Monday, March 12, 2012

Writing Novels vs The Short Stuff


Hey everyone! Hope you guys are great. This weeks marks a very special event in my life - the prelaunch tour for my debut into YA fiction, LACRIMOSA. Yes, I have a novella out already. But I really consider my novel to be my first big venture into YA. Be sure to check out my other blog and my tour to learn about the novel, the series, and get in on many fabulous giveaways.

But first, this post. In preparing the series to go to print, my publisher and I decided to introduce readers to the world of Celestium and my angels through a prequel novella, DIES IRAE. We wanted something under 100 pages that we would price incredibly low. The novella format seemed to meet that need - almost.

What do I mean by that? Let me start by explaining what a novella actually is. Strictly speaking, a novella is longer than a novelette and shorter than a novel. It averages 15-40K in length. The storyline is far more complex than a short story, but far less complex than a novel. There are typically less plotlines and less conflict than in a novel, and the story typically ends at the brink of change. Most of the “novels” we were required to read in school—titles like Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, and The War of the Worlds—are actually novellas. The same is true of some other novels we have come to love—Coraline, A Christmas Carole, and The Metamorphosis.

Now that we have a definition of a novella, how did I go about writing DIES IRAE. Honestly, exactly the same way I write a novel. I stewed on the storyline I wanted to tell, planned out the beats, and started to write. I originally planned on staying with one central plot—the romance between two of the characters. But I failed. Miserably. So, I added back my secondary plot thread as it was THE motivation behind one of the central character’s actions.

As much as the process of drafting and editing a novella was essentially similar to that of a novel, there were some differences that made me work—hard!  For one, there was the whole world building, character building piece. There is no room for excess of each, leaving my early drafts a combination of too wordy in some places, and too vague in others. I’m certain it drove my poor beta readers crazy. My edits consisted of pouring over the language over and over and over again, carefully choosing each and every word, each and every scene, each and every cadence. Much like writing poetry, there was no room for lazy language or lazy story telling.

Some people have really enjoyed the novella, others have not. And the main frustration from those that have not embraced DIES IRAE has had to do with depth and length - both things inherent in the genre. Hopefully readers will feel more satisfied with LACRIMOSA. I guess time will tell on that front.

In the end, I have discovered a love for both formats - shorts and novels. And I have no doubt you will be seeing more novelettes, novellas, and novels with this series.

What do you guys think? Do you have a preference between novels and the short stuff? What about teen readers? Do you think they have a preference?

1 comment:

Sandra Cox said...

I love the cover of Lacrimosa. Congrats!