By Piper Huguley
When I started writing at the age of 12, I was always in the writing game for the long haul. I loved writing the novel. Back in those days, I wrote them in longhand. Friends of mine would read my awful handwriting in stapled-together notebooks that would be numbered one after the other since no one notebook would be able to hold the whole thing together.
My parents bought me a typewriter, and then a word processor, but even then, daisy wheels and ribbons (remember those days) made printing out my long novels very expensive.
I had a more difficult time in graduate school. Graduate school creative writing is more conducive to writing short stories because of the format of the workshop, and I certainly couldn’t write that short. Every time I would be workshopped people would say—“This feels like a novel.” And I would feel defeated. Writing short seemed impossible. It’s a wonder they let me graduate.
Fast forward to the January 2014 GRW meeting. Beverley Kendall spoke about the self-publishing data she had gathered. She noted a commonality in the success of novels in a series. She said, the first book should be a bargain book, free for a time or permafree. That first book, priced low or free, acts as a funnel to the rest of the series. She said writers don’t like putting a novel out for free at any point–too long. So, she said, write a novella.
Hmmm. So I started my first novella that weekend. I decided to tell the love story of my heroine’s parents and what that love story had to do with her heritage. To learn how to write something new, I usually turn to craft books. However there aren’t a lot of craft books on writing novellas. Instead, I read a number of the bargain or free novellas. I learned about the form and approach of a novella in that way. Other writing blogs, like Seekerville in novella posts, helped me as well.
It took some time to study the form, but strangely, given my beginnings in doing the marathon of the novel, I was not daunted about writing short at all. Maybe because the story wasn’t for a class. It was a fun little project about how these two got together and fell in love. That novella is The Lawyer’s Luck—which came out at the beginning of July. For a first effort by a newbie writer in a small niche, it’s doing very well. The Lawyer’s Luck is serving the purpose of opening minds to the world I’m looking to explore in the “Home to Milford College” series. One of the early reviews said that it felt like a complete story, so I’m pleased. It’s is always a good thing to stretch as a writer and I’m glad this story reminded me of that.
Piper G Huguley is the author of “Migrations of the Heart,” a five-book series of inspirational historical romances set in the early 20th century featuring African American characters. Book one in the series, A Virtuous Ruby won the Golden Rose contest in Historical Romance in 2013 and is a Golden Heart finalist in 2014. Book four in the series, A Champion’s Heart, was a Golden Heart finalist in 2013. Book one in her new 19th century historical series, The Preacher’s Promise, in the “Home to Milford College” series was a semi-finalist in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest and will be self-published in July 2014.
She blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.
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