Today I’m happy to be part of the Grimm Chronicles Book Tour with Christine Haggerty, Author of The Grimm Chronicles. I’ll be sharing a little about Christine, the first book in her series, Pretty Things, and a book trailer, as well as a guest post written by Christine called Nailing the Novella.
Christine Nielson Haggerty grew up in rural Utah with three brothers, a sister, several chickens, a goat, and an outhouse. She always loved the escape of fantasy and the art of writing, and her passion for life is to craft stories of strength and survival.
As a former high school language arts teacher and a black belt in karate, Christine has found a niche in combining those skills to help authors write effective fight scenes.
An award-winning young adult author, she is now launching her dark fantasy fairytale novella series The Grimm Chronicles.
Connect with Christine
When Maddie’s father catches her with a boy, he hauls her into town in a pig wagon and finds her a husband. But Peter’s cabin in the woods promises something very different than Maddie’s happily ever after.
Pretty Things, a retelling of “The Robber Bridegroom,” is the first novella in the Grimm Chronicles series. Warning: not your granny’s fairytales!
Nailing the Novella
Christine Haggerty, Author of The Grimm Chronicles: Pretty Things
Novellas offer a unique story length that has the simplicity of a single story line and the advantage of more space for details and world-building. This story length, just like a short story or novel, requires planning from the beginning in order for it to feel just right.
Novellas can range from 15,000 to 40,000 words. The planning (and I’m an outliner, but you can sort of do this by ‘feel’) must include a complete plot arc with characters and setting/context developed enough to support that story line.
My novellas are around 20,000 words, so we’ll do the math based on that. Novellas are shorter, which means their chapters should be shorter. My novels of 75,000+ words have roughly 30 chapters that range from 1800 words to 3300 words. Average is somewhere around 2500 words. That’s how much space I have to complete a plot beat in the story. For a novella of 20,000 words, I cut the number of chapters in half and then the average word length in half again to hit roughly a 1200 word chapter length.
That’s the rough math for length. Now let’s talk about the story. The biggest mistake I see in short stories and novellas I read for people is that they try to write a story within a larger world they have created in their head and the shorter piece reads more like a chapter—something incomplete—rather than its own story.
Is the novella a stand-alone story? Is it part of a bigger, epic world? You need to understand why you are writing the story and what advantages/disadvantages that involves. If it’s part of a bigger world, your challenge is to make it not just a piece of something but complete on its own. If it’s a stand-alone, you need to make sure you build the world enough to host the plot.
Novellas give you a chance to pack it full of the good stuff. Don’t hold back. Spend it everywhere you can and trust me—you’ll come up with more.
Now consider why you’re writing a shorter piece than a novel. Is this to advertise a world you have in a series of novels? Is it supposed to sell as a novel? Is it to lure in readers as a gateway to your writing style? Is it what you’re good at and you plan to make your entire career as a novella writer?
My purpose for writing novellas is to give readers a fun, inexpensive way to get a taste for my writing. They are stand-alone stories that are sassy and fun and accessible. In short, advertising.
Novellas aren’t as long as full-length novels and by that reasoning probably shouldn’t be priced the same, but that all depends on how cool you are. More established authors can charge more for everything they do because they have the fan base who will pay for it. The bottom line is that you still need a professional cover and formatting and publishing overall without possibly the same return on investment because your product is not priced as high. On the flip side, your story might travel farther because it’s less money to purchase and readers may be more willing to take a gamble trying you out.
Now go for it. Write that epic little story, polish it up, and share it with the world.