Writing a Novella

I assumed writing a novella would be an easier transition from the short story form into longer works. I still have dreams of one day writing a novel, but the narrative construction required for that seems out of my reach currently, so I sat down to write a novella.

For those who don’t know, a novella has an abstract definition. At one point does a story become a novella? 40 pages? 50 pages? At what point does a novella become a novel? 100 pages? 110 pages? What I’ve been working with is the concept of writing an 80 page story, one that will follow one character, one plot, and allow me to play with a little more exposition.

This is hard, because I’m a slasher by nature. I believe in lean, crisp writing, and the minimalism of Carver, Cheever, and Johnson tend to be my aesthetic choices.

As I’ve been writing this novella, I’ve found that I have an instinct to incorporate additional plot lines when the story seems to be moving to quickly. I want to layer it, but there’s a problem with that, because then I’m treading towards novel territory. Novella’s don’t feature multiple plot lines, at least, not the way I understand them, and so I’m fighting to write a lengthy story about one character and a single desire.

Then I come back to this: so what? Would it be so bad to have additional plot lines in work that comes to about 80 pages? Is there really a rule to this? Are the parameters of the novella set in stone?

I’m really just musing out loud, because I’m not sure the answers are there, but I’ll take any thoughts.

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