Literary Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, and the compilation editor for the Stepping Into Victory Compilations under her company, Tymm Publishing LLC.

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