>So, what is a novella, anyway? Most often you’ll hear a definition in terms of length–it’s a long short story or a short novel, or it’s anything between 10,000 and 40,000 words. These aren’t very helpful definitions. Josh Weil, writing in the July-August issue of Poets & Writers, has some thoughts on this subject. (And he should know, since he’s just published The New Valley with Grove, a collection of three novellas.)
Josh says this:
Though worded as concisely as a short story, it has room for scenes to breathe. Moments can linger. The fist that squeezes the world of a short story into a few compact scenes can be unclenched a little–bits of backstory let in, descriptions filled out, characters lived with longer. But the novella embraces not too many characters, and not too wide-ranging a plot, not too vast a scope–those are the realm of the novel. A novella compresses the world with a short story’s focus, but it explores that smaller space with a novel’s generosity. (emphasis added)
Write that down. It’s the best definition of “novella” I’ve ever seen.