Novellas-Everyone Loves Leftovers

Orphans of Paradise should be close to completion but I’m getting some mixed signals from my beta readers. There are two alternate story threads scattered throughout the main plot which combine for a total of 4 POVs—the two MCs and two minor characters whose plots intersect in the latter half of the book. The consensus has been that they’re well written and they’re interesting but something about them feels disconnected and distracting from the story as a whole.

A few readers suggested lengthening them to help ground them more in the story. Others have suggested combining the two minor character’s POVs into one. And someone else has suggested cutting them altogether. Obviously my ego is much opposed to the third option. Not because I don’t want to do what’s best for my story. I do and I will. But because I really love them (how many times do you think writers say that a day?) and I think there’s something to them; something that gives the main story an emotional depth and diversity that I’m afraid it might lack otherwise.

But the last thing I want to do is stand in my own way by presenting a story that’s difficult for people to follow and therefore connect with. So I’m considering turning these threads into a companion novella. I’ve never written a novella before. I’m currently attempting one for another book but still I’m no expert. There’s the issue of length—will ten chapters or so be too brief? I’ve read that novellas can run anywhere between 10,000 to 40,000 words but that sure is a lot of wiggle room. What do readers expect from a novella as opposed to a novel? Is the story thread strong enough to stand on its own?

Anyone out there written a novella? Can you clue me in to some of the rules or tricks of the trade that may be different from novel writing? Most of the companion novellas I’ve seen are extensions of a novel but maybe from another character’s POV or a means of providing more backstory. An organized collection of qualifiers and leftovers if you will. And everyone loves leftovers? Right?

I’m confused to say the least, and incredibly torn. I’ve made huge cuts to a novel before, but when you’ve been living with a particular story told in a particular way for so long, it’s really hard to part with that ideal. Especially when you’re not one hundred percent sure that it’s the right thing to do.

I’m waiting on feedback from three more beta readers which will hopefully provide me with some kind of clarity. But unfortunately, what I think is pretty clear is that I’m not nearly as close to being finished as I thought I was.

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4 thoughts on “Novellas-Everyone Loves Leftovers

  1. pishnguyen says:

    I can imagine how dismaying it is to realize you have a lot more work ahead of you than you thought. (Actually, I’m kind of in the same boat with my novel — currently cannibalizing whole chapters of it, hoping I can save a paragraph or two for the rewrite. *sigh*) It’s a daunting task. The wonderful silver lining in all of this is that all of your beta readers agree the story lines are well written and engaging. This is fantastic news! Maybe it means you have even more than you originally thought.

    I’m sorry I don’t have any great advice on the novella front. I’ve never written one. I enjoy reading novellas that offer a different POV on a favorite story line or character. I’ve also enjoyed novellas that expand on a beloved plot. Backstory is a fun thing, too!

    Good luck with your decision!

    • It’s definitely frustrating and one of those moments when I feel the full weight of being indie. I have some great beta readers who have given me really solid advice but ultimately I’m just going to have to follow my gut–which still hasn’t made up its mind yet haha. Hopefully it’ll come to me and you’re right. At least I know the story will be interesting either way. The priority now is just making it cohesive.

  2. R Mehrotra says:

    I had the same issue with my novel. I eventually took out 30,000 words and part of that will be Book 2. With a lot of re-writing of course.

    • Nice to hear someone else has been through something similar! Were you just able to find a natural break in the manuscript or did you cut sections throughout the entire MS. That’s what I’m facing right now. Not only will I have to remove the chapters and fix the transitions where they once existed but I’ll also have to write an ending for characters who were purposefully left ambiguous as they were just secondary characters. I’m curious to know when you felt certain about your decision to make the changes. Thanks for stopping by!!

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