I’m stoked! May is Creative Beginnings month, so it’s only appropriate that I’d be embarking on a new creative venture. On May 1st, I received a contract for a new historical novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff. This story is a first for me in two ways. Number one: It’s the first piece of “new” writing I’ve sold. My first two books were originally written many years ago, so it’s reassuring to know I haven’t completely lost the touch. Number two: It was my first venture into writing a novella length story. Because several writers have expressed an interest in trying out this format, I thought I’d share my observations and experience.
When you’re used to writing 90K word novels, telling a complete story in 24K words is a challenge. At first, the rhythm didn’t come naturally to me. I had to stop and think about the structure far more often than I usually do. One technique I used to help with pacing was to shorten my usual 20 page chapters to 10 pages. For me, that helped moved the story along.
My long novels generally take place across several months, but for the novella, I compressed the time period to a couple of weeks so I wouldn’t have to scrimp on the number or quality of scenes. The abbreviated time frame also affected the progression of the romance. This is the first story I’ve written without a consummated love scene because I wanted the relationship to develop in a believable way within the context of the novella format.
Also, I sacrificed description, exposition and internal narrative in favor of dialogue. My books are always dialogue-heavy, but after the first chapter (when the hero is unconscious), this story is at least 75% dialogue. In some ways, it was more like writing a screenplay than a novel, but it forced me to let the characters drive the story. I’m happy to say they pulled out a few surprises and did a terrific job!
Here’s the blurb for The Treasure of Como Bluff:
In a race against rival bone hunters, the last complication paleontologist Caroline Hubbard needs is a dead man with a love letter in his pocket cluttering up her dig site. Her troubles multiply when she discovers the “deceased” stranger is still very much alive. He might have the chiseled features and impressive physique of a classical statue, but she’s not about to let him hamper her quest to unearth a new species of dinosaur and make her mark on the scientific world.
Nicholas Bancroft has come to
in search of silver, but after a blow to the head, he finds himself at the mercy of a prickly, determined female scientist. Despite his insistence that he’s just passing through, Caroline persuades him to help her stage an elaborate charade to save her job—a charade which casts Nick in the role of her husband. Wyoming
Once the masquerade plays out, they face a big decision. Will they be able to look beyond their separate goals and see the true treasure right in front of them?