Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Welcome Back, Peggy Jaeger

Writing a novella 

I talk. 

A lot.

really lot.

So it stands to reason when I write, I write a lot. 

The majority of my romance novels are 95,000 words, plus. You can tell just by the widths of the book spines how much I love to write words.

So having to pare down a book, get everything you need to say, said; every plot point you needed summed up, resolved; and every character arc complete and vivid, all in under 40,000 words – relatively less than half what I usually write – can be torture.

And a wonderful exercise in concise storytelling.

Writing a novella is no different from writing a full-length novel except for the number of words you use to get your story to a favorable ending.

Both have:
A three act structure (beginning, middle, end)
A hero and heroine you can and must root for
A plausible plot
An interesting setting ( the locale)
An interesting set-up (goal, motivation, conflict)
A full resolution of all plot points
Side characters ( although you can have more in a full length novel)
And, for romance, a meet/cute, conflict, then an HEA

All that in under 40,000 words.

I think to be a really good novella-ist ( is that  a word??) you have to be a really good EDITOR ( I know that one’s a word, hee hee). You have to have a brutal mindset when you kill all those filter and easy to write clutch words that you don’t need in a every single sentence in order to get your brilliant point across.

See now, in that sentence above? There were so many useless words that, although they could add to the word flavor of the story, are really NOT needed. Much better and more concise to have written: You have to be brutal and kill all filter and clutch words.

I’m not the best editor, I will admit that. I’m the type of writer who loves her words. All of them. All the time. Removing them is like hacking away little bits of my soul. 

But…once I know I’m writing a novella, I can learn to be brutal and bloodthirsty and do away with all the “stuff” that doesn’t add to the story.

My newest novella, VANILLA WITH A TWIST, part of the One Scoop or Two series from Wild Rose Press, was a joy to write. For the very first time in all my writing – big and little stories – I didn’t have to cull many of the words because I outlined the story to be as concise as possible with a narrow plotline that I kept to from beginning to end. Now, could I have made this into a 90k novel? Sure.  Easy peasy. But I settled on less than 35,000 when all was said and done, and still managed to fulfill all my story requirements. 

Disclaimer: No words were killed in the writing of this book. (Many, though, were tortured and buried while penning this blog piece!)

So, if you want to tackle a novella, remember, the old adage less is more is true for a reason. A very good one.

And if that paragraph were in a novella, I would cull the last 4 words.

Just sayin’.


Tandy Blakemore spends her days running her New England ice cream parlor, single-parenting her teenage son, and trying to keep her head above financial water. No easy feat when the shop's machinery is aging and her son is thinking about college. Tandy hasn't had a day off in a decade and wonders if she'll ever be able to live a worry-free life.

Engineer Deacon Withers is on an enforced vacation in the tiny seaside town of Beacher's Cove. Overworked, stressed, and lonely, he walks into Tandy's shop for a midday ice cream cone and gets embroiled in helping her fix a broken piece of equipment.

Can the budding friendship that follows lead to something everlasting?

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For a few moments, she regarded him with a look his mother would have called insightful. The corners of her eyes narrowed, she dipped her chin a hair, and she pulled her mouth into another appealing pout he was tempted to kiss. 
“I bet,” she said after a long, drawn-out sigh, “you were the kind of kid who took apart clocks and fans and vacuum cleaners to see how they worked.” 
“It was more washing machines and lawn mowers and anything with a motor, but yeah. I was.” 
She shook her head, her own lips forming a lopsided grin. “Your poor mother.” 
“She survived.” 
Tandy rolled her eyes and shot her hands to her hips. “So it’s working again?” She thrust her chin at the ice cream machine. 
“For now.” 
“Okay, well, I can live with for now. And you think you know the real reason it’s been acting up?” 
“I definitely do. But like I said, the water to the machine needs to be shut off to fix it.” 
“Okay. Well, we close at nine.” 
“I’ll come back a little before then. Get things ready. Is that okay with you?” 
“I guess it’ll have to be.” She bit down on the inside of her cheek as her brows pulled together. “And you’re sure you want to do this?” 
“If I weren’t, I wouldn’t offer, Tandy.” 
Why her reluctance to have him help was such a turn-on was something he considered while he waited for his ice cream. 

Author Bio and Social media links:

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes Romantic Comedies about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. If she can make you cry on one page and bring you out of tears rolling with laughter the next, she’s done her job as a writer!

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, she brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she’s created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

When she’s not writing Peggy is usually painting, crafting, scrapbooking or decoupaging old steamer trunks she finds at rummage stores and garage sales.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, Peggy is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go "What??!"

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Amazon Author Page:


  1. Thanks for the pointers. They translate to any writing I think.
    D. V.

    1. D.V. - that's true...but I do love to be verbose!
      Thanks for the support!

  2. Looks like another "delicious" winner, Peggy! Wishing you continued success.

    1. Mary, from you lips to God's ears! Bless you, girl!

  3. Great post and excerpt, Peg. Wishing you all the best!

  4. Judith - as always, thanks for the wonderful support!

  5. I'm in the process of writing a very short story. They want it around 5K. Not sure I can do that!!

    1. OMG I think 5000 is so tough. I've done it, but I always want to write....more!

  6. Very informative...and fun!

  7. Interesting post, Peggy! I admire authors who are able to write novellas. I imagine it's very challenging.

    1. CB that's a very nice way of describing it, heehee. Hellacious does nicely, too!!! hahahahaha

  8. Love your post, Peggy. I love my words--all of them--too, so I am blessed to have the help of crit partners when it's time to excise a scene. I have reached the place where I can occasionally hold my breath and perform the required surgery, but dang it hurts :) But what feels good is your latest here. Best of luck. I know it will be as yummy as all your books--short or long.

    1. Darling Barbara - you are such a boost to my fragile little ego!!!!! I really do have verbal diarrhea when it comes to writing!!!! Is there a literary equivalent to immodium??? ahaha