I am struggling with this currently as I have just finished my second novel (again-- yes, I am always editing) and it comes in at 49,600 words, or about 150 book pages. Technically speaking, anything under 50,000 words (and some say 70,000) is a novella. And I am torn. This is a book I am proud of. I'm not preparing for a Nobel by any stretch, but I love moments of it and think it is a story worth telling. But what to do with a book this short? There is more story in my head, but these are extra scenes that I may clutter the book.
I have never been a huge fan of books that take up more space than is called for. I love lyrical descriptions, and poetic narrative, and beautiful writing that carries you away, but have seldom appreciated extraneous pages, unnecessary back story, or unessential detail in any book. It is a skill to balance both, a skill I will likely be working on for the rest of my career, and I err on the side of simplicity over complexity. I would rather a story live in the space it is due, be it short or long, than expand it beyond its natural borders.
This is a rather nebulous concept, I imagine. Think about this:
- A Prayer for Owen Meany may often seem that it is full of extraneous detail, but by the end you care convinced that every word and sentence is absolutely crucial. It is masterful. Many have told me I am wrong.
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a book I am not actually a fan of, but I do have to appreciate the eloquence in how sparcely written it is (so sparce he all but ignores punctuation). There is not a single word in that entire book that is not crucial to the point conveyed. No one has ever disagreed with me here.