As many of you know, I write novellas, which seem to be averaging out at about 35,000 words. Not a long story, but I find it perfect for a nice weekend read or for quick flicks during the week if too busy to find time to really devour a longer novel.
This shorter form of writing suits me perfectly, and it’s one of the reasons I decided I could find a career in writing.
But, having said that, there are draw backs, the quick advancement of character relationships being one of them.
I write romance, which I enjoy very much, I love building up relationships all whilst telling a story about the characters which only helps to encourage the romance on further. It gives me a chance to tell a story in different sub-genres, whilst also adding that love-element, which I just adore and can’t get enough of.
I just never realised how difficult it would be to build up a believable relationship within the shorter word count.
The actual plots to my stories, the conflict and interest, I can resolve in that shorter amount of time and, hopefully, rather well. Yet the romance aspect is a lot harder.
In order for the character’s love to feel solid and well-developed it takes time, as all relationships do. So, how can I achieve this in so short a time?
One thing I discussed on Facebook with winterbayne and Taylor Grace was the time-skip. Skipping over weeks or months and writing about what happened during that time and how the character’s relationship has grown. I think this is a viable option; they do it all the time in tv and movies, why not books?
Another is, ‘instant love’, and I am not quite as much a fan on this. It’s ok when written well, and I am all for love-at-first-sight, just not so much the idea of ripping-each-other’s-clothes-off-at-first-sight. I prefer my romances to have a little build-up.
And then there is the already established relationship. I have this kind in my current novella and my word! Is it ever hard to write.
On first reading the novella, there is already an established relationship between two of my characters, and this is surprisingly hard to make feel real without adding chapters and chapters of back story, which I really don’t want to do. I want the reader to feel for the love between these two characters, but achieving that is a little more difficult than I first thought.
I know there are many more relationship and types of romance then this; these are just the ones I have really thought about in-depth whilst starting my writing path. Seeing as this is an honest blog, I thought I best to be honest about the struggles I have with writing as well as the triumphs.
I guess I will have to look into it further: read some more romance, watch some romantic movies… It’s a tough job all that research 🙂
Have you written a romance? How did you develop your relationship to feel real? Which is your favourite tool for writing romance? Any tips you care to share? 😀
Word Count: 782 (just adding bits now, pretty much everything is down on the page).
Status of Second Manuscript: Writing first draft (So very nearly done!).
February E-Book Review: Writing review.
That’s one of the reasons I find it hard to write novellas. If I don’t think it’s realistic, then how can I expect others to?
One thing you could do in combination with the ‘time skip’ is to make sure they have lives elsewhere, especially since your characters already know each other.
I think readers are more conscious of things happening too quickly when every scene includes the two main characters and all they do is think about their relationship. Again that is difficult to do in the novella format.
True, good advice. I definately have to plot things out carefully when writing, especially when romance so in the forefront of this story.
Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂
I don’t read romances as much as I did in the past, but I’m not a fan of instant love. My favourite romances are Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, and Noah and Allie (The Notebook). The time-skip sounds like a great idea.
Darcy and Elizabeth… *swoon* One of my all time favourites 😀 I watched the BBC (6 hour long) Pride and Prejudice on Friday, I forgot how good it was!
Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂
I know! I like the one with Matthew MacFadyen and Keira Knightley as the leads. When he says to her that she has bewitched him heart and soul, and that he loves, loves, loves her (he just had to say it more than once), my heart melts.
I can’t help comparing how he bared his soul to her like that, in the rain, at sunrise, while Mr. Collins proposed to her in front of a leg of lamb! LOL!
Oh, Mr Collins, now there’s a well-written character. He really gives off the exact right feel of creepy, slime-ball! 😀
As well as my novels, i’ve also published couple of books of short stories (stories range between 3’000 and 10’000) and i greatly enjoy writing in that format, as you really have to concentrate on the character interaction.
Have you ever thought about writing a story that occurs in a space of say 8 hours? A lot can happen in 8 hours and if you only have 5’000 words then you have to make every word, emotion, smile, frown and tear count : )
That’s intriguing. Along the lines of 24 Hours.
Hi Jacqui : ) Following the theme of hours, how about a 4 or 5 hour train journey? The couple meet as they take their seats, they talk, etc etc, An entire story could easily be told in 5’000 to 10’000 words. Just an Idea.
I have never thought of that, but what a good exercise that would be for practice! Definitely going to have to do this.
Thanks for the advice, it will be put to good use 🙂
Clever that, the time skip. I’ve seen books skip big chunks of time–the Tony Hill TV series does that (quite unusual for a TV series). It works.
I don’t mind time skips, but now I have to learn how to write them so as they work right 😀 Definitely will have to do some research into this.
Thanks for dropping by and commenting 🙂
I haven’t written a romance per se before but I have written novellas so I know what you mean about sometimes finding it difficult to make relationships and even strong friendships feel authentic.
Most of my stories centre around some kind of extreme or difficult situation and luckily I think that helps. People – as in real life – are drawn closer together in hard times as they seek comfort and empathy from those who understand how they feel. I suppose the same could work in a romance: Two people meet amidst awful circumstances and in the process of trying to help each other cope, they fall in love…
Anyway, another good post! 🙂
Dramatic circumstances are a great way for getting characters together, and as emotions are usually heightened during that time, makes sense people would get closer, quicker, as you say. Great point!
Thanks for commenting, really appreciated 🙂
I think going into narrative is the best solution for WC constraints? My problem stems more from the fact that I tend to go to narrative quite a bit, but can never really fit a story into novella WC and yet I’m just short of the expected WC for my genre. In writing romance, I agree that the development of the relationship is important or it leaves the readers unsatisfied. Personally, I’d rather read about the “time gap” for stuff that happened but the writer didn’t go into details for. Btw, I nominated you for the Liebster Award. I hope you’ll accept it. If you do, just check out my blog for the rules and questions you have to answer. Yes, more work for you! LOL. Sorry for the long comment!
Great comment, working within word counts is a struggle at times!
Developing relationships and characters is a focus in my novellas, as that is what I enjoy to read so I may as well write it 😀 Just now need to get into the practice of putting it in a shorter length.
Thank you so much! I definitely will accept, I will pop over to your blog now to take a look. Now I’m all smiles 😀
I’ve stuck to novels so far, and I find it hard enough to get some aspects across in that venue. Can’t imagine how much more difficult it would be for short stories or novellas. Thanks for giving me something to chew on that I hadn’t thought about before. 🙂
Well, I hope it is a useful thing to consider 😀 Even if I was writing novel length books, I might still struggle!
Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂
Movie: One Fine Day…the “love” happens in one day.
Instant love is a no go for me. I doubt readers want it. The characters have to PROVE they love one another in a romance.
Already love…in an established relationship they may have some issues and fall in love all over again. Much easier to write in a few pages.
I’d suggest analyzing short romance that you enjoyed. Find out what the writer did right.
I really will have to read some more short romances, been doing my book review books which aren’t romance at the moment.
Great advice though, look to see how others manage to do it 🙂
Hey also remember at the end of the story they don’t have to confess soul searing in love type of feelings. The reader knows it’s love even if the character’s don’t say it.
It’s not necessary, and I do like some of the more subtle, obvious romances. Though sometimes I do enjoy a good declaration of love in a dramatic way 😀
Perhaps you could research short films, which deal with the same issue. It’s a great topic, btw, not just for short story writing. I always want to jump into my story as fast as possible. I write romantic suspense and I don’t want to spend chapters making myself or the reader care about the main character. So, great topic to get us thinking. In short films, it seems to have a lot to do with the conflict of the story. Universal conflicts, with a unique twist, can pull in readers fast. The audience is able to bring their own life-experiences to the story. I know that won’t work for all plotting, but could help with a contemporary story. The lesson I learned about what makes a good short film is the ending. All the best ones set up a situation and then have a very shocking ending. So, plotting that kind of short story does not start with knowing your characters, but the ending you want to deliver to your audience. Perhaps coming at your story from that angle will help you feel for your characters faster? Anyway, it will be interesting to see how you work through this writing challenge. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog!
That is some great advice, looking at it from the ending and then working back, I will have to try that.
I enjoy getting into the action too, which is why I think I favour novellas 😀
Thanks for taking the time to look at my blog and glad you enjoyed it 🙂
I’ve currently finished the first draft to a romantic novella where the two main characters are attracted to each other, but are already in long term relationships. They have an ‘encounter’ that brings their feelings to the surface, which is where the story starts. It was easy enough to establish that the protagonist had had a crush for months, then with a simple piece of dialogue for her to realise the attraction was mutual. The behaviour of the characters subsequently, I hope, gives the reader insight into their personalities. I guess, to make it feel real I tried to describe small moments that stick, like after an upset one character goes to her kitchen and eats a whole packet of chocolate biscuits. I hope that shows without telling.
The challenge, or thing they have to overcome, is whether to take a chance on leaving their SO’s for an ‘unknown’ or whether to walk away. I didn’t want either of my mains to be adulterers, so who was going to bring up the crunch question? And so on.
I hope by working very hard early on to establish my characters in my mind, I created a believable romance. The key for me was the characterisations and having a very definite sense of their place.
That sounds great, having little moments to build up the relationship, and I guess what the characters do would also show their personalities.
Thank you for the advice, it’s great hearing from someone who has already done this! 😀
I typically find shorter stories a lot more difficult to write than longer ones, and I think it has a lot to do with character relationships. It’s hard for me to establish and develop a believable relationship between characters in such a short amount of time. It can be done of course, but I think it’s more of a challenge in some ways. I think time-skips can work well, as long as they’re not too frequent and they don’t fall into too much summary. And I try to focus on engaging dialogue between characters, making sure that every interaction between them is interesting, etc.
Establishing relationships is hard enough, even worse when trying to do it in a smaller word count 😀
But it can be done, and now I just have to practice and hope it works out!
Great advice, dialogue is such a useful tool. Thanks for dropping by and commenting 🙂
When I started writing it was all short stories. You have to describe people and relationships is very few words and after a while it becomes an art. Then when I started writing novels (novella size) I thought it was absolute freedom! I had so much time to describe people and relationships – it seemed much easier. You can learn a lot about building characters and relationships by reading short stories 😀
I am definitely going to have to do more reading on it, I only recently discovered novellas and so far haven’t read a romance one! Think I am going to search one out to take a look 🙂
I think practicing short story writing would do well as well, then hopefully when I go back to writing novella I will feel it liberating like you 😀
Thanks for reading and commenting, always much appreciated 🙂
I have written 3 romances – 4th just on the final chapter- which started out as novellas but ended at 90 thou plus because novellas just didn’t give me the chance to develop my characters and in my book character is king..I’m not a fan of instant love…that’s more lust really..and I’m not a fan of the roue falling for the innocent either but as I said in blog which I know you commented on, I use goal, motivation and confllct heavily as the building blocks for each scene and to develop the characters further so they do make a journey.. I keep the time period tight but I have skimmed and I am fan of skimming, so long as you keep that tight. There is a sniffy misconception that romance is easy to write. It’s blooming hard. All kudos to you for sticking in there .
Wow, congrats on writing so much 😀 Character development and relationships are some of my favourite things to write about, but definitely also what I need to work on most!
Romance is difficult to write, yeah! All those nuances and getting the relationships and build up just right, why do we do it??
Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂
Cos love makes the world go round…….. Lol. Ok.Yeah. .It is also a genre you can break into.. What a cynic huh? .
When I started writing I only did flash fiction. It’s an incredible way to get the hang of making each word count and get yourself geared up for longer work. Turning a flash piece into a short is merely a question of adding on and expanding, allowing more depth, more romance, more of everything, and the next step is novellas and novels. But I suggest you read some flash fiction to see how it can be done and try it out.
I’m not a fan of time skipping, to me it’s a cop out, a solution for lazy writers that can’t find a way to make it work in the word count they have. I strongly suggest not to use it.
And writing romance is one of the most difficult things to do because we all have our idea of what romance is and that hardly ever aligns with what another person thinks, keep at it, because it is one of my favourite genres, if well done. 🙂
I read some bloggers who do a lot of flash fiction and short pieces, I am always astounded at their ability to write so much in so little! I think I will have to give it a go, it sounds like such a good way to get into writing shorter 🙂
Thanks for coming by and commenting, always love your Goblin posts!
Romance is definitely about the slow build for me. I need that heart aching and soul wrenching tension otherwise it’s just absolutely no fun for me to read. It would definitely take some skill to weave something like that into a shorter novel!
I know how many romance novellas are out there, so apparently it can be done, I just got to do some research on it.
Darn, got to read all those lovely short romances 😀
Pingback: Posts I loved this week | Taylor Grace
Great blog! Please follow me back at: http://www.authorsophia.wordpress.com for author interviews, writing tips, books reviews, articles on life, career, travel, beauty and life in sunny Spain! Also, my NEW upcoming book! x
Hello Mishka! Many writers don’t know how difficult it is to write a short story because of the points you mentioned and many others. It’s almost like trying to paint a masterpiece in a day (okay, I exaggerate–or do I?). I must commend you. Writing short stories is tough–writing a short romance? Yikes! I wrote my first short story (romance) a few months ago. Somehow, it turned out okay. Romance is a difficult genre for me to write. I plan on writing another romance, but next time I’ll be weaving in some elements of horror and suspense. 😉
I find romance a difficult thing to write no matter the length, but trying to fit it in a small word count without sounding rushed is definitely… interesting! But I like to think of it as a challenge for my writing skills 😀
Horror, suspense and romance? I bet that’s interesting and exciting to write!
Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂
Pingback: Boy, That Escalated Quickly… | Joy V. Smith
Not written romance as such – more adventure I guess and yes I have written novellas. I prefer writing novels but I enjoy novella writing and my normal genre is crime/mystery for either length book. I enjoy short story writing too and the discipline needed to get the whole story over and done with in a short space with maximum use of vocabulary and using it for impact. I guess that is why I write lots of Flash Fiction as well. Good luck with your writing Joy. Great blog too. 🙂
Thank you 😀 I am finding that novella writing suits my story style very well. I’m not very good at ‘fluff’, and am better at getting the plot moving quickly! Though, I hope to still write a novel length book one day.
Thank you for reading and commenting, much appreciated 🙂
Good luck with your novella writing and I hope that when you venture into a novel it flows smoothly for you. Just pretend you are writing an extra long novella. Enjoyed your blog and post and thanks for replying. Chat again soon I hope 🙂
Grab the reader with the first sentence and never let go-whether it’s short–novella–or sixty thou. Every chapter ends with a touch of what happens next. Don’t think so much. Let your emotions flow and don’t be afraid to cry, laugh; open your heart and write what your characters see and feel to enrich the story.
Thanks for stopping by, new friend.
A great comment, and great advice, thank you 🙂
P.S. Check out my interview with Babette James. It may be very well worth your while. http://wp.me/pjagl-2Rs
An excellent post and great points. We’ve never tried our hand at Novella but did a short story collection. One of the tales, Romantic, which had to be limited to six pages. It’s tough to gain investment from readers when your not giving them the material to build on. We try to fill with broad strokes the history or chemistry between the two as well as giving the problems that the couple might be facing. Sometimes negatives can make the positive all the more intense and real. Love this post, finding it brilliant for writers to reflect on!! A question every writer should ask themselves!!
Six pages? Wow, that must have been incredibly challenging 😀
I think it is fun, trying to work out something in a shorter space, it certainly works the writer muscles! I do like relationships to feel real, and build nicely, and that is indeed much harder to do in a limited word count. Making the readers care about the characters, and get behind them to be together is a toughie at the most of times.
Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂