Ruby Release – DANGEROUS BOYS Anthology

Life’s Too Short – Write a Novella

Have you noticed how popular novellas are lately? I totally get why. Writers like me, who take anywhere from six to twelve months to write a full novel, can get a novella written and published in a fraction of that time. For readers, a short, satisfying story can be devoured in a sitting or two. And that’s terrific for the chronically time-poor. When I was asked to join forces with four dangerous Australian/New Zealand writers for the DANGEROUS BOYS YA e-novella anthology (out now!), I jumped at the chance to try out the art of writing a novella.

The DANGEROUS BOYS YA novella anthology — out now!

The DANGEROUS BOYS YA anthology — out now!

But how long should a novella be? After doing a quick search online, I discovered that’s a bit like asking, “How long is a piece of string?” It depends on the publisher. Fiction magazines generally call for short story word counts of 500 to 1,500 words, even up to 5,000. Novellas can range from 20,000 to 40,000 words. Obviously, if you’re targeting a publisher, check their guidelines.

So now that you have those vague estimates on word counts, how do you pack a complete story into a little package? The way I approached LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG (out now!) was to plot it out like full-length novel. After all, like a regular story, it needed a beginning, middle and end. Character-wise, my two main protagonists share the spotlight. It’s all about them. The small supporting cast stays on the periphery. I didn’t delve too far into the secondary characters’ backstories; I have an evil plan to give each of them their own novellas down the track. Given I had a limit of 25,000 words, subplots went out the window. Mechanics-wise, I zapped the bad things I do so well, like waffling and padding.

You can see the results in my YA novella, LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG. Did I mention it’s out now? 🙂 Ironically, it’s about a boy who hasn’t got long to live. He’s hell-bent on doing as many dangerous things as he can in the time he’s got left. Here’s the official blurb:

Molly Corbett can’t stand seeing her childhood pal Alex Gibson destroy himself. He’s gone from straight-A student to rebel without a cause. With so much at stake, some serious interference is called for—or at least Micromanaging Molly thinks so. Alex needs to get back on the path to the Ivy League. But the harder Molly pushes Alex, the harder he pushes back.

Alex has a secret. Well, two secrets.

Number one: He has terminal melanoma. With six months to live, Alex hasn’t got a second to waste. And hanging around hospitals when his friends think he’s cutting school definitely counts as wasted time. Instead, he’s going to drop out, surf, drive fast cars…and finally put secret number two out there. He’s in love with Molly and he’s going to tell her before it’s too late.


Edgy, and yet wonderfully tender, “Live Fast, Die Young” sent me to reader heaven! ~ Tina Ferraro, author of THE ABC’S OF KISSING BOYS

Read the first chapter on my website.

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Today I’m giving away a Kindle e-copy of the DANGEROUS BOYS anthology, which features five dangerous novellas by five dangerous YA authors from down under. Simply tell me what you love about reading or writing novellas in the comments below. Perhaps you can also tell me what the “right” word count ought to be for a novella! The winner will be announced here tomorrow. Good luck!

31 responses to “Ruby Release – DANGEROUS BOYS Anthology”

  1. Darynda says:

    I’m so excited for this!!! Congrats and great post!

  2. Hi Vanessa! Hi Ruby Sisters!

    Vanessa, huge congratulations on your new novella collection – I loved Live Fast, Die Young when I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy. Oh, sob! And tingles. And lovely emotion. Gorgeous stuff. Don’t put me in the draw – I’ve had the collection on pre-order forever.

    I’ve fallen in love with novella length – I’m planning on having five out this year. Up from three last year. At that rate by 2020, I’ll have one out a week! Well, maybe not! As you say, we’re all so chronically time poor and readers love new material. It seems like a win-win to me.

    When it comes to length, I think it depends on the story. More string in my answer, huh!

    • Wow, FIVE novellas out this year, Anna?! You are a marvel! But keep doing it, because I absolutely adore your historical novellas.

      LOL to that string! When I began my novella, I couldn’t imagine it getting past 20K. But the further I got, the more I realised it needed the characters needed just little bit more time to round out their story.

      Thanks so much for saying such lovely things about my dangerous boy. It’s definitely a three-tissue story! 🙂

  3. Hi Vanessa, can I say first how much I love the trailer. It makes me want to read not just your novella but all the others too! (But I’ll turn to yours first!)
    So many of us are time-poor these days. I always used to enjoy reading short stories in women’s magazines – they’ve pretty much disappeared (in the ones I see, anyway.) The novella fills the gap nicely.
    I always thought a novella ranged from 10,000 words to 40,000 words with many sitting somewhere in between. I wrote one last year as part an anthology and it came in at around 17,000 words. I’ve been asked by a publisher to write one at 10,000. As you mention, the challenge is to keep the focus very close and ensure the story evolves and resolves. Don’t put me in the draw, I’m going to buy DANGEROUS BOYS right now! Hope it sells its socks off!

    • Oh, Kandy, that’s so lovely of you to buy Dangerous Boys — thank you! And I’m super happy you love the trailer. I really enjoyed making it. However, for a while there, I got dangerously obsessed with fonts!

      I really miss those 500-word fiction pieces in mags, especially the ones with clever twists in the tail/tale. 🙂 I’ll check out your novella!

      Thanks for dropping by! x

  4. Annie West says:

    Ooh, Vanessa, what a premise for a story. You do edgy so well. Can’t wait to read this one. Laughing at you taking out all the padding. Hard, isn’t it?

    • Thanks so much, Annie! This story just really poured out. I was so sad when it ended. (Oops, there I go again — using my typical padding works like “just”!)

  5. Pintip says:

    Hi Vanessa! Mega congrats! You know how much I love this novella! It is one of the best things you’ve written, in my opinion (I know! This is high praise because you’ve written so many wonderful things!) I recently wrote my first novella myself, and I absolutely loved it. It’s like what you said. Full length stories take so long, and it’s very satisfying to be able to turn a story you love around in a much shorter time. I hope to write many more!!

    • Oh, Pintip, thank you for your incredible support on this story — and everything else! I’m glad you’ve caught the novella-writing bug too. Something I really loved about writing a shorter story was that it didn’t feel like such a long and arduous task. A target of 25K was less daunting than a target of 85K, which was the length of my last book!

      *Your* first novella, btw, is fabulous and I can’t wait for the rest of the world to read it and love it as much as I did!

  6. Yay! Excited for the anthology! I’ve been reading quite a bit of YA lately:)

    Also, I love novellas. I find them way less intimidating than sitting down to write 90k+ words. And as a reader, I love them as well for exactly why you said–a satisfying story in a short amount of time.

    • Hi, Laura! You nailed it — it’s less intimidating to write a novella. Anyone who’s feeling stuck and unable to finish a full-length novel might want to try something shorter. In my case, it had been such a long time since I actually finished a story. Felt *amazing* to finish LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG!

      Looking forward to catching up with you at Nationals and talking about the YA books you’re reading! Thanks for stopping by today. 🙂

  7. Addison Fox says:


    Congrats on your new release!!!! This book sounds WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!! Can’t wait to dive in!!!


  8. Erika Kelly says:

    DOES HE LIVE? You’re killing me here. I have to drop everything now and read this story.

    Love this concept for an anthology–can’t wait to read it!

  9. McCall Hoyle says:

    Vanessa, great post! Very helpful novella info. Awesome blurb! Happy release, friend. Can’t wait to see you in SD. <3

  10. Nan Dixon says:

    As always – I love your incredible premises! Congratulations on this release!

  11. Wow, Vanessa. This sounds great. I’m hooked.

  12. Kate Parker says:

    Terrific premise, Vanessa. You got my attention.

    And I’m in the 20,000 to 25,000 camp for novellas. The Christmas ones I’ve written have barely broken 21,000., but I find it’s enough time to tell a good story.

    • Kate, I agree that a great story can be told in that relatively short word count. Thanks very much for stopping by. Glad to hear the premise got your attention! 🙂

  13. Many thanks to everyone who stopped by today. the winner of my Dangerous Boys anthology download is…ADDISON FOX! Congrats, Addison! I’ll be in contact shortly!


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