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Questions about writing a novella. : FAQs • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Questions about writing a novella.

Frequently asked questions. Go HERE and read the first thread.
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roda havet
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Questions about writing a novella.

Postby roda havet » Fri May 20, 2016 7:54 am

I started writing what I thought was going to be a short story. But found it would be better as a novella. So I've got some questions on how to write a novella.
1. How long do the chapters have to be? I'm asking this because I read where an author named James Patterson made some of his chapters as short as 3 pages long. Is something like that okay?
2. Can you write the first chapter about the MC and then take the second chapter putting in a new character into play (at least the main part)?
Note: Character in second chapter will be mentioned in the first.
3. Does the main character and all other characters that will be in her life have to be mentioned in the first or second chapter?

Any and all advice is welcomed. :)
[color=#00BF00]Dream to live, live to dream, and write to love, love to write![/color]

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Re: Questions about writing a novella.

Postby shadowwalker » Fri May 20, 2016 8:11 am

"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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roda havet
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Re: Questions about writing a novella.

Postby roda havet » Fri May 20, 2016 8:35 am

Thank you so much Shadowwalker. This information is very helpful, now I can start making changes to the story and addition I'm figuring out. :)
[color=#00BF00]Dream to live, live to dream, and write to love, love to write![/color]

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shadowwalker
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Re: Questions about writing a novella.

Postby shadowwalker » Fri May 20, 2016 10:58 am

The thing to remember is that outside of grammar, there are no "rules" as to how a story is written. Write an interesting story. Period.
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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roda havet
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Re: Questions about writing a novella.

Postby roda havet » Fri May 20, 2016 4:27 pm

Thank you for the good advice. :)
[color=#00BF00]Dream to live, live to dream, and write to love, love to write![/color]

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Re: Questions about writing a novella.

Postby cynicalwanderer » Sat May 21, 2016 11:29 am

It might be worth doing a bit of outlining before you start. Helps to bring any structural problems to the surface early on, and to visualise your goals for the piece more clearly in your mind. Once you're happy with a barebones outline, you can then start expanding your notes out further into individual scenes and goals for those scenes.

It's not for everyone - some writers feel constrained by knowing what's coming in advance, and prefer to write the first draft in "discovery mode". Which is fine, if you don't mind the prospect of heavier editing later on.
"I've stopped giving advice. Even when people ask for it, they resent getting it." -Ross Macdonald.

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roda havet
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Re: Questions about writing a novella.

Postby roda havet » Sat May 21, 2016 1:42 pm

I sometimes do a small outline. I'll get the characters and places together, then give myself some notes on each thing before I start writing. :)
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Re: Questions about writing a novella.

Postby James A. Ritchie » Sat May 21, 2016 5:39 pm

I wouldn't use Patterson as a guide. He's famous enough he could write in crayon and his publisher wouldn't complain. This said, chapter length doesn't matter, but chapter content does. Short or long, a chapter has to be a chapter, not just a randomly broken stretch of prose. A chapter is like a paragraph. It needs one scene, and a break point at the end of that scene. The difference is that you can use scene breaks in a chapter, going from one location and PoV character to another, as long as each sub-scene pertains to the story that chapter is trying to tell.

Even though there are many ways of telling a story, there are rules for writing a good story. Telling an interesting story is always the goal, but without using a fair number of rules, this is not going to happen. Storytelling isn't about grammar and punctuation A story can have perfect grammar and perfect punctuation, and still be an unreadable mess. Too, a story can have horrible grammar, and still be a fascinating bestseller. Just read Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Grammar has to be appropriate to story and character, not determined by what an English teacher or grammar book states.

Each type of story has its own rules of pace, flow, structure, description, etc. PoV, on the other hand, has some pretty strict rules, regardless of story type. You learn these rules by reading published stories of the type you want to write. But believe me, there are rules, and these are what separate the good writer from the poor writer, the good storyteller from the poor storyteller. Writing good sentences that say something true in a pleasing, readable way matters greatly. Content is too often overlooked in favor of style. There really are many ways of telling a story, but no way that does not involve rules.

Just as there are many ways of writing a good story, there are far, far more ways of writing a bad story. Most who try writing find one of the bad ways. If you read enough fiction, and IF you have talent, you won't need to worry much about the rules, but the rules will still be there, and you'll use them without having to think much about them. If you lack talent, knowing these rules won't help.

Anyway, in most genres, a novella is from 15,000 to 30,000 words. In science fiction and fantasy, a novella is from 17,500 words to 40,000 words. This, too, is a rule, and you have to adjust pace, flow, and all else to fit within these guidelines.

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shadowwalker
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Re: Questions about writing a novella.

Postby shadowwalker » Sat May 21, 2016 6:31 pm

"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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Loren Killdeer
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Re: Questions about writing a novella.

Postby Loren Killdeer » Thu May 26, 2016 4:21 pm

Best of lucks with your novella! Its amazing how you find something so big inside yout head, where you thought there only was a short story!

And its awesome to read what the other thinks, helps you to know more and better.
See you!
“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
― Mark Twain



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