Mastering the art of novella outlining – A comprehensive guide to crafting a well-structured and captivating short novel

How to outline a novella

When it comes to writing a novella, outlining is an essential step in the process. An outline provides a roadmap for your story, helping you stay organized and focused as you navigate through the plot and characters. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, outlining can save you time and energy, and help ensure that your novella is cohesive and engaging.

Before diving into the actual outlining process, it’s important to consider the type of novella you want to write. Novellas come in different genres – from mystery to romance to literary fiction – and each genre has its own conventions and expectations. Take some time to read novellas in your chosen genre to get a sense of the pacing, plot, and language that is often used. This will give you a good starting point for planning your own novella.

Once you have a genre in mind, you can start outlining your novella. There are several different types of outlines you can choose from, depending on your personal preferences and writing style. Some writers prefer a very detailed outline, while others may opt for a looser, more flexible outline. The key is to find a format that works for you.

The most common outline format for novellas is a 4-6 page document that includes the primary plot, subplots, main characters, and major scenes. This outline should give you a clear sense of the overall structure of your novella, while still leaving room for creative spontaneity and revision. It should provide a broad overview of the story, without getting too bogged down in the details.

When outlining your novella, it’s important to consider not only the plot, but also the characters and their behaviors and actions. The dialogue is another crucial element to consider, as it will bring your characters to life and move the story forward. By outlining your novella, you’ll have a better sense of where the story is going and how the characters will interact.

One thing to keep in mind when outlining a novella is to avoid too many flashbacks or complicated subplots. Novellas are shorter than novels, so it’s important to keep the story focused and moving at a good pace. While flashbacks and subplots can add depth, they can also distract from the main storyline if not used carefully. It’s important to choose which ones are essential to the plot and leave out the ones that don’t contribute to the overall story.

Once your outline is complete, it’s time to start writing the first draft of your novella. Using the outline as a roadmap, you can begin fleshing out the scenes and filling in the details. Keep in mind that the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect – it’s often just a starting point. You can always go back and revise and refine your novella later.

Overall, outlining a novella is a crucial step in the writing process. It helps you organize your thoughts, plot, and characters, and ensures that your story is coherent and engaging. By taking the time to create a solid outline, you’ll save yourself time and frustration in the long run, and increase your chances of writing a compelling novella.

Planning To Outline Your Novel? Don’t.

When it comes to writing a novella, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. While some writers find it helpful to outline their story before diving in, many artists in the literary world argue that it’s best to skip the outline altogether. Here’s why:

1. The freedom to explore different types of storytelling: Without a strict outline, you have the freedom to experiment with different narrative techniques and writing styles, allowing your story to evolve naturally.

2. A focus on character development: Without the constraints of an outline, you can fully immerse yourself in exploring the behaviors and motivations of your characters, creating more depth and complexity.

3. An organic and fluid plot: When you let your story unfold naturally without an outline, the plot takes shape in a more instinctive and authentic way. This can lead to surprising and meaningful moments that might not have been planned.

4. Engaging readers through suspense: By not having an outline, you’ll keep yourself on your toes and your readers guessing. This unpredictability can create tension and excitement, making readers eager to turn page after page.

5. The joy of discovery: Writing without an outline can be an adventure, as you navigate through the story and uncover the twists and turns along the way. This sense of discovery can be invigorating, both for the writer and the reader.

6. Embracing flashbacks and multiple points of view: Without the rigidity of an outline, you can seamlessly incorporate flashbacks and multiple perspectives, adding layers of complexity and depth to your novella.

While outlining can be beneficial in certain genres, such as mystery or horror, where a structure is key, many renowned authors have successfully written novellas without extensive planning. So, whether you’re writing a classic tale, an inspirational piece, or a science fiction novella set in a dystopian world, consider ditching the outline and letting your creativity guide your writing process.

Of course, every writer is different, and what works for one may not work for another. If you find that outlining helps you stay organized or stay on track, then go ahead and do what works for you. The most important thing is to find a writing method that sparks your creativity, keeps you motivated, and allows you to fully explore the world of your novella.

Flood your reading list with novellas

Flood your reading list with novellas

Novellas are a great way to explore different genres and styles of writing without committing to a full-length novel. These shorter works of fiction can be just as compelling and thought-provoking as their longer counterparts. If you’re looking to expand your reading list with novellas, here are a few tips on finding and enjoying these captivating stories.

  • Choose a genre: Novellas can be found in a wide range of genres, from horror to mystery to literary fiction. Decide what genre you’re interested in and start exploring the novellas available in that category.
  • Research: Before diving into a novella, take a few minutes to research the author and their other works. This can give you a better understanding of their writing style and what to expect from their novella.
  • Check out contemporary novellas: While classic novellas like “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Animal Farm” are timeless, there are also many contemporary novellas that are worth exploring. Check out some recent releases and see what sparks your interest.
  • Start with shorter novellas: If you’re new to reading novellas, it may be a good idea to start with shorter ones. This will allow you to ease into the format and get a feel for the pacing and storytelling style.
  • Introduce yourself to different writing styles: Novellas are a great way to sample different writing styles. Since novellas are shorter, you can read multiple ones by different authors in a shorter amount of time. This will help you discover new writers and find the styles that resonate with you.
  • Keep a reading journal: As you read novellas, take note of the ones you enjoy and the ones that didn’t resonate with you. This will help you keep track of your reading preferences and make future recommendations easier.
  • Don’t be afraid to revisit novellas: Novellas often have layers of meaning and can benefit from re-reading. You may discover new things or gain a deeper understanding of the story upon further reflection.
  • Take your time: Novellas can be read quickly, but that doesn’t mean you have to rush through them. Take your time to savor the prose, appreciate the characters, and immerse yourself in the world the writer has created.
  • Leave room for interpretation: Novellas often leave some questions unanswered and encourage the reader to fill in the gaps. Embrace this ambiguity and enjoy the freedom to interpret the story in your own way.

By flooding your reading list with novellas, you’ll have the opportunity to explore a variety of genres, writing styles, and thought-provoking stories. So take a chance, dive into a novella, and let the flood of captivating stories sweep you away.

Consider the novella’s pacing as you read

When reading a novella, it is important to pay attention to the pacing of the story. Pacing refers to how quickly or slowly the events and actions unfold in the narrative. The pace of a novella can greatly impact the reader’s experience and engagement with the story.

In a novella, the plot and character development may be condensed compared to a novel. This means that the story moves at a faster pace, and the author often focuses on key events and moments that advance the plot. As you read, pay attention to how the author uses language, sentence structure, and dialogue to create a sense of urgency or tension.

Novellas often have fewer subplots and a more focused approach to storytelling. This means that every event and interaction has a significant impact on the overall story. Pay attention to the major events and the way they are written. Consider how the author uses figurative language, descriptive details, and dialogue to bring these events to life and uncover the deeper themes of the novella.

One tip for pacing is to keep a list of questions and mysteries as you read. This will help you stay engaged with the story and keep track of the events and behaviors of the characters. As the novella progresses, you may find that some of these questions are answered, while others remain unanswered until the end. This adds to the suspense and keeps the reader guessing.

Another tip is to pay attention to the world that the author has created. In a novella, there is often a trade-off between describing the larger world and focusing on the plot and characters. Look for details and descriptions that give you a sense of the setting and the characters’ surroundings. This can help you better understand the context of the story.

In contemporary novellas, authors often use different kinds of pacing to create suspense and build tension. They may alternate between long, descriptive paragraphs and short, fast-paced sentences to create a sense of urgency. Pay attention to these shifts in pacing and how they affect your reading experience.

As you read, consider the pacing in relation to the genre of the novella. For example, a horror novella may have a faster pace with lots of action and suspense, while a mystery novella may have a slower pace as the characters investigate the crime and uncover clues.

Once you finish reading the novella, take a minute to reflect on the pacing. Ask yourself whether the pace was consistent throughout or if it changed at different points in the story. Consider how the pacing influenced your reading experience and whether it was effective in keeping you engaged and interested in the story.

If you are planning to write a novella yourself, studying the pacing of other novellas can be a helpful exercise. Take note of the different techniques and approaches that authors use to create pacing in their stories. This can give you ideas and inspiration for plotting and pacing your own novella.

  • Pay attention to the pacing as you read a novella
  • Consider how the author uses language and sentence structure
  • Keep a list of questions and mysteries as you read
  • Pay attention to the world the author has created
  • Look for shifts in pacing and how they affect your reading experience
  • Consider the pacing in relation to the genre of the novella
  • Reflect on the pacing once you finish reading
  • Study the pacing of other novellas to inspire your own writing

Which contemporary author are you

Have you ever wondered which contemporary author you are most like? Take this quiz to find out!

1. How would you describe your writing style?

a) Literary and descriptive

b) Action-packed and fast-paced

c) Inspirational and thought-provoking

d) Science fiction and fantastical

2. What type of plot do you enjoy writing?

a) A complex plot with multiple layers and twists

b) A straightforward plot with a clear goal

c) A character-driven plot with emotional depth

d) A speculative plot set in an alternate reality

3. How do you decide on the events that happen in your story?

a) I plan everything out meticulously before I start writing

b) I let the story unfold naturally as I write

c) I have a general idea but make changes as I go along

d) I use flashbacks and nonlinear storytelling to keep the reader engaged

4. How important is language and writing style to you?

a) It is the most important aspect of my writing

b) It is important, but storytelling is my main focus

c) It is important to create a strong emotional impact

d) It is important to create a unique and immersive world

5. What is your preferred point of view to write from?

a) First person point of view

b) Third person limited point of view

c) Multiple third person points of view

d) Second person point of view

6. How do you approach outlining your book?

a) I create a detailed outline before I begin writing

b) I have a loose outline and let the story develop naturally

c) I outline major plot points but leave room for spontaneity

d) I don’t outline at all and let the story unfold organically


If you answered mostly ‘a’: You are a writer with a literary style and enjoy plotting complex stories.

If you answered mostly ‘b’: You are a writer who loves action and fast-paced plots.

If you answered mostly ‘c’: You are a writer who focuses on character development and emotional depth.

If you answered mostly ‘d’: You are a writer who enjoys science fiction and creating unique worlds.

Types of novellas

Novellas can vary greatly in structure and style. Here are a few different types you can consider when outlining your novella:

1. Flashback Novella: This type of novella uses flashbacks to tell the story. It might start with a present-day event that triggers a memory, and then the character reflects on the past. Flashbacks can add depth to the story and help the reader understand the character’s motivations.

2. Mystery Novella: If you enjoy writing mystery stories, a mystery novella might be a good fit. In this format, the main character must uncover a hidden truth or solve a puzzling event. The story can have twists and turns that keep the reader engaged until the end.

3. Historical Novella: Historical novellas are set in a specific time period and often involve real-life events or figures. They can provide a unique perspective on a particular era, and the historical context can enrich the story.

4. Psychological Novella: Psychological novellas focus on the inner workings of the characters’ minds. They explore their thoughts, emotions, and motivations, often delving into complex psychological issues. These novellas can be introspective and thought-provoking.

5. Romance Novella: If you enjoy writing love stories, a romance novella may be the right choice. These novellas often center around a romantic relationship and the emotional journey of the characters. They can be sweet, steamy, or even tragic.

6. Contemporary Novella: Contemporary novellas are set in modern times and deal with current issues and themes. They often reflect the challenges and experiences of people living in the present day. These novellas can be realistic and relatable.

7. Sci-fi/Fantasy Novella: For writers who enjoy creating strange and imaginative worlds, sci-fi or fantasy novellas can be a great outlet. They allow you to explore different worlds, unusual creatures, and magical elements. The possibilities are endless in this genre.

Remember, these are just a few types of novellas to consider. The format and style of your novella should align with the story you want to tell and the genre you enjoy writing in. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different approaches. The most important thing is to have fun and let your creativity flow!


When it comes to writing, many writers often find themselves trying to decide whether they should take a more creative approach or stick to a more traditional format. That’s where the concept of “literary” writing comes into play. Literary writing takes a larger focus on the beauty of language, symbolism, and deeper themes, allowing readers to uncover something deeper and thought-provoking throughout the story.

One key point to keep in mind when creating a literary novella is to leave room for interpretation. Often, writers will introduce characters, events, and places that may not have a clear answer or purpose. Instead, these elements are meant to spark questions in the reader’s mind and allow them to come to their own conclusions.

Here are 5 tips to help you in your literary novella writing:

  1. Begin with a draft: Don’t be afraid to start with a rough draft. It’s through the process of rewriting and editing that you’ll find the true essence of your story.
  2. Introduce symbolism: Look for opportunities to incorporate symbolism into your story. Whether it’s through objects, events, or characters, symbolism can add depth and complexity to your narrative.
  3. Pay attention to language: Use descriptive language to create a vivid sense of place and atmosphere. Consider the tone and mood you want to convey, and choose your words carefully to evoke the desired emotions in your readers.
  4. Break away from traditional plot points: While a traditional plot structure can be effective, don’t be afraid to break away from it. Explore different ways to tell your story, and consider experimenting with non-linear narratives or multiple perspectives.
  5. Keep the reader engaged: Throughout your novella, it’s important to keep the reader engaged and intrigued. Create tension and suspense by introducing unexpected events or twists, and make sure there are moments of resolution and revelation to keep the story moving forward.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a literary novella that challenges and inspires your readers.


In the creative process of outlining a novella, it is important to find inspiration that will guide the development of your story. Some authors prefer to start with a plot idea, while others may choose to focus on a theme or a unique setting. Regardless of the starting point, having a source of inspiration can help you stay motivated and committed to finishing your novella.

There are many ways to find inspiration for your novella, but here are 9 steps that can help spark your creativity:

1. Visit a contemporary art exhibit to view unique and figurative artwork.
2. Read 4 science fiction novellas and consider the symbolism and animal themes present in the stories.
3. Take a long walk in nature and jot down any ideas or scenes that come up in your mind.
4. Listen to a music album from a genre you don’t often listen to and see if it sparks any new ideas.
5. Breakfast at a café and observe the people around you, noting any interesting personalities or conversations.
6. Watch a contemporary dance performance to appreciate the physical storytelling without any words.
7. Read a book or watch a movie in a genre you love and try to identify the key plot points and character development.
8. Visit a local bookstore and browse through the novella section, noting the titles and authors that catch your interest.
9. Take a minute to reflect on a major event or life experience and consider how it could be reimagined in a novella.

By following these steps, you can develop a list of potential inspirations to choose from when planning your novella. It’s important to remember that inspiration can come from anywhere and can take many forms. As you move through the outlining and drafting process, you may realize that some of the initial ideas don’t work or need to be revised. This is all part of the creative journey.

Having a clear sense of the theme, plot, and major events will help you keep a steady pace and ensure that your novella feels cohesive and engaging to readers. As you work on your novella, don’t be afraid to take risks and make changes. The trade-off is well worth it if it helps you produce a stronger, more captivating story.

Inspiration is just the starting point. It’s important to keep in mind that having an outline is not set in stone; it’s a flexible tool that you can use to guide your writing. As you begin to write your novella, always remain open to new ideas and opportunities. And remember, the most important thing is to keep writing and not lose sight of your characters and their development.

Whether you are a seasoned author or a first-time writer, outlining a novella can be a daunting task. But by following these steps and finding your own sources of inspiration, you will be well on your way to developing a strong foundation for your story and creating a novella that will captivate readers.


Choosing the right genre for your novella is a crucial step in the outlining process. It sets the tone and overall direction of your story. There are many different genres to choose from, each with its own set of conventions and reader expectations. Here are some tips to help you make the right genre choice for your novella:

1. Know your audience: Think about who you want to read your novella. Are you targeting fans of a specific genre or aiming for a wider readership? This will help you pick a genre that will resonate with your intended audience.

2. Research different genres: Take the time to explore various genres and read books in those genres. Pay attention to the pacing, character development, and unique traits of each genre. This will give you a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t in a particular genre.

3. Stay true to your story: While it’s important to consider genre conventions, don’t feel constrained by them. Your novella can be a hybrid of genres or fall into a subgenre. Just make sure the genre you choose aligns with the story you want to tell.

4. Be open to change: Sometimes, as you outline and start writing your novella, you may realize that the genre you initially chose doesn’t work for the story you want to tell. Don’t be afraid to switch genres or try a different approach. The goal is to create the best possible version of your story.

5. Find inspiration in different places: Look beyond books in your chosen genre for inspiration. Watch movies, listen to music, visit art galleries, or explore nature. It’s often the cross-pollination of ideas from different sources that sparks new and unique story ideas.

6. Consider a contemporary or classic approach: Decide whether you want your novella to feel modern and relatable or have a timeless quality. This will also influence the language, settings, and themes you choose to explore in your story.

7. Don’t be afraid to mix genres: If you’re feeling stuck or struggling to find the right genre for your novella, consider blending genres to create something new and exciting. Just make sure the blend feels natural and serves the story rather than confusing or alienating the reader.

8. Research the market: Take a look at what genres are currently popular and selling well. While you don’t want to merely follow trends, it can help to know what readers are currently interested in and where your novella might fit in the market.

Overall, choosing the right genre for your novella is a significant decision. It will determine many aspects of your story, including the pacing, plot, and even the actions and dialogue of your characters. Take the time to consider your options and pick a genre that will best serve your story and engage your readers.

Find a catalyst that sparks action

One of the first steps to outlining a novella is finding a catalyst that sparks action. This is the event or situation that sets the plot in motion and drives the story forward. Without a catalyst, your novella may lack direction and purpose.

When choosing a catalyst, consider what kind of story you want to tell. Are you writing a mystery novel? A science fiction novella? A classic literature piece? The catalyst should reflect the genre and tone of your story.

There are many places you can find inspiration for a catalyst. It could be a moment of change in a character’s life, a meeting with an unexpected business partner, or even a tragic event that leaves the protagonist seeking revenge. The catalyst should be something significant enough to propel the characters into action and produce a chain of events throughout the novella.

Once you’ve chosen your catalyst, start plotting out how it will affect your characters and the world they live in. Consider the actions they will take in response to the catalyst and how this will move the plot forward. Think about any subplots or secondary characters that may be impacted by the catalyst as well.

As you begin outlining, keep in mind that pacing is important. Your novella should have a good balance between action and slower moments of reflection or character development. Avoid having too many action-packed scenes back-to-back or your readers may become overwhelmed.

The language you use in your outline should be concise and clear. Each point should be related to the catalyst and its effect on the characters and plot. Use sentences or short phrases to outline the major actions and events that will take place.

Throughout the outline, be sure to consider the arc of the story. What is the primary goal or objective of the protagonist? How will they change and grow over the course of the novella? The actions and events you outline should contribute to the overall development of the characters and the larger story.

In summary, finding a catalyst that sparks action is a crucial step in outlining a novella. It sets the tone and direction of the story, provides inspiration for the characters and events, and helps to ensure a good balance of action and reflection. Take your time in choosing the right catalyst for your story, and the rest of the outline will fall into place.

Nine steps to writing a novella

  1. Start with a solid idea: Before you begin writing your novella, you need to have a clear sense of what the story is about. What happens in the story? What is the main conflict? What are the subplots? Take a minute to outline the main events and characters of your novella.
  2. Create your characters: Good characters are at the heart of any story. Take time to develop unique and interesting characters that will grab the reader’s attention. Think about their backgrounds, motivations, and how they will change throughout the story.
  3. Outline the arc of the story: Novellas often have a specific structure and pacing. Introduce the main conflict early on, while also creating a sense of mystery or intrigue. Then, provide a series of events and actions that move the story forward. Avoid trying to cram too much into your novella – focus on a few key moments that will have a big impact on the characters.
  4. Choose your setting: Novellas can take place in a variety of settings, from real-world places to strange and unique locations. Use the setting to enhance the mood and atmosphere of your story, and consider how it can contribute to the overall theme or symbolism.
  5. Work on your opening: The first few pages of your novella are crucial, as they need to hook the reader and make them want to keep reading. Consider starting with a compelling event or a captivating description to draw the reader in.
  6. Develop the conflict: Every good story needs conflict, and novellas are no exception. Think about the main conflict of your novella and how it will drive the actions of your characters. As the story progresses, raise the stakes and make the conflict more intense.
  7. Add in subplots: While novellas are shorter than full-length novels, they can still benefit from the addition of subplots. These secondary storylines can add depth and complexity to your novella, and provide additional tension or emotional impact.
  8. Keep it focused: Novellas are a unique business. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are telling a novella-length story and not a full novel. Avoid getting bogged down in unnecessary details or going off on tangents. Stay focused on the main story and characters.
  9. Revise and edit: Once you have a first draft of your novella, set it aside for a while and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Read through your work and revise any areas that need improvement. Look for inconsistencies in plot or character development, and make sure the pacing is just right.

By following these nine steps, you’ll be on your way to creating a well-crafted novella that will engage and captivate your readers.

1 Read lots of novellas

When it comes to outlining a novella, one of the most important steps is to familiarize yourself with the genre. By reading lots of novellas, you can get a sense of the structure, pacing, and themes that are common in this form of storytelling.

Novellas are shorter stories, often contemporary, that have a defined beginning, middle, and end. They are typically written in a more concise and focused manner than a full-length novel, which makes them a good choice for writers who want to tell a complete story without the commitment of a longer work.

When reading novellas, pay attention to how the author approaches plotting and character development. Look for how they begin the story and how they introduce and develop the main characters. Also, consider the pacing of the story and how the author moves the action forward. You may find that novellas tend to have a faster pace and a more streamlined plot than longer novels.

One thing to avoid when outlining a novella is relying too heavily on flashbacks or non-linear storytelling. Novellas tend to work best when the story is told in a linear fashion, with events unfolding in chronological order. If you find that your story needs to include flashbacks or jumps in time, consider whether a novella is the best format for it or if it might be better suited to a novel or a different kind of writing project.

As you read novellas, you may also find that they often leave out some of the larger world-building elements that are common in novels. Novellas typically focus on a smaller setting or a narrower slice of a larger world. They may also focus more on a single character’s actions or a specific event, rather than a larger plot or conflict. Keep this in mind when outlining your own novella – focus on a few key characters or a specific event, and avoid getting too caught up in creating a complex world.

Another thing to consider when reading novellas is the role of symbolism and theme. Novellas often use symbolism to convey deeper meaning or explore a central theme. Pay attention to how the author incorporates symbolism throughout the story, and think about how you can use this technique in your own work. This can add depth and complexity to your novella, even in its shorter form.

By reading lots of novellas, you can hone your skills as a writer and gain a better understanding of what makes a good novella. You’ll also get a sense of the different approaches that writers take when outlining and telling their stories. Take note of the techniques and strategies that resonate with you, and use them as inspiration for your own novella outlines.

2 Outline key scenes

After you have chosen your novella’s genre and developed your characters, it’s time to outline the key scenes that will make up your story. Outlining the key scenes will help you keep track of the important plot points and ensure that your story has a cohesive structure.

Start by making a list of the most important scenes in your novella. These are the scenes that will move the plot forward and reveal important information to the reader. Think about what needs to happen in the beginning, middle, and end of your story, and brainstorm scenes that will bring those moments to life.

In addition to the main plot points, consider including scenes that develop your characters and their relationships. These scenes may not directly advance the plot, but they are essential for the reader to understand and connect with your characters. Use these scenes to show the characters’ behaviors, motivations, and conflicts.

When outlining your key scenes, it can be helpful to use bullet points or numbered lists. This will allow you to easily see the progression of the story and keep track of what happens in each scene. Consider using different bullet points or numbers to differentiate between different plotlines or character arcs.

As you outline your scenes, be sure to consider the pacing and flow of your novella. Think about where the story should slow down and where it should pick up. This will help you create a sense of tension and keep the reader engaged throughout the story.

Once you have outlined your key scenes, take a step back and look at the larger structure of your novella. Make sure that the scenes are in a logical order and that they build upon each other to create a satisfying narrative arc. If necessary, rearrange or add scenes to strengthen the overall structure of your story.

Remember that outlining is a creative process and does not have to be set in stone. As you draft and revise your novella, you may find that some scenes need to be revised or deleted, or that new scenes need to be added. Be open to making changes and trust your instincts as a writer.

In addition to outlining your key scenes, you may also want to jot down some notes about the setting, dialogue, and language you envision for each scene. This will help you create a vivid and immersive world for your characters to inhabit.

By taking the time to outline your key scenes, you will have a roadmap to guide you as you write your novella. This will help ensure that you stay on track and don’t lose sight of the story you want to tell. Happy outlining!

3 Choose a point of view

When readers consider novellas, one of the first questions they may ask themselves is, “What point of view is the novella told from?” This decision can have a significant impact on the overall reading experience.

Deciding on the point of view for your novella is like choosing the blueprint for your story. It will determine the perspective from which the events are portrayed and the degree of intimacy readers will feel with the characters and world you’ve created.

There are several options to choose from, such as first person, second person, or third person limited or omniscient. Each point of view has its own advantages and challenges, and figuring out which one to use will depend on the story you want to tell.

First person perspective, for example, allows readers to experience the events of the novella through the eyes of the main character. This can create a sense of immediacy and intimacy, but it limits the reader’s access to other characters’ thoughts and experiences.

Second person perspective, although less common, can create a unique and immersive reading experience. It directly addresses the reader as the protagonist, making them an active participant in the story.

Third person limited perspective, on the other hand, allows readers to have a broader view of the world and the characters in it. They can still closely follow the thoughts and experiences of the main character, but they also have the opportunity to glimpse into the minds of other important characters.

Lastly, the third person omniscient perspective provides the most expansive view, giving readers access to the thoughts and experiences of all the characters. This can provide a comprehensive understanding of the story, but it can also be challenging to maintain a consistent narrative voice.

Choosing the right point of view for your novella will largely depend on the story you want to tell and the effect you want to achieve. Consider the pacing, the tone, the themes, and the overall structure of your novella when making this decision.

Remember that you can always change the point of view as you develop your story. What may have started with a first person perspective could transition into a third person perspective, or vice versa, as you refine your writing and plot.

Regardless of which point of view you choose, it’s important to stick with it throughout the novella. Switching perspectives abruptly or inconsistently can confuse readers and disrupt the flow of the story.

As you outline your novella, jot down the key events and moments that will take place. Consider how the point of view you’ve chosen will shape the way these events are experienced and portrayed to the readers.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that novellas are not just shorter versions of novels. They require their own pacing, structure, and language. While a novel may have the luxury of hundreds of pages to explore various subplots and character arcs, a novella has to condense those elements into a tight and impactful narrative.

By carefully choosing the point of view for your novella, you can ensure that you make the most of the limited page count and create a truly engaging and memorable reading experience.

4 Develop a character arc

In a novella, readers have a limited number of pages to get to know the characters, so it’s important to develop a character arc that captivates them from the beginning. The arc is the journey the character goes on throughout the story, experiencing growth and change.

When brainstorming your character arc, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What kind of person is your character at the start of the story?
  • What major events or experiences will cause them to change?
  • How will their behaviors and actions evolve over the course of the novella?

Introduce your character’s arc early on, within the first few pages, so readers can start to see the potential for change. A strong character arc adds depth and emotional resonance to a story, allowing readers to connect with the character on a deeper level.

One approach to developing a character arc is to use the three-act structure. Divide your novella into three major sections and have the character’s growth unfold throughout. In the first act, introduce the character and their starting point. In the second act, show the catalyst or inciting incident that sets the character on their journey. In the third act, depict the character’s transformation and resolution.

Another technique is to create a character arc based on a sense of loss or change. Maybe your character is forced to confront their fears, make difficult choices, or let go of something they held dear. The process of grappling with these challenges can lead to personal growth and development.

As a writer, you have the freedom to decide how much change your character will undergo. Some arcs may be more subtle, while others may involve a complete transformation. It depends on the type of story you want to tell and the effect you want to leave on your readers.

Remember that character arcs should feel authentic and believable. Stay true to your character’s motivations and behaviors. Avoid making sudden changes that don’t have a strong foundation in the story. You want your character’s growth to feel earned and satisfying.

When outlining your novella, spend time fleshing out the character’s arc. Understand where they begin, what events will trigger their change, and how they will end up at the conclusion. The character arc is one of the most important elements of a compelling novella, so take the time to develop it fully and revise as needed.

5 Pick up the pace

Pacing is crucial in a novella, especially given its shorter format. Novellas typically range from about 20,000 to 50,000 words, which means every sentence counts. As a writer, you need to keep the reader’s attention and provide a unique reading experience in a shorter amount of pages.

One way to pick up the pace is to look at the events and actions in your novella. Make sure they are all necessary and move the plot forward. If certain scenes or subplots feel unnecessary or slow down the story, revise or remove them. Every action should have a purpose and contribute to the larger plot arc.

Another way to pick up the pace is to use shorter sentences and paragraphs. This can create a faster and more intense reading experience. By using concise language and cutting down on unnecessary description, you can make every word count. However, be mindful not to lose the richness and depth of your storytelling in the process.

Consider the genre of your novella and the expectations of your readers. Different genres may have different pacing requirements. For example, a horror novella might require more suspense and tension, while a science fiction novella might focus on the exploration of new ideas. Tailor your pacing to fit the genre and keep readers engaged.

When developing your characters, focus on their primary behaviors and motivations. Leave out unnecessary details that don’t contribute to the overall story. By streamlining your characters, you can keep the focus on the plot and avoid unnecessary distractions.

Take a look at the structure of your novella. If it feels too complicated or slow, consider condensing the story into a simpler format. While subplots can add depth, be careful not to overwhelm the reader with too many storylines. The primary plot should remain the central focus and drive the story forward.

Finally, reading your own work out loud can help you realize whether the pacing is effective. Pay attention to any moments that feel sluggish or drag on. If a section feels boring or loses your own interest, it’s likely that readers will feel the same way. Make necessary adjustments to maintain a steady and engaging pace throughout your novella.

6 Use figurative language

Figurative language is a creative way to add depth and richness to your writing. It can help evoke emotions, create vivid imagery, and engage your readers on a deeper level. Using figurative language in your novella can make the reading experience more enjoyable and memorable.

When using figurative language, consider using metaphors, similes, personification, and other literary devices to bring your story to life. For example, instead of simply describing a character’s sadness, you could write “Her tears flowed like a river, washing away her sorrows.” This creates a stronger emotional impact and paints a clearer picture for the reader.

Figurative language can also be used to symbolize certain themes or ideas in your novella. For instance, you could use the image of a bird soaring through the sky to symbolize freedom or liberation. This adds depth and complexity to your story, giving readers more to think about and analyze.

However, it’s important to use figurative language sparingly and purposefully. Too much can make your writing feel overdone or cliché. It’s also important to ensure that the language you choose is appropriate for the tone and genre of your novella. For example, a contemporary novella might use more modern, colloquial language, while a classic novella might use more formal and elegant language.

As with all aspects of writing, practice is key. Experiment with different types of figurative language and see what works best for your story. Keep in mind that not every novella needs to use figurative language, and it’s okay to write in a more straightforward style if that’s what feels right for your story.

Overall, using figurative language can add depth, emotion, and complexity to your novella. It can help create a more immersive reading experience and make your story more memorable. So don’t be afraid to include some creative language in your writing!

7 Avoid complicated subplots

When outlining your novella, it’s essential to avoid complicated subplots. While subplots can add depth and complexity to a novel, they can also distract the reader from the main storyline. Novellas are shorter than full-length novels and therefore have limited space to explore multiple storylines. Instead, focus on developing a single, impactful plot that carries the novella from beginning to end.

Having too many subplots can confuse the reader and make the novella feel disjointed. It’s important to keep the reader’s attention focused on the main plot and the central characters. While some writers may use subplots to provide additional context or depth, make sure these subplots enhance rather than distract from the story you are trying to tell.

In a novella, every word counts, and there is no room for unnecessary tangents. Instead, focus on the main characters and their journey. Keep the pace moving by avoiding excessive subplots, flashbacks, or excessive world-building. Every sentence should contribute to the central plot and overall theme of the novella.

When planning your novella, consider if there are any subplots that can be removed or consolidated to make the story more focused and cohesive. If a subplot does not directly contribute to the main storyline or the development of the characters, it may be best to leave it out altogether.

Remember, a novella is not a full-length novel, and it needs to make an impact in a shorter amount of time. By avoiding complicated subplots, you can ensure that your novella stays on track and delivers a powerful story that resonates with readers.

8 Revise your drafts

Revising your drafts is an essential step in the writing process. It allows you to refine and improve your novella, making it even more compelling and engaging for your readers. Here are eight key points to consider when revising your drafts:

  1. Look at the big picture: Take a step back and consider the overall structure and plot of your novella. Does the story flow smoothly? Are there any major plot holes or inconsistencies that need to be addressed?
  2. Check for pacing: Pace is crucial in a novella. Make sure that the events and scenes are spread out evenly and that there are no long stretches without any action. Introduce conflict and tension early on to keep readers engaged.
  3. Develop your characters: Characters are a vital part of any story. Make sure your characters are well-rounded and have believable motivations and behaviors. Consider the arc of each character and how they grow and change throughout the novella.
  4. Uncover symbolism: Symbolism can add depth and layers to your novella. Look for opportunities to use figurative language and symbolism to enhance your story and convey deeper meanings.
  5. Consider the reader’s experience: Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and try to read your novella from their perspective. Does the story captivate and hold their attention? Are there any confusing or unclear moments that need clarification?
  6. Make sure your sentences are clear and concise: Clean up your sentences and ensure they are grammatically correct. Avoid wordiness and use strong, evocative language to create vivid imagery in your writing.
  7. Revise the draft multiple times: Don’t settle for just one revision. Go through your novella multiple times, looking for different things each time. Each revision will help you uncover new elements and make your story stronger.
  8. Get feedback: Share your drafts with trusted beta readers or writing groups. Getting feedback from others can provide valuable insights and help you identify areas for improvement.

By following these steps, you can produce a polished and well-crafted novella that captivates readers and leaves a lasting impression. Remember, the revision process takes time and effort, but it is an essential part of creating a successful piece of writing.


How to Outline Your Novel – part 2

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