In preparation for launching Moonburner in a few months, I am drafting a short e-novella to accompany it. It will be a story that takes place in the same world as Moonburner and features a few of the same characters, and I plan to give it away for free to folks who sign up for my email list.

I’m about 5,000 words in and hit a bump in the road. I’ve never attempted to write short stories or novellas, so I wasn’t sure what the typical structure looked like. Time for some research!

What is a Novella?

A novella is a short novel, typically between 15,000-30,000 words. (To put that in perspective, the industry estimates 250 words per page, so a novella might come in at 60-120 pages).

Novellas are popular because they are easy and quick to write, and easy and quick to read! For traditionally published authors, writing a novella might give fans an opportunity to get another little taste of the world they enjoy while waiting for the next book in a series. For self-published authors, they are an easy entry-point for readers, as a new reader might be more likely to give $.99  and a few hours to a new author, while they wouldn’t commit to the time and price of a full-sized book. Novellas also are a great way for writers to share interesting characters and stories that didn’t make it past the editing round in the main novel.

How to Write a Novella?

A novella still needs a story-line and story arc, but it is just a miniature version of the novel. This great article by Paul Alan Fahey explains the three-act structure as follows:

  • Act I, Set Up: Introduces setting, characters and the main story conflict or the inciting incident.
  • Plot Point 1: The first major turning point or event that closes the first act and moves the characters into…
  • Act II, Confrontation: The main character struggles to achieve his/her goal amid ever increasing obstacles.
  • Midpoint: A subtle turning point in the plot midway through the story.
  • Plot Point 2: A devastating setback or reversal in the main character’s fortune that leads to…
  • Act III, Resolution: The final confrontation and highest point of action (climax) before the character reaches goal.

Alright, that’s pretty do-able. It’s the direction I was headed, but it helps to have some confirmation! It’s actually kind of refreshing to write a novella, I can focus in a straightforward way on the main plot without all of those pesky sub-plots and side characters to distract me. I’m shooting to getting this one done by the end of the month. We’ll see how it goes!

Featured photo: Scott Akerman,


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