Celebrating East African Writing!

How to Write a Novella – Storymoja Writers’ Blog

So two weeks ago we looked into Novellas, even marked off a few titles. I am sure that after we had talked about it, you went in search of other titles that fit under the Novella Category. Just in case you missed out on that conversation have a look at The Woman Who Waited – Writing Novellas.

So where do you start?

Well, perhaps you are wondering which genres would do well as Novellas.

Science fiction, romance, fantasy, crime fiction, hard core noir, and the in betweens, basically any genre or category that can be told in 10000 to 70000 words. Just to prove this, do you remember Raymond Chandler, Elmore Leonard, Chester Himes, Mickey Spillane, Ross Macdonald, John D. MacDonald, Robert B. Parker, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Walter Mosley? No? Look them up! But I bet you know all about Agatha Christie, James Hardley Chase, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Mills & Boons Franchise, even Stephen King horror stories… this list could go on and on.

Alright, so you have your idea, what now?

Let’s start with the Setting.

Because of the brevity of this category of writing, the setting is just as important as the plot line. So decide on an interesting setting. Work on the descriptions, have it clear in your head, because if you can see it, the better you will be able to help your reader see it.

When we talk about setting, we are talking about the time and the place. Think about it, if you are writing about an adventure that is complicated by storms, you want to describe the rain, the cold and the thunderstorms as much you want to describe the rugged hillsides and flooding valleys. But you can’t place a storm in a time of year when the little corner of Western Province where you’ve set your story is usually as dry as the Sahara. And you can’t talk about rugged hillsides when you’ve set your story in the great flat bushlands. So think about it, have fun with it. The more you enjoy it, the more your reader will.

And just so you know, I am afraid of thunderstorms. That’s probably why I read horror stories set during stormy nights J

What about the Pace? We already know that the Novella has a shorter length than a novel. So does the story have to go very fast or can it be more relaxed?

That’s up to you. But shorter stories work best when the antagonists and protagonists are clear and the conflicts between them are set out. The more conflicts there are, the faster the pace of the story. Be careful not to rush your reader along so fast that at the end of the story they are left with a feeling of anticlimax.

Which brings us to the next point. Structure. Whether short or long, a story needs a plot. It needs to have a beginning, a rising action, a climax, a falling action and an ending.

Start with plotting out the story from the beginning to the end. You can do this in point forms. And don’t worry this plot is not written in stone, as you go along you might find the need to change certain things and that is ok.

On your plot line, now mark the rising action – this is the point when conflict arises. Then mark the climax – the point at which this conflict reaches its absolute peak, do or die, adrenaline rush… Then mark the falling action – the point when resolution of the conflict begins to happen.

Once you have these points, it shouldn’t be too hard for you to see how to introduce the story – works best if you immediately introduce the main character and his issues. The conclusion should offer resolution for the reader, allow him or her to now let go of the characters and hope for the best. As you might have deduced from the previous sentence, not all resolutions are ‘happily-ever-after’ resolutions.

So get started now, write that story you have always wanted to read!

And with that allow us to send you to this week’s reading.

The first piece is a longer short story that is not quite a novella.

Stones Bounce on Water – A Short Story by Dilman Dila.

The second piece is a shorter piece with an title that made me want to read it.

A Repulsive Beauty by Henry Kamundi

Both of these pieces are not up for voting, as they will be put up on the main Storymoja Blog for longer exhibit. Please read and comment on both stories to let the authors know what you think of their work.

Next week’s genre of writing is Urban Fiction. Please send in your work to by Sunday 17th, April 2010.






This entry was posted on April 11, 2011 by in Writer's Blog.
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