The Art of Short Story and Novella Writing
Savvy Writer’s Book #2
By Kim Knight
Genre: Self-Help, Writing, Nonfiction
Compared to novel writing, short stories and novellas need special and different skills that every writer should master. Readers love shorter stories! From Kim Knight, the award-winning and number #1 best-selling author of 365 Days of Writing Prompts for Romance writers, The Art of Short Story and Novella Writing writer’s reference is perfect for both seasoned and aspiring writers of all genres. The Art of Short Story and Novella Writing will help you perfect, sharpen, and increase your skills and abilities when writing engaging shorter stories, novellas, or novelettes for both stand-alone and series stories. With detailed and practical steps, the sole aim of this guide is to help writers confidently write within a high demand and well-paid market. With easy-to-engage-with chapters, discover the practical art of short story and novella writing. The Art of Short Story and Novella Writing includes practical exercises to help you master the skills to write your next series of stories:
•Story-telling styles for short stories: how and why it should differentiate from novel writing. •Character development with limited word count. •Strengthening themes and plots with limited word count. •Where and how to start a shorter story to capture reader’s attention. •Creating compelling stories with peaks and satisfying endings for readers, with a small word count. •Learn about the market, paid writing contests, and where to submit shorter stories.
Each chapter has a dedicated writing space for every practical exercise, and for plotting your ideas and characters. Writing compelling shorter stories with meaning, and well developed characters is not easy! But, with The Art of Short Story and Novella Writing, you will ramp up your skills set and become a master of the technique. Note: the paperback will allow writers to make notes, carry out the exercises, and throw away the hundreds of notepads us writers have sitting around.
Available in e-book ( $2.99) and paperback ($5.99) , audio version on its way!
So, you’ve plotted your story from start to finish, and no doubt included some of the back- story for characters and the plot. Good start. Now it’s time to work out the organisation of your story, and where you will start from. Yes, that’s right, writer! Try to actually focus your story to the section you wish to start from. ‘But hold up, Kim. I just plotted the whole story, now you’re telling me I won’t include it all?’ I hear you say. The short answer is yes, the long answer is yes and no. Let me break it down. With short stories we need to first focus the storytelling style, characters, and plot as we did in steps one, two, and three. Then yep, narrow it down again to where you will start from. I recommend this as no doubt you have some backstory. Here in step four we decide what to do with it, how to tell it, and most importantly where to start with a bang! Literally. The key is to think about how much of the story has already happened, and what you wish to show of that (backstory) vs where to jump in right away.
Note: I will break this down into two methods. First, for short stories and flash fiction and second, for works that are slightly longer such as novellas or novelettes. For the purposes of this book, short stories are from 1-12,000 words, with novellas, and novelettes from 12,001-40,000 words.
Short Story: Start
Start: introduce your characters here as a top tip, rather than start with backstory or even description; place your characters right bang smack middle of all the action. Start your story off active, rather than with lots of description, passive or backstory. This may mean that you don’t start at the start, but you start with a scene…yes… you with me now? Good. I hope you can see the benefit of this. Look below.
Detective Brown had spent the last three hours watching the CCTV footage. Now he’s convinced it’s time to make an arrest. Last night another body showed up. A white female no older than what he assumed to be twenty-five, was found dumped in the canal. He checked his watch, it was already 11.30a.m, the coroner’s report was late. He requested that it be on his desk by 8.00a.m. He sighed, rubbed his temples, then picked up the phone, he pressed speed dial to reach Detective Smith.
Example One: Remix!
Detective Smith snatched up the phone on the first ring, “What’s up?” He balanced the phone on his shoulder, while his fingers danced over his keyboard.
“Looks like I’ve got him.”
On the other end of the phone, Detective Brown glanced at mugshots of the suspects pinned on the wall. “Three hours I’ve poured over this footage, I can’t believe I missed it at first.”
“Good, time to make an arrest then, you got the coroner’s report?”
“Nah, not yet, I’m still waiting?”
“What the fuck are these people doing, didn’t you say 8.00a.m.?”
“Yeah, but they’re probably backed up. This is the third body to show up in twenty-four hours.”
Detective Brown sighed impatiently into the phone. “But what I can say is the victim’s about twenty-five, a white female.”
With raised eyebrows, Detective Smith stopped typing, then pulled the phone closer to him. “Was she found in the same place?”
“Yep, dumped in the canal. A dog walker found her.”
“Uh-oh, man this is getting outta control. We need to pin this mutha-fucker down!”
You can hopefully see what I mean by starting your story off with action, placing your character in a scene, dialogue, event, or location—something to draw in a reader, as opposed to starting with description and you, the author, narrating. I’ve given you the same information as in example one, but in a better way to help kick start this paragraph. The trick is to, where possible, start off your short story with something happening, work with a lean word count, draw readers in so they feel like they are there too, and keep them engaged. Open with a bang! Shock! And ‘oh, my what’s going on here?’
Exercise: Have a play with the start of your story. Pick a scene or some kind of action and start it off there. Or just write a simple paragraph of fiction as I did, and remix it from example one— narrative and telling, to action and active. What are you waiting for? Let’s write that starting scene.
Kim was born in 1983 and from London in the UK. She's a mother to a beautiful little boy, and a proud award-winning author (awarded Best Romance 2017 for A Stranger in France), and #1 Best-Selling Author (365 Days of Writing Prompts for Romance Writers). She's also a contribution writer at Aspiring Authors Magazine LLC. Kim started her journey as a traditionally published author and later dived into self-publishing also.
As a reader she's head over heels in love with romance, historical fiction, crime fiction, African- American, suspense and thriller genre books. As a writer, Kim enjoys creating stories with a diverse and multi-cultural line up, within the romance, romantic suspense and general thriller and crime genres. When she's not reading, or writing stories of her own her other passions include practising her French, astrology, fashion, make-up artistry, drawing, spending time at her sewing machine dressmaking, watching make -up and beauty tutorials on YouTube, letter writing and being a mum.