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Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Writing an Ensemble Novella!

You’ve seen ensemble movies, I’m sure. Those great pieces like Love, Actually where there are a lot of characters who interact and you get to see a bit of each of their stories. You also know what a novella is -- it’s a short book. The two would not seem to go together. But for some strange reason, when publisher Loose Id called for holiday story proposals this year the plot that came to my mind was a short book (32,000 words) with seven main characters! The book, called Mistletowed, tells the story of five close friends, two M/F couples and a gay mathematician who is their pal. Two other characters introduce themselves into the plot -- a man that one of the women tries to fix up with their gay friend, and the male cousin of another of the women who feels compelled to come visit her just before the holidays. The story tells how all these people are influenced by what may or may not be a piece of magical mistletoe. When I tell you that the story is M/M, M/F and M/M/F with light BDSM, you get an idea of the hijinks this mistletoe inspires!

The story of Mistletowed just popped into my head and I submitted it to the publisher as a treatment -- a short explanation of the story. Since the story is very different from most books you see, they were intrigued and told me to write it. Oops. That was the problem. Thinking up a plot like that is very different from writing it. Here are some of the things I learned about writing an ensemble plot -- just in case you might want to write or read one. LOL

• Writing an ensemble is much like painting an abstract. There is still an underlying organization even though it may look random.

• The novella didn’t work until I firmly decided whose story it was. Yes, there are seven characters and they are all important but two of them have to form the center of the book. The other characters weave in and out of the main story.

• Every romance in the book -- and there are several -- must be motivated and fleshed out.

• All seven characters must be three-dimensional. There needs to be character development and back-story.

• An ensemble benefits from having an organizing principle. In the movie, Love Actually, the organization is around the build-up to Christmas. Mistletowed is organized around the planning of a Yule party and the surprise mistletoe.

• The timeframe of an ensemble is probably best either very long like an epic or quite short. Mistletowed is a long novella or short novel.

As you may know, I’m a relatively new writer. Mistletowed is only my sixth published book and they have all come out in 2011. Everything I do is new to me. Writing an ensemble novel was a new and fun experience. I hope you enjoy it.

My sincere thanks to Whipped Cream for inviting me here today. If you would like to win a copy of Mistletowed please leave a comment here with your email (don’t forget the email). You can get another entry in the holiday drawing to be held on Dec 18 if you go to Leave a comment, with email and follow the blog. I’ll notify the winner by email! Thank you so much for coming by and thank you again to Whipped Cream for being such great hosts.

About the Author: Tara Lain never met a beautiful boy she didn’t love – at least on paper. A writer of erotic romance, mostly ménage and male/male, Tara loves all her characters, but especially her handsome heroes. A lifelong writer of serious non-fiction, Tara only fell in love with EROM in 2009 and, through perseverance and lots of workshops, had the first novel she ever wrote published in January of 2011. After an exotic life of travel all over the world and work in television, education and advertising, Tara settled in Southern California with her soul-mate husband and opened her own small marketing business. She paints, collages, and started practicing yoga “way before it was fashionable”. Passionate about diversity, justice, inclusion and new ideas, she says on her tombstone it will read, “Yes”.


booklover0226 said...

This is a really interesting post, Tara. I like to read the thought process of creating a novel; it's a great insight.

Congratulations on your latest release. I know Mistletowed will be a great success.

Tracey D

Debby said...

Wow, that is amazing how you worked that all out. I would love to read it. i am going to put it on my list for Christmas.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Tara Lain said...

Hi Tracey, Hi Debby-- Thank you both so much. Tracey if you win, you can have my NEXT book or a Starbucks card since i think you have all my current books! Debby, great to meet you. You are entered in the drawing on Friday. : )

Cathy M said...

I don't know how you kept all those story threads straight, Tara, but I can't wait to read it.

caity_mack at yahoo dot com

Happy Release Week

Tara Lain said...

Thank you, Cathy. Hope you love it! : )

lindseye said...

I keep forgetting that you have only been published a short time. Congrats on the new book and to many more books in the new year.
linze_e at

Tara Lain said...

Thank you so much Lindseye! Great to see you. : )

elaing8 said...

Great post.I have Mistletowed on the wish list :)
Thanks for the chance to win it.
Happy Holidays

VampedChik said...

Sounds great! Thanks so much! Happy Holidays!

GladysMP said...

Boy, talk about a complicated plot. I am wondering how long it took you to actually finish that story. It sounds as if you almost had a town of people in the action. Hope it is successful for you.

Happy New Year!