Novella to Novel, the perils of writing short

Moonday Mania

a blog about writing short

I’ve written novellas before. All three of my Twisted Tales: Come Into the Woods sexy, shifter romances are novella length romances. Okay, so they’re long novellas, but they’re still novellas! At between 32,000 and 36,000 they hit just under the cutoff that Romance Writers of America uses for novella: 40,000 words. So…when I decided to write a short contemporary romance novella with paranormal elements for my new Haunted Holidays series—I knew I could keep it under the 40k mark.

But that didn’t happen.

I used the method I’ve used before. I did a bare bones outline of the plot and fit in all the key elements that needed to happen. I then figured out the word count and now many words I needed in each chapter. After all that, I set out to write the book. Knowing I tend to add in words when I edit—I set my goals low and gave myself room to add wordcount and still have a novella.

And then I wrote. And did my first round of edits. And sent it off to Mary, my CP.

ghosts of christmas past by jessica aspenWhen Mary sent it back, she wanted more. More detail. More emotion. More character development. So I added that in and it was sneaking very close to 40k. The dreaded novella/novel line. But I sent it off to the developmental editor knowing what was going to happen. What had to happen.

She wanted more. More. More. More.

And now, my romance novella is officially a romance novel. Just barely. Could I have gone in and cut it down and skimmed under the novel mark. Yes. I’m sure I could have done it. There are always words to remove. But if I did that, would Jen still feel like the positive person she is, even though she’s going through so much trauma?

Would Nate be sympathetic as a hero, even though he makes mistakes and hides the truth about the house from Jen?

And would you, the reader, understand why Agnes, the ghost, does what she does? She’s a complex character, and you don’t get to see too much of her. Maybe the reader wouldn’t get what I do about her, that she’s just doing what she can to keep the status quo. Something that is more important to her than to almost anyone else because of who she is. Would you get it?

I didn’t think so.

And now I have a super short novel, instead of a novella. Or, you could look at it as a super long novella. Will it be something my readers of long books will like? I don’t know. I’ve had my first review, and it was terrific, but I still don’t know if my readers will jump to ghost stories versus shifter and fantasy romance. Will you jump?

Do you like short novels? Do you prefer a novella length, or does it make any difference? Do you like longer books? What about jumping to gothic romance? Are you ready to make the leap?




Filed under Ghosts of Christmas Past, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing craft

4 responses to “Novella to Novel, the perils of writing short

  1. Interesting, Jessica. Of course I hope your readers will follow you. Myself, I wonder if we get too hung up on being so strict about genre followings and who likes what. While historical fiction is my favourite read I’ve read wonderful contemporary novels which don’t really fit and loved them. Mostly I want to be transported by great characters, writing, and imagination. I suspect your readers may feel the same.

    • I love your novels and I read a little historical fiction. You, and Diana Gabaldon (who is really a genre twister). As this industry shifts and changes I’m becoming aware that I should make sure that I can ride the changing tides. Moving into paranormal suspense via my new Gothic is part of that. Plus, I just like to write them. 🙂

  2. Carole St-Laurent

    It’s always a good sign with CPs and editors want more, more, more!

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