Why You Should Write a Novella as a Writer in Training and How to Prepare for it

What should I do as a fiction writer in training?

That question hunted me a lot. Many people suggest starting from writing short stories, me included. It can help you become familiar with a craft and finish a few stories in a relatively short time. For the start, maybe the first few months, it is a good thing to write short stories.

But what after? What to do if you want to be a novelist? If I don’t feel like I’m ready to write a novel, because it’s an enormous commitment, even an overwhelming one. What should be my first step towards bigger stories?

Well, the heading already spoilered the answer. Today we will think about reasons to write a novella and how to prepare yourself for success in that journey as a writer in training.

Reasons to write a Novella

Short answer:

  • Length.
  • Easier to manage.
  • The same work process as with novels.
  • Feeling of working on something bigger.

Now the long one.

The Length

The length. It’s the same reason you start from writing short stories. The shorter the story you want to tell, the faster you finish it, if you work consistently.

Managing the Story

Continuing the length trope, the shorter your project the easier to manage it. It’s just a matter of fact. Novella with word count between 20000–40000 is easier to manage. Your work cycles would be shorter with novella than with a novel. It’s important because now you are only learning to write a book. Faster you can repeat the process, the better.

Writing Process

Speaking of a process. Process of writing a novella is the same as if it was with a bigger novel. Right now I am literally using the same advice that fellow authors gave you about writing a novel.

Writing process is scaling, it’s the same starting from short stories up to the epic novels. Only thing that changes, it’s a challenge that you meet while creating a story. It’s wise to meet similar challenges at a smaller scale while writing a novella.

Feeling of working on something big

You feel it. When you start to work on a novella, you glimpse what it would be like to work on a novel. It’s spacious. It’s a lot of space. In fact, it couched me off guard. I have a lot of room to immerse myself and readers into the story. Though the scale of the story is not big enough to lose in it and keep in the head, all lessons learned previously. But now I can imagine what it would be like to work on a novel.

So we have it. Four reasons authors in training should consider trying to write a novella as your first big story. It’s not the rule that you should do exactly that, but a suggestion of direction. Now let’s think how we as authors could prepare ourselves for that journey.

How to prepare yourself

How do I make preparations for the Novella writing process?

Deadlines

I dislike them, they usually hinder me. But without a deadline, I become too relaxed and lazy. So, that dreaded line on the calendar is a necessary evil, I suppose. Trick is in setting a reasonable deadline.

Think about how big of a story you wanna tell and how complex it would be. Then wage how effectively you worked on your stories so far. Circle the date on the calendar when you assume that you can finish the story. That’s all. Now try to meet the deadline.

Roadmap

Reasonable roadmap of story development. That part of preparation goes toe to toe with setting a deadline. Break novella writing on stages.

I include following stages:

  • Preparation
  • Organization (deadlines, roadmap, etc. )
  • Pre-work on story (plot outline, world-building, character profiles, etc. )
  • Draft 0 (The foundation. Tell yourself a story)
  • Draft 1 (Now show it to yourself.)
  • Draft 2 (Add a little more style and more showing.)
  • Draft 3 (Think about subplots, character relations, etc. Details.)
  • Draft 4 (Final Draft. Groom and Edit Until it’s Done. )

That way I can keep tracking my writing progress and set individual deadlines for each stage. Don’t worry if you do not meet individual deadlines and make a mistake in your roadmap. You are a writer in the learning process, so it’s fine.

Pre-Work

(Author note. Pre-work it’s kinda already work stages, but because I don’t work on manuscript yet, I call it the pre-work stage for sake of organization ).

Depending on the genre you write in, you will work differently on your Pre-Work stage. But despite differences of genre, you would work on characters, profiles, on plot outline, and world-building. Order on which you will do those components of Pre-Work is up to you, work in order you feel comfortable with.

Let’s take a short pick on those three.

Plot outline.

Rough explanation of the story events in bullet points. While working on my novella I do it scene by scene and leave a comment where it is a good place to end or start a chapter.

Outline is a map of your story. You can swap scenes with one another, add more in between, or remove one that didn’t work out. It’s a good way to keep track of what is happening, but you probably already know that.

Word Building

That part has a strong dependency on the genre you write in. In contemporary novella, you mostly will work on portraying the location and period of story that represent modern days.

In the fantasy genre you can create a whole new world with its own laws of physics, magic and races. Be careful to not spend too much time at that stage. Work on what is relevant for your story and what will add flavor to it, and maybe a little over it. But only a little.

Characters

That part is the most important. No matter if you have a cool plot or magnificent world, if your characters are boring it’s game over.

I usually have two files to work with. “Character working ideas” where I throw any crazy stuff that could be useful for that being, including plot points, fight styles, clothing styles, etc. Second, is “Character profile” where I solidify those ideas.

Put a lot of work for your characters and don’t be scary to make them flaw full; it’s making them alive.

Conclusion

So you have it! Now you know why to write a novella and how to prepare yourself. Let’s make a little recap before you go.

Novella, it’s a good practice source for writers in training. It’s shorter, it’s more manageable. It gave you the feeling of working on something big.

It isn’t so hard to prepare yourself to write a novella. Set a deadline, make a roadmap, then work on meeting writing goals.

Thank you for your attention and I wish you luck with your learning process of writing marvelous fictional stories!

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Ash Blackmoore

Ash Blackmoore

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