Novella Writing with Mandy Pannett
Thursday 8 December 2016 @ Goring Methodist Church Hall, Worthing
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.