Thursday, June 19, 2014

How I'm using Novellas to bridge book-writing time

This is really strange and I bet I’m the only person in the world who does this; but hear me out here.  Before diving head first into the actual writing of my second book in a proposed trilogy, I have started writing a novella....

A novella that takes place in the period between books 1 and 2 but is very separate from.   The other day I mentioned how I was playing and practicing with different points of view. This novella idea has given the opportunity to play around with a specific end goal in sight. Moreover, it allows me to keep my characters and world refined while I inch at research for my second book.
Paget illustration from the Five Orange Pips
I am finding it remarkably helpful.   I am fine-tuning my writing ( every time I write I get better at things: this comes from feedback, this comes from practice, this comes from actually completing projects I start ) and spending time with characters I missed while allowing me to feel that amazing, whirling-dervish feeling you get when their dialogue sparks and crackles and they begin speaking on their own.   To add, more and more publishers are introducing writers through novellas and series through novellas and having read quite a few of them ( Deanna Raybourn's, for example, Sarah Thomas' most recent) I have familiarized myself with their limitations of word count.

For my genre ( kinda detective story: hefty on the relationship aspect), novellas are a prime way to meet characters in different situations that are still authentic to my mapped trilogy timeline; while loosening a few ends that allows me to play on a smaller canvas.   Doyle’s short stories are a massive inspiration for this.  You got just enough action, just enough character development, and just enough Sherlock spotlight to keep you going.  Also, Doyle was able to marginalize his action and still pack an emotional punch.  While staying within the rubrics of short story metric, he still penned The Adventure of the Three Garridebs, for example and The Final Problem: both which are quite robust given the limitations of their word count.

So it’s a strange way to do things: write novellas that, like my trilogy, may never see the public light of day; but it’s exercise, it’s keeping in shape so that when I do mount full-on work of book II  (research is in embryo and so is outlining), all of it will be crisp and fresh in my mind.

My novella: Jem and Merinda investigate a murder at a policeman's baseball league game! awesome because i write while watching my Jays :)


Gina said...

You amazing novella-writer, you!!

Unknown said...

Hi Rachel,

I think it's an excellent idea to attempt this novella. I have never heard of one being written in between novels, most of the novellas I've read take place before or after the series, but, why not? Besides the writing practice, there's something magical about writing in shorter form that as you said, brings your focus into a laser. I often have difficulty with my longer novels and when I do, I stop, write something short and unrelated, then storyboard it for the visual form and return with a fresh tank of fuel. There's no "right " way really except for the one that works for you. Sara

Rachel said...

thanks for the encouragement, Sara and Gina. Sara, I have no trouble writing longer novels because I am SO long-winded :)