KNOW THE DIFFERENCES: Novel vs. Novella vs. Short Story

by Mirika C on December 22, 2015


Mirika SC BF 2015Having been a part of the literary world for a long time now, I have found out that many people, including upcoming authors and some readers, have no idea about the differences in what they are reading as far as length. In general, NOVELS are longer than NOVELLAS. NOVELLAS are longer than SHORT STORIES.

Authors write them all, therefore, if a story is shorter than another, more than likely, it is done purposely as the author knows which of these he or she is writing.  In this world of e-books, it’s common for people to download books and believe the books are supposed to be/should have been longer than its purpose.  This can avoided altogether by noticing the page count.

Below are some definitions for them all.  As for myself, all my novels are 200 pages or more.  They will never be less than 200 pages as I learned early on that it was always that length to make novel status, thus, I stuck to that.  When writing my novellas, I tend to reach a 60 to 130 page length and for short stories, I pace myself between 25 and 35.  If you notice, they are all categorized based off of page count/word count.    There are official classifications for types of fiction by specific organizations as such listed here, however this can vary but still remains the same overall NOVELS > NOVELLAS > SHORT STORIES.

NOVEL: an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events

NOVELLA: a short novel : a story that is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel

SHORT STORY: an invented prose narrative shorter than a novel usually dealing with a few characters and aiming at unity of effect and often concentrating on the creation of mood rather than plot

Again, in the world of e-books, it’s great for readers to know that these projects are all really supposed to be written this way as they fall under specific categories while being wonderful stories that authors craft.  Upcoming authors who don’t know the differences could actually be caught mislabeling their novella as a true novel, thus, turning off readers who read the word NOVEL underneath the title or in the description.  Therefore, it is good for everyone to know the various forms of writing, and understand that each has its own flair and are meant to entertain various audiences – those who love to read longer works, those who are in love with shorter as well, and those who enjoy them all.

Writers are entertainers and love to entertain everyone.

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