About Steve Hooley

Steve Hooley is the author of seven short stories published in four anthologies, a Vella serial fiction, and is currently working on the Mad River Magic series – a fantasy adventure series for advanced middle-grade to adults. More details available at: https://stevehooleywriter.com/mad-river-magic/

Reader Friday: Music to Your Words


Reading for the Pleasure of Reading?

Looking for Lyrical?




  • Lyrics – words of a poem, words to a song, from ancient Greek poetry accompanied by the lyre – a portable harp
  • Lyrical style (literature) – expressing the writer’s emotions in an imaginative and beautiful way

I recently read in Dean Koontz’s How to Write Best Selling Fiction, “The average reader demands eight things…” Number 8 was “…a style which embodies at least a trace of lyrical language and as many striking images as possible.”

John D. MacDonald was quoted in a Writer’s Digest, 3/15/16, interview, that he wanted “a bit of magic in his prose style, a bit of unobtrusive poetry. I want to have words and phrases really sing.”

Constance Hale, in Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch, quoted Joan Didion: “Grammar is a piano I play by ear, since I seem to have been out of school the year the rules were mentioned. All I know of grammar is its infinite power.”

  1. When you are looking for an enjoyable read, just for the pleasure of reading, do you have a favorite poet or a favorite author with a lyrical style?
  2. Who are those favorite poets and authors?

 If anyone would like a list from today’s discussion, I will compile a list and post it at the bottom of the comments (late tonight or tomorrow morning).

TKZ Words of Wisdom – Ladies’ Day at TKZ

Emotion, Beginnings, and Anti-heroes

Ladies’ Day at TKZ


Emotion in fiction

Why doesn’t fiction evoke the same response as film? I don’t believe it is because movies are more visual. What is more powerful than the blank screens of our own imaginations? I think it might be because today’s crime writers are leery of being labeled as soft when we go into matters of the heart.

I had a conversation with a high-placed editor a while back. She told me she has noticed two trends in crime fiction recently: the decline of hard-boiled “guy books.” And the continued strength of romantic suspense. Now, let’s not kid ourselves. There is some terrific hard-boiled stuff being written right now, books that don’t turn up their noses at emotions. Likewise, there is some utterly putrid romantic suspense on the shelves these days, stuff that gets everything about police procedure and forensics wrong and gets really treacly about the romance part. Maybe I’m just reading the wrong stuff. What has gotten to you? What has made you cry? Movies are easy. But give me some books as well.

Or am I wrong in my belief that there is still room for well-wrought (as opposed to over-wrought) emotion in today’s crime fiction? – P J Parish – February, 28, 2017



Which brings us to today’s topic: Great Beginnings.
For an example of a great beginning, let’s reach WAY back to a sort-of thriller, Rebecca, and its simple but great first line:
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
That line launches the spellbinding tale of its protagonist, who is haunted by the ghost of her husband’s dead wife. And there are many other great openers we could cite.
Here’s a link to the best 100 opening lines of novels, as chosen by the editors of American Book Review.
But those are mostly first lines of…ahem, “literary” novels. For Right now, let’s limit our discussion to the first lines of thriller novels.
You know ’em when you read ’em. They’re the ones that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck on page one and you don’t go to sleep until THE END.
So I’m wondering…what is the BEST grab-you-by-the-throat opening line (and para) you ever read in a suspense book? And what made it so good for you? – Kathryn Lilley Cheng – February 23, 2017


Why are we drawn to anti-heroes?

For me, I see them as flawed. They’re not perfect, like classic heroes in Hollywood or in literature were portrayed. I can relate to them better because it makes me feel as if, given the right circumstances, anyone can rise to the level of hero if they have a cause worth fighting for. We also want to see if they are redeemable. Give your anti-hero a chance to grab at redemption in your book and see if he takes it. Or will he find love from a strong woman? Once we get hooked on an anti-hero, we root for them and feel their pain more when they fall. We want them to get back up, because they’re “every man.” And the fact they are not cookie-cutter, and do surprising things and are unpredictable, they make the storytelling fun.

Who would have rooted for a high school teacher turned drug dealer if we hadn’t learned of his cancer, his concern for his family in the face of his financial meltdown, and his rising medical bills. He’s bucking a broken health care system like David standing before Goliath. He’s more worried over his family than his own recovery. He’s got nothing to lose.

Anti-heroes change our way of thinking about confrontation and empowerment. The right anti-hero can give voice to our frustrations and give us an alternative reality to find justice. – Jordan Dane – March 2, 2017

Please comment. What are your thoughts on emotion, beginnings, and antiheroes?

Reader Friday: How to Find Treasures in the Public Library

We normally have a short-form question and discussion on Reader Fridays, but today we have a special contribution by Dale Ivan Smith, a discussion of the pro tips and tricks to navigate the vast resources of the online library. What could be more appropriate for readers?

Thanks, Dale, for this post!


Dale Ivan Smith 


What to do if your public library is closed evenings, or Sundays, or any other time when you might need to access their resources? How do you find what you seek? 

 The 24/7 Online Library is the answer 

  • Your library card is the key to unlocking treasures online
  • You can do this 24/7
  • You can visit the online, always open library from anywhere you have internet access, not just at home
  • Be sure and pack your library card when you travel

 What You Will Find at the Public Library’s Website 

  • The web address may be on your library card
  • Once at your library’s home page, take a moment to look around
  • There will be a variety of links, perhaps a search box for the catalog and other library resources, perhaps current library events, hours etc.
  • You may find links in a drop-down menu and/or displayed directly on the home page

 What Treasure Do You Seek? 

  • Know what you are looking for
  • What aspect of this area of knowledge do you need?
  • Be as specific as you need, but also be willing to go general and then dive down
  • What areas of research does your story require?

 A Real World Example 

A patron came to me and asked for help in finding books on the U.S. Civil War. I took the patron to the section and did a short “reference interview,” asking questions. What aspect of the Civil War did they need? Military, social, political, economic, or something else? The answer was “economic.” I then asked if there were anything that they needed specifically in terms of economics of the Civil War. They said, “Currency.” After a little more back and forth, it turned out that they were looking for was a book that listed Confederate Paper Money, with current market valuations and condition grades. I love this example of a library search because it shows how starting out with a general subject / topic can put you on the wrong track, but , at the same time how to start general and then zero in on a topic by asking questions. 

 Your Guide 

  • Librarians are here to help
  • They can show you the lay of the land
  • They can teach you how to search on your own, which is especially useful when you are not inside the library building
  • You may be able to chat with a librarian online, too
  • Let them know that you are writing a book or article. Knowing that you are helps them help you
  • Plus, libraries love writers and authors.

 All-Purpose Library Search Tips 

  • Many online library resources such as the card catalog, databases, NoveList, and WorldCat, have a search box where you can type in what you are looking for. That “basic search” casts a wide net and won’t produce focused results like the “advance search” option will, which is where you can search by title, author, or subject, or even combinations of those. Typically, there is a toggle or link for advance search near the search box, or it might display once you’ve done a basic search.
  • A book’s catalog card (“records” in library speak) will display the title and author of the book in question, and then will show subject listings below, which is a very useful way of locating which topics a book might fall

 The Online Library Catalog 

  • Your first stop when looking for a book
  • Check from home to see if your library system owns a copy of the book that you seek
  • If the book is checked out, put yourself on the waiting list

 Research Tip: Evaluating Sources 

The University of Berkley has a very helpful checklist for evaluating published sources, especially books, for when you are doing research on a subject for a book or article of your own: https://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/evaluating-resources 

 NoveList (AKA Novelist Plus) 

  • A searchable database of fiction and non-fiction books
  • Each title will display any reviews about that book, as well as read-a-likes / similar books
  • You can search by title, author, or even subject
  • Recommended reading lists by subject are listed on the starting page
  • Useful if you are looking for non-fiction books on a particular topic, or wanting a good novel to refill your own creative well
  • You can also use it to find comp titles for a pitch or a query letter to an agent or an editor, or to use in a book description if you self-published
  • NoveList is available online at many public library websites

 In case you need more information check out this article at Reedsy’s blog: https://blog.reedsy.com/guide/how-to-write-a-query-letter/comp-titles/ 

  WorldCat and Interlibrary Loans 

  • WorldCat is a global library catalog
  • Your own library very likely has a link to it on their website. You may have to search for “WorldCat” or “Interlibrary Loan”.
  • It allows you to request books and articles from other library systems, both other public libraries and college and universities
  • Interlibrary loan is the library term for borrowing books and requesting articles from other libraries.
  • Typically, a book request will take a few weeks
  • You will need to create an ILL account so that you can request items. Check with a local librarian if you have any questions.


  • Overdrive is a major provider of eBooks and audio books to libraries around the world
  • You can borrow and read eBooks on your smart phone, tablet, Kindle, even your computer
  • Overdrive books will likely be listed in your library’s online catalog, and there will be link that takes you to the separate Overdrive catalog
  • Libby is now a widely available app for smart phones and tablets, which Overdrive created for patrons as a “one-stop” search and borrow experience.  Search for an eBook or audio book, borrow the book in the app, and then read or listen to that book in the app. 
  • Note: eBooks borrowed for Kindle work differently. Check with your local librarian for details
  • If you need help with this service, I recommend scheduling a visit to the library to have a staff member walk you through the process of searching and borrowing eBooks

Online Databases 

A host of electronic databases are available for libraries to subscribe to, and thus give librarians and patrons alike access. Budgets will determine which ones a library might be able to provide access to. Gale Databases are one of the most widely available, covering a host of topics from Academic articles to Health, Law, History, Science etc. You’ll need your library card to access them. 


I hope these tips come in handy. What library tips do you have to share? 

TKZ Words of Wisdom

Now and again we reach back into the TKZ archives for some timeless advice and offer them to you for discussion. Please reply, riff, or rant in the comments and interact with each other!

 Today our topics are self-publishing flexibility and options, themes and life lessons, and chasing trends. Let the discussion begin.


This is one reason I love our self-publishing options. We can play. We can go where we want to go without being tied to one brand or type of book. We can write short stories, novelettes, novellas, novels and series. When I’m not working on suspense, I like to challenge myself with a different voice for my boxing stories, my kick-butt nun novelettes, my zombie legal thrillers. I’m currently planning a collection of short stories that will be of the weird Fredric Brown variety. Why? Because I can, and because it keeps my writing chops sharp.

 Do not go gentle into that good night!

Write, write against the dying of the light! (apologies to Dylan Thomas). Refuse to believe you have diminished powers or have in any way lost the spark that compelled you to write in the first place. If they tell you that you just don’t have it anymore, throw your teeth at them. Who gets to decide if you can write? You do. And your answer is, I’ve still got it, baby, and I’m going to show you with this next story of mine!

So just keep writing and never decompose.

What about you? Are you in this thing to the end? – James Scott Bell, January 2014


However, I do know what life lesson my main character has to learn by the end of the story. This is essential for character growth and makes your fictional people seem more real. Usually, I include this emotional realization in my synopsis or plotting notes. It doesn’t always turn out the way I’d planned. Sometimes, this insight evolves differently as I write the story. Or maybe a secondary character has a lesson to learn this time around.

How about you? Do you deliberately devise a theme and the symbolism to support it before writing the story, or does it evolve from the storytelling itself? How do you even tell if a theme is present? Or is it the same as the life lesson learned by one of the characters? – Nancy J. Cohen, January, 2015


I mention this because I don’t think that it’s a good idea to aim at being the “next” of something. I understand that the “next” Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train is precisely what editors — some editors, anyway — are looking for. The entertainment business is reactive, not proactive. The gatekeepers don’t get in trouble for missing a hit; they get in trouble for pushing a project that winds up dead on arrival. The theory is that if a book has a troubled female protagonist who is an unreliable narrator, then readers who bought The Girl on the Train will buy and read that, too. At some point, however, that demand is going to run out, and you don’t want it to run out just before your book gets published.

I’m starting to see a number of Jack Reacher-type books, wherein a strong, silent type with an extraordinary skillset wanders into a town and reluctantly becomes involved in someone’s troubles. They’re not all bad books, but it’s almost impossible to read them with comparing them to Lee Child’s offspring, and to find them at least somewhat wanting. I would submit that one is better served by taking an element here and an element there from stories or series that you admire — whether successful or otherwise — and changing the narrative. P.G. Sturges does an excellent job of this in his “Shortcut Man” series. Dick Henry, the Shortcut Man, is an ex-cop who stays in one place, helping people with everyday problems by utilizing extra-legal means. Henry is Robert McCall, without the gravitas. Tim Hallinan pulls off a similar trick in his Junior Bender series, which features a cat burglar who works for criminals. Bender is Richard Stark’s Parker turned inside out.  Both protagonists are criminals, but likeable guys; they’re anti-heroes without the “anti-”, if you will.

What I would like to know is: what authors — or series — do you go to for inspiration? And I mean “inspiration” as a spark, not a model. – Joe Hartlaub, January, 2016


I will answer comments this morning, but will be away from my computer during the afternoon and will respond to those comments this evening. Thanks.

Reader Friday – 200,000 Scenes – 40 Chapters

Three days ago (Tuesday), my wife and I sold an office building where I had practiced medicine for thirty-five years of my 40-year career.

After a year of foot dragging and wanting me to give them the building, our local hospital finally got serious when they learned another hospital was interested in the property. Within two days we had a signed contract. Now the hospital can demolish the building and enlarge their parking lot.

Tuesday night I lay awake reflecting on what had occupied more than half of my life. I began tallying the number of patients I had seen: 100+ patients /week. 5000+ patients/year. 200,000+ patients in 40 years.

Each of those patients had a story to tell of their pain, suffering, injury, or aging. Each was ready to take on the conflict with the antagonist, and invited me to join the battle. And each visit resulted in a record of their story being entered into their chart – 200,000 stories (scenes) over a span of 40 years (chapters).

I started a new book 13 years ago when I began studying and writing fiction. It’s now time to write “THE END” at the back of the earlier book, those forty chapters of life, and close the book.

Thanks for allowing me to reflect.

Today’s discussion is endings:

  • What is your all-time favorite book ending?
  • What is your favorite ending you have crafted for one of your books?
  • Do you have a dream ending that you plan to work into a future book?

TKZ’s Words of Wisdom

Now and again we reach back into the TKZ archives for some timeless advice and offer them to you for discussion. Please reply, riff, or rant in the comments and interact with each other!

Today, we have discussions on violence and desensitization, reading reviews, and messy desks. Here’s to a spirited discussion.

In movies, books and television, I wonder sometimes if the downplayed violence–the off-screen murder that drives the meat of the plot–isn’t more of a disservice to society than their counterparts which take you and your senses into the true horror that violent crime inflicts. The dead butler in the library didn’t just arrive there to provide a puzzle for our sleuth to solve. He was a person whose last moments were anguished and wracked with agony. I’m not sure it’s good that the likes of Miss Marple, Jessica and Hercule are so able to push that aside.

Obviously, tastes vary. I respect that different forms of suspense attract different readers, but when it comes to desensitizing people to violence, I do wonder which form erodes the social fabric more. Or, as an alternative, does fiction have a measurable impact at all on such real-life sensitivities? What do you think? What are your violence thresholds? – John Gilstrap, January 2010


I know this is going to sound counter-intuitive, and for many authors, nearly impossible, but here’s my advice: don’t read your reviews, ever. Turn off that Google alert. Skip the Amazon reviews section. Ignore your GoodReads ratings. And if you must know what a blogger or traditional media reviewer is saying about your book, enlist someone you trust to skim the contents and give you the highlights.

This applies not only to negative reviews, but positive ones. Because here’s the thing. As we all know, a reader’s opinion of a book is enormously subjective. The way they approach a story can vary at different points in their lives, or even their day. They read things into it that you might never have intended–and they’re all going to have vastly different opinions about what worked and what didn’t. – Joe Moore, January 2013


I was pleased to read that this phenomenon is borne out in a book called The Perfect Mess by Dave Freedman and Eric Abrahamson which contends that those with cluttered, messy desks are often more efficient and creative than their neatnik brethren. Since my desk always looks like a disaster zone, I think I am going to stick with the Freedman/Abrahamson interpretation…but nonetheless I have to wonder whether most writers are like me – or whether I am just deluding myself that disorder is merely a sign of a great author in the making.

So, what about my fellow writers? Do you, like me, have a messy desk full of piles of paper or are you a neat freak with everything organized and de-cluttered for the sake of productivity and sanity? What do you think, is a messy desk a sign of creativity or just plain slovenliness? – Clare Langley-Hawthorne, February 2011

I will respond to comments this morning. This afternoon I will be away from my computer for a family gathering, and I will respond to your comments later this evening.

Reader Friday: Crossword Puzzles

The first crossword puzzle was published December 21, 1913, in The New York World by British journalist, Arthur Wynne. 109 years later, crossword puzzles remain wildly popular. A Google search revealed 10 free online crossword puzzles on the first page.

Being slow on these matters, I wondered, Are there free crossword puzzle builders? And, yes, there are. Here’s an article that lists “the best,”

What could be the benefit of using crossword puzzles for businesses or creatives? Well, here’s a link to that article:

And, being trained to keep asking, “What if,” and to think outside the box, I wondered if anyone is using crosswords on their blogs to engage readers.

So, I thought I would ask you, the TKZ community:

Here are today’s questions:

  1. Do you do any crossword puzzles?
  2. Why do you do them?
  3. Which ones do you like best?
  4. Have you ever thought of using crossword puzzles in your blogs to engage readers?

The First – “TKZ Words of Wisdom” post

Now and again we reach back into the TKZ archives for some timeless advice and offer them to you for discussion. Please reply, riff, or rant in the comments and interact with each other!

Write what you know. Good God, how many times have we heard that over the years? As if Jack Ryan was Tom Clancy’s pseudonym, or Lincoln Rhyme Jeffery Deaver’s. For way too many years, that write-what-you-know counsel was a real problem for me. I grew up in suburban DC, a middle-class white kid with no respectable non-academic. What the hell was I supposed to write about that was, you know, interesting?

As I got a little older, I came to realize what my writing instructors really meant with that cryptic advice: you have to be convincing. Unless you’ve loved, you’ll never be able to write about it convincingly. Until you’ve had a child and you’ve surrendered that part of your soul to another human being, I don’t think you can write parental angst in a way that will convince parents who are living it. It’s not about relaying events that you know; it’s about conveying emotions that you’ve experienced. – John Gilstrap, August 2008


I got an email the other day from a beginning writer who was working on her first book. She had read some of my novels and enjoyed them, and she asked if I had any advice on helping her strengthen her writing. I could have given her many answers to that question including creating an outline, researching carefully, developing strong characters, accuracy, compelling plot, etc. But what I decided to tell her was that the best way to strengthen her writing was to choose the right words.

I know that may sound almost too basic. After all, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the right words in the right order can make for good writing. But I suggested that once she completed her first draft and started the rewriting process, she spend time considering if she needed an alternative to her action and descriptive words. I’m not advocating a thesaurus-intensive approach to writing, just a conscious effort to consider if there’s a better, stronger, more visual alternative to power and descriptive words. – Joe Moore, June, 2009


How do you fit romance into a non-stop thriller? These genres are not mutually exclusive. Look at your movies for examples. Romancing the Stone with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, and The Librarian: Quest for the Spear with Noah Wyle and Sonya Walger are two of my favorites. What recent thrillers have you seen where a romantic relationship is involved? How did the film get this across to viewers?

Here’s how to start with your own story: Give your characters internal and external conflicts to keep them apart. The external conflict is the disaster that will happen if the villain succeeds. The internal conflict is the reason why your protagonists hesitate to get involved in a relationship. Maybe the heroine was hurt by a former lover and is afraid of getting burned again. Or she has a fierce need for independence. Why? What happened in her past to produce this need? Maybe your hero doesn’t want a wife because his own parents went through a bitter divorce, and secretly he feels unworthy of being loved. Or maybe he feels that his dangerous lifestyle wouldn’t suit a family. Keep asking questions to deepen your people’s motivations. – Nancy J. Cohen, December 2012

Let the conversation begin!

Foreshadowing: A Look Back and a Look Forward

by Steve Hooley

I enjoy browsing the archives of the Kill Zone Blog from time to time. There are many posts hiding here that contain a wealth of wisdom and good advice and are worth rereading.

Recently, I was looking for articles on foreshadowing and found buried treasure in a post by Jodie Renner from January, 2014. I had glanced at several discussions of foreshadowing and found that Jodie’s article was concise, well organized, and perfect for our discussion today.

Since it has been eight years, I thought it was worth revisiting and using for today’s discussion. So, nuggets of wisdom from the past (the archives) and a discussion on ways we can set up the narrative for the future

I have summarized the article below, but the original article is well worth rereading.

Fire Up Your Fiction with Foreshadowing


Keep your reader curious and worried, and keep them turning pages.


“Foreshadowing is about sprinkling in subtle little hints and clues…about possible revelations, complications, and trouble to come.”

Uses and Purposes:

  • To lay the ground work for future tension
  • To reveal character traits, flaws, phobias, weaknesses, and secrets to increase reader engagement
  • To add credibility and continuity to your plot so that changes and events are more believable


  • Show a pre-scene or mini-example of what happens in a big way later
  • Protagonist hears conversation or gossip that doesn’t make sense until later
  • Hint at secrets or memories your protagonist has been hiding and trying to forget
  • The news warns of possible danger
  • The main character notices other character’s unusual or suspicious actions, reactions, tone of voice, facial expressions, or body language
  • Show protagonist’s inner fears and suspicions
  • Use setting details and word choices to create an ominous mood
  • Protagonist or someone close has disturbing dream or premonition
  • Fortune teller or horoscope foretells trouble
  • Make the ordinary seem ominous or plant something out of place
  • Use objects a character ignores while they are looking for something else
  • Use symbolism


No author intrusion giving an aside to the reader


  • Non-outliners – write the story then add the foreshadowing
  • Use like a strong spice – not too much, not too little
  • Operative word is subtle


Hopefully Jodie will be able to stop by today, say hello, answer some questions in the comments, and add any additional points or tips she’s acquired since 2014.

By the way, a thorough discussion on foreshadowing is found in Jodie’s book, Writing a Killer Thriller, an Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction.


Questions and Discussion

  1. What are your favorite techniques for foreshadowing?
  2. In your favorite books, what techniques for foreshadowing have been most likely to create (in you) anticipation or foreboding?
  3. What other techniques for foreshadowing can you think of?
  4. What other uses for foreshadowing can you think of?

The Novella – Compact Utility Vehicle or Sports Car



The Novella

by Steve Hooley


The novella is an interesting part of fiction history and the current fiction panorama. It played a role in the development of other forms of current fiction and is being used more in today’s fast-paced publishing environment.

A review of The Kill Zone’s archives (for novella) revealed three articles by James Scott Bell, Joe Moore, and Jordan Dane. It’s been 6-10 years since those posts, so let’s take another look at the Novella.


The word “novella” is the feminine form of “novello,” Italian (masculine) for “new.”

The novella has been described as “a short novel or a long short story.” Its length is listed as 10,000 – 40,000 words (some sources say 20,000 – 50,000 or even 15,000 – 60,000). The novella usually has a single plotline, is focused on one character, and “can be read in a single day.” It may or may not be divided into chapters, and white space is traditionally used to divide sections.

Examples of novellas that used chapters:

  • Animal Farm – George Orwell
  • War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells

During its history, the novella has been used in different ways. Let’s see if it is the “load-it-up-with-everything compact utility vehicle” or a “fast-sexy-Italian sports car.”


The Britannica entry for Novella (summarized) states that the novella originated in Italy during the Middle Ages, where its form was originally based on local events (humorous, political, or amorous). Writers such as Boccaccio, Sacchetti, and Bandello later developed it into a psychologically subtle and structured short tale, using a frame story to unify.

Chaucer introduced it to England with The Canterbury Tales.

During the Elizabethan period, Shakespeare and other playwrights used plots from the Italian novella.

The content and form of these tales influenced development of the English novel in the 18th century, and the short story in the 19th century.

The novella flourished in Germany (known as Novelle) in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, often contained in a frame story and based on a catastrophic event. It was characterized by brevity, a self-contained plot, and ending with irony, while using restraint of emotion and an objective presentation.

Examples of novellas:

  • Tolstoy – The Death of Ivan Ilich
  • Dostoyevsky – Notes from the Underground
  • Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness
  • Henry James – The Aspern Papers

Tips on Writing

Three great posts on TKZ by James Scott Bell, Joe Moore, and Jordan Dane are well worth rereading. I’ve summarized their tips on writing here:

James Scott Bell – 8-12-12

  • Use one plot
  • One POV
  • One central question
  • One style and tone
  • Have a rock-solid premise
  • Write in the heat of passion
  • Use white space to designate scene changes
  • Keep asking, “How can it get worse?”

Joe Moore – 4-29-15

  • Keep it short for a quick read, for the time-deprived reader

Jordan Dane – 4-21-16

  • Plots must be simpler
  • Minimize subplots
  • Setting, description, and prose must be simplified
  • Novellas are like screenplays – focus on dialogue and major plot movements
  • Novellas are like visuals of a film

Current Uses

From Jordan’s post

  • Generate buzz for an upcoming novel, ex: short backstory for MC
  • Enhance cash flow
  • Character focus – focus on MC or interesting secondary character
  • Advance tease for upcoming project
  • Writing time filler between projects
  • Discount price

From Joe’s post

  • A quick read for busy readers

Additional Ideas

Since the novella has evolved over time and could conceivably continue to change, this could be fertile ground for a right brain playground.

  • Opportunity to experiment with a character-oriented story
  • Opportunity to develop a secondary character
  • Edit an anthology into a novella with a frame story and a common theme to run through each section
  • Experiment with new ways to separate sections
  • Create new subcategories of the novella
  • How about a men’s fiction subcategory – The Novello
  • The “reader magnet” as a reward for signing up for a newsletter. It’s getting increasing use.


Okay, it’s your turn.

  1. Have you written a novella?
  2. What’s your favorite use of the novella?
  3. What ideas can you think of to make the novella truly novella (new)?
  4. Any ideas to put your personal stamp on it?
  5. Can you add a subcategory?
  6. Would you like to help shape its history?
  7. Any other novella/novello ideas?