Publishing My First Novella!
AFTER PUBLISHING A FEW short story collections, I wanted to write stories that were a bit on the longer side. I took a camping trip with my daughter a year and a half ago, and that gave me some worthy ideas for a spooky novella for young readers. I got right to work, and the novella was finished in about four months.
My kids routinely bring books home from their elementary school library that are about 100 pages in length, so I suppose that publishing my 20,000 word novella as a standalone book would have been acceptable. But the manuscript just seemed too short. It was definitely not complete. There were more stories that I wanted included in the book, so I kept on writing. The finished manuscript consisted of a novella, with four additional stories. Emma and the Starry Night was published this month!
I had anticipated that writing a novella would be a completely different experience than writing short stories, but that did not turn out to be the case. I stuck with my typical routine, which is to simply sit down without any real plan or outline and start writing. The only significant difference was that with my novella, I had much more room to breathe and develop the characters and to go into tedious detail when creating scenes. My novella is about four kids on a camping trip who sneak out of their tents in the middle of the night and encounter a dark and haunted house sitting atop an abandoned hill. I had plenty of space to describe the house, inject dialogue among the four youngsters, and then finally, create a terrifying scene when one of them is swept away by a ghostly inhabitant of the haunted mansion. Although I still enjoy writing short fiction, I must admit it was nice to have all that literary space to play with.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of writing a novella. I’m not sure whether I will ever write a novel, as reaching the 60,000 word mark on any single story still seems quite daunting to me. But then again, I suppose a novella is a step in the right direction. If you’re a fiction who is intimidated by the challenge of writing a novel, consider writing a novella first. After all, us fiction writers survive by taking one baby step after another, don’t we?
J.S. Lender’s new novella + short story collection for young readers, Emma and the Starry Night, is on sale now!