Novella Writing with Mandy Pannett

Thursday 8 December 2016 @ Goring Methodist Church Hall, Worthing

Mandy Pannett
Mandy will be taking us through the process of developing novellas and option for marketing them. This is a growing fiction format and an ideal time to try your hand at it.
Mandy Pannett works freelance as a creative writing tutor and has taken part in readings across the country as well as leading residential and day workshops. Her poetry has appeared in journals in the UK, Europe, Canada and the States. Five poetry collections have been published – Bee Purple and Frost Hollow (Oversteps Books), Allotments in the Orbital (Searle Publishing), All the Invisibles (SPM Publications) and Jongleur in the Courtyard (Indigo Dreams Press). Her next poetry collection is due to be published in 2017. She is the author of a novella, The Onion Stone, which was published by Pewter Rose Press in 2011. She is poetry editor for Sentinel Literary Quarterly and editor of the anthology Poems for a Liminal Age (SPM Publications), published in support of Médecins Sans Frontières. She has also edited a poetry collection and an anthology for Earlyworks Press. She has been placed in several national competitions as well as acting as adjudicator for others. Mandy is involved in helping to organise activities for next year’s South Downs Poetry Festival, is taking part in fund-raising events in aid of the displaced and is currently working on her second novella.

Review of the meeting

The final meeting of 2016 was a talk on novella writing by Mandy Pannett, who told club members that with the upsurge in digital publishing, there has also been renewed interest in novella writing. Many established authors of novel series are writing shorter works, adding to the worldbuilding or backstory of their protagonists and/or antagonists, while literary authors are also using the medium. Mandy showed us a copy of her own novella The Onion Stone, which was published in 2011. She informed us that a novella is approximately between 25,000 and 50,000 words, so needs tighter writing and more pace than the average novel, which has more time and wordage to establish characters and set the scene. She also said that many novellas are sited in an enclosed setting where there is a limited cast of characters.

Several examples of fine novellas were mentioned including George R.R. Martin’s Fevre Dream and Lois McMaster Bujold’s recent short series starting with Penric and the Demon. The most famous novella of all is arguably Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.

The second half of Mandy’s talk involved a writing workshop where she took an extract from Plutarch’s Lives about Antony’s defeat at the hands of Caesar, which was used by the poet C.P. Cavafy in his poem ‘The God Abandons Antony’, which was clearly also read by Leonard Cohen before he wrote the words to his song ‘Alexandra Leaving’, which Mandy played to us. We then had an opportunity to write a piece of writing using some of the themes of courage in the face of defeat, music playing and a sense of betrayal. Some of us were given the opportunity to read our efforts to the group and the quality of the writing produced was impressive.

The meeting ended with the awarding of our very own Oscar trophy for contribution to the group. This was awarded to Paul Whitham, who stood down from the Publicity role after several years, at the AGM.

It was an interesting, enjoyable evening.