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What is the basic structure of a novella?

Structure of a Novella by Janalyn Voigt

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Answer by Janalyn Voigt:

You structure a novella the same way you do a full-length novel. There are a variety of plotting models available but I prefer the classic three-act plot structure introduced by Aristotle way back when. Here’s my take on Aristotle’s Incline: Plotting a Novel in Three Acts.

There are significant differences between writing a novel and novella, mainly due to the novella’s brevity. Including subplots, as an example, only siphons words that would better serve to develop your main plot. Paring the cast of characters to those absolutely essential to the plot also helps conserve precious words. When writing a novella you might start at a slightly later time in the story, perhaps skipping or abbreviating the normal-life set-up and going straight to the inciting incident, where appropriate.

As always, its tough to generalize, and your story’s needs trump conflicting advice.

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©2014 by Janalyn Voigt

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Written by Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt

© Janalyn Voigt
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I’m Janalyn Voigt, an author, speaker, and former social media mentor. DawnSinger and Wayfarer, the first two books in my epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, released with Pelican Book Group and will be followed by at least two more installments. I’m also working on a romantic suspense novel set in an Irish castle, but then historical fiction has a grip on me too. Being unabashedly multi-genre makes me into what some might term a reluctant rebel, but I prefer to think of myself as a storyteller.

2 thoughts on “What is the basic structure of a novella?”

  1. Is it possible to write a non fiction novel with a fiction style of writing ? Meaning I am writing about a true event, yet I do not want it to sound like a science journal. I want each person and each event in the novel to have stronger than life character.

    1. Hi, Jerry. Thanks for the question. It is possible, even desirable, to write a nonfiction story in a fiction style. It’s called narrative nonfiction. Books written with this technique include In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, and Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.

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