Thursday, July 22, 2010

Novellas: the Embrace Golden Rules

Novellas are notoriously hard to write. I've received a few in the past week, and they have all been competently written, which is lovely to see.

However, I'm flagging up here that I need to see the full manuscript if you're sending a novella. Along with at least a 2 page synopsis, please. Just because it's short doesn't mean I want to glean the plot by reading through it.

What about length? To my mind, if it's over 15,000 words but under 25,000, then it's a novella. Any less than 15,000 words and we're in short story territory, albeit at its far boundaries. Then there's a no-woman's-land between 25K and about 50K, where short romances need to end up if they are to be called novels.

A romance novella needs to be structured like a mini-romance. It has numbered chapters, it has character arcs, it has a well-defined plot - but everything works in miniature.

Due to its kaleidoscope nature, the romance novella demands a super-swift entrée into the world of hero and heroine. We don't have time for leisurely introductions. Throw the two together on the first page, preferably in a violent or shocking manner, and you will get a big tick from me - and if you can continue pushing them together, especially physically, you may even get a gold star!

So the golden rules of an Embrace novella are:
  1. Link hero and heroine on the first page, if possible
  2. Keep the pace relentless throughout
  3. Follow the structure of a novel, but in miniature
  4. Begin physical intimacy much earlier than in a standard novel
  5. You can never have enough intimacy in a romance: find a way to force them together - and keep them there!
  6. Submit the whole manuscript along with a synopsis. See Guidelines for details.


  1. Thanks for this, Jane. Rarely do writers receive such a clear and present guide to what an imprint is really seeking. I'm wearing my Toni Sands hat but have contacted you via romna as Sandra Mackness.

  2. Thanks for the details. This should help both yourself and writers..:)

  3. Cheers, Toni and L'Aussie (love that name!). Do please blog about Embrace. I'm trying very hard to spread the word here, get more followers and subscribers for our free monthly newsletter. It's all happening!


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