- Keep your characters, locations, and plot to a minimum. Remember, a novella is a simple story, simply told. In my novella THE BET (Secrets, Volume 27, Red Sage Publishing) the entire story takes place over one weekend at a Victorian country house. Besides the hero and heroine, I’ve included only one other character -- the heroine’s brother, who is the antagonist and the catalyst for the story. He sets the entire tale in motion when he manipulates the hero into an outrageous wager. THE BET has one setting, one major conflict, two main characters, and one antagonist. The perfect recipe for a novella.
- Include an absolute minimum of back story. Tell your readers only what they need to know to make them understand your characters’ motivations. For example, in THE DISCIPLINARIAN, my hero Jared, the shadowy legend of the title, has never failed to turn a difficult wife into a dutiful spouse -- but not in the way their husbands expect. Years ago, Jared’s sister had been beaten to death by her spouse, so Jared now feels an obligation to help other women avoid the same fate. Clarissa, in this story, is that woman. So you see how I’ve used a tiny bit of back story to explain Jared’s altruistic motivation. That’s all you need.
Leonidas Danae Vorenus, commander of Rome’s prestigious Sixth legion, is ordered to establish a strategic outpost in Gaul after its surrender to Julius Caesar. But on the way to his new post, Leonidas is seriously wounded in an ambush. Only one person can save his life, and she’s his sworn enemy.
However, the relationship between conqueror and conquered soon evolves into much more. Solange and Leo’s forced intimacy ignites an unexpected attraction, and prompts the two enemies to look beyond the reason for their hatred to explore the equally powerful emotion simmering underneath.
So. As you can see, I’ve used one major
conflict, two main characters, and one antagonist to create the ideal structure
for a novella. Once you’ve learned the formula, the stories practically write
themselves. Your job is simply to come up with an interesting idea!