Tuesday, December 4

On Writing Beginnings ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

I just put a novella to bed. Novellas aren't my favorite thing to write, mostly because I seem to forget, in the beginning stages, that novellas don't need enough conflict to fill up a full-length, 80,000 word book. So I get to what would be the approximate mid-point of a full-length book and realize I'm supposed to be wrapping up the resolution. Then it's back to the story board to figure out what I've done.

Nine times out of ten, it's that conflict thing. Instead of giving my characters a nice, little, can-be-solved-in-30,000-words conflict I've given them the darkest, blackest, Mount Everest of a conflict. It's so frustrating. I should know better, and yet every time I sit down to write a novella I get to a certain point and realize that what I've written is the beginning of a full-length book...and that's not going to work for the particular parameters of that project.

I don't have any great advice on how to not have to restart a novella fifteen times because of a too-big conflict problem. But I do have advice on starting them over.

1. Throw the whole thing out. Not just the too-big-conflict. Keep the characters, keep their backstories, but throw out the meet-cute and the GMCs and the plot points. These are all tied in to that too-big conflict, and if you try to whittle them down you're going to frustrate yourself, become deflated, and not want to write the book at all.

2. Think about one specific part of each character's backstory to find an area that is similar. Not the same, but similar. How can Hero Backstory B help heal Heroine Backstory A and vice versa? That specific problem is what you can fix in the novella.

3. Remember the KISS principle. Keep It Simple, Silly. Boy meets Girl. Boy Likes Girl. Girl Likes Boy. Confronting X leads Girl and Boy to their HEA.

In my novella, my heroine was always the person who bent - she sacrificed for her family, her job, her friends. She wasn't a doormat, but she would drop anything to help a friend out. She had to learn to stand up and ask - or maybe lightly demand - what she wanted/needed. My hero? He was made of unbendable material. He had plans and his plans had plans and when an event was on his calendar, it was written in stone. He needed to learn to bend a little (see how those conflicts work together?).

And now you're wondering what this quote from Hope Floats has to do with novella writing...nothing, really. It's just a quote I really love, and I think it's defines romance books (novels, novellas, sagas, shorts) really well. Because the romance isn't the beginning or the end of a hero or heroine's life. It's the middle, the good part...and don't we all love the good parts? 



  1. A great post. I love writing novellas simply because I DON'T love conflict! :-)

    1. ..and that's why I *should* like them...and, yet!!! lolol

      Thanks for coming by, Liz!

  2. Love this post -- perfect advice. And Hope Floats is one of my favorite romantic comedies. ;-)

  3. I'm with Liz...I should just write novellas because I have the worst time coming up with genuine conflict. Sorry for the late comment, I still can't comment from my phone and I don't get on the actual computer much. Great post!

  4. Getting the conflict just right is difficult no matter what length you write. And matching the length of the story, the difficulty of conflict, and how the h/h help heal each other is SO tricky. Congrats to you for figuring it out, even if you had to start all over!