Nancy Fraser makes a return visit to Journeys with Jana to tell us about TEACH ME, Book 3 in her Lusty Liaisons series. Since Nancy writes "short" or novella length, she wants to let us know what goes into writing a book of a shorter length. From experience, I can tell you the same amount of effort goes into writing a novella as something much longer. Welcome Nancy! Glad to have you back.
The Art of Writing Short
While most writers/authors strive to create that great novel, be it romance or mystery or thriller, there are distinct advantages to being able to write a shorter length novella or short story.
However, there’s a huge difference in being able to write “short” vs being able to write “complete”. Writing something short, e.g., 10,000 – 40,000 words, takes as much skill (if not more) than writing 80,000 words. The challenge is to tell a complete story within the context of the shorter length.
As a reader, I prefer reading shorter books as well. Books I can finish in a couple of hours, yet tell a full and rewarding story without all the ephemeral stuffing. Nothing irks me more than to come across pages and pages of unnecessary filler. I’d much rather read something that’s non-stop story from front to back. I find I’m far more satisfied.
As the writer of shorter pieces, I find the planning to be more intricate. I know I’ve only got so many pages in which to get from that first meeting (be it instant attraction or dislike), to the happily-ever-after.
Going into the book, I have to develop a firm character outline so that I know my heroine, hero, and supporting characters inside out. I have to have my black moments defined before I write them, and I have to (in my head at least) have my conclusion envisioned.
With my new release, Teach Me, (15,000 words) writing short wasn’t as much of a challenge as usual because the story was intended to take place in one, hot and steamy, night. So, as much as you’d think you can’t develop character in a string of lovescenes, you definitely can. All you need to do is show vulnerability, acceptance, and resolution of the character’s main reason for embarking on their one-night-stand.
In my upcoming Cougars & Cubs, age-gap romance, Seduced by the Handyman, (26,000 words) I had to develop a full, strong relationship and a plausible reason why their 15 year age difference would work. That meant a full story, challenges, resolutions, and happily-ever-after. It also meant weaving in supporting characters and giving just enough to fill out the story, but not enough that any of them would take over parts of the plot.
Writing the shorter length has become my ultimate writing plan. On occasion, I do push the boundaries and write 55-60,000 words, but not often. They say, “write what you love” and for me, shorter is the way to go.
Can this tenured professor create the best lesson plan for her ultimate satisfaction?
Med student Jayne Willis is devastated when she's stood up for a date arranged by hookup service Lusty Liaisons. Really, who stands up someone willing to have sex?
Widowed professor Noah Gallagher's chance encounter at a hotel bar with an alluring young woman is unexpected but might be just what he needs. He's on the last leg of a cross-country trip prior to returning to the university, ready to start a new chapter in his life.
One lonely widower looking to reconnect plus one beautiful, albeit inexperienced, young woman equals one hot night. Will she get an A in lovemaking, and will he get a hall pass back to life?
A quick, hot shower, clean T-shirt and jeans, and Noah was back in the lobby within twenty minutes. The bar was nearly empty except for an older couple enjoying martinis at a corner table, a middle-aged man in a cheap suit nursing a beer at the bar, and a young woman, no doubt barely legal, sitting alone in a two-person booth.
The woman intrigued him. Not just because she was attractive—which she was—but because he couldn’t fathom why she’d be there alone. Or why she’d come out on a night like this if she didn’t have to.
The idea of someone standing her up for a date was ludicrous. Her bright-red, pouty lips and long dark hair revived his dormant senses. He took a seat at the end of the bar closest to where she sat. If nothing else, he could chance an occasional glance and daydream about what it would be like to make love to her.
He’d just ordered a scotch, neat, when he sensed someone standing beside him.
“You wouldn’t happen to be Carl, would you?”
Noah glanced over his shoulder and came face to face with the woman. He turned slightly to get a better look. Up close, she was astonishingly beautiful, from her deep-set, chocolate-brown eyes, to her pink-tinged cheeks, to those luscious lips.
“No,” he said, “I’m not. Unfortunately.”
She smiled, and her cheeks darkened a deeper shade of rose. “Oh,” she responded. “Sorry I bothered you.”
“No bother. You’re welcome to join me if you don’t want to sit alone. At least until Carl gets here.”
A look of relief washed over her face, and she slid onto the stool next to his. “I’m pretty sure I’ve been stood up.”
“Well then, Carl’s a fool.” He shot her a grin. “Blind date?”
“Sort of,” she admitted.
“What does ‘sort of’ mean exactly?”
She shook her head, her gaze fixed on the top of the mahogany bar. “It’s complicated.”
When had a blind date become something other than a blind date?
He stuck out his hand. “I’m Noah, by the way. Noah Carpenter.” She put her hand in his, the simple touch of her soft skin against his palm bringing his entire body to full alert.
“I’m Jayne Willis.”
“Nice to meet you, Jayne. What’s so complicated? Either you know this Carl fellow, or someone’s set you up on a blind date.” When she just shrugged, he added, “I know a few of my friends have set me up with some pretty disastrous results.”
She let out a long sigh. “It wasn’t a friend. It was a service, a specialized dating service.”
“Like a matching service?” he asked, a slight cringe running through him at the thought of ever having to rely on a dating app to find a woman.
“It’s not a find-your-soulmate type of dating app.” She glanced from side to side and lowered her voice. “It’s just for…uh…you know…sex. One night only, no expectations.”
He nearly choked on his drink. By the time he stopped coughing, his eyes were watering, and Jayne, bless her sexy soul, was laughing hysterically. “Just sex?” he said as soon as he could catch his breath.
She nodded and pursed her lips to hold in another laugh. “Yes, just sex.”
The thought of volunteering to take Carl’s place sat perched on the tip of his tongue. He wrestled with making an outright offer, wondering if the boldness of it would scare her way. So instead, he went with, “That’s some dating service.”
Like most authors, Nancy began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.
Published in multiple genres, Nancy currently writes for three publishers and has recently dipped her toe into the self-publishing market. She has published over thirty books in full-length, novella, and short format.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five energetic grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nfraserauthor @nfraserauthor