Distinguishing a Novel from a Novella

Novel vs Novella

For those with a keen interest in fiction, understanding the difference between a novel and a novella is essential. Fiction is a form of literature that tells stories about imaginary people and events. Among the types of fiction are the novel, novella, and short story. While there is a general understanding of what each type means and its characteristics, the difference between them is not often discussed. This article will focus on the difference between a novel and a novella while also discussing their meanings and definitions. Understanding these differences will benefit amateur writers, students of literature, and many more in the field.

What is a Novel?

A novel is a genre of fiction referred to as a long narrative prose that presents a relatively lengthy story about a group of fictional or imaginary characters and events. Novels are always presented in the physical form of books and are categorized into several genres depending on the central aspect; for example, novels featuring humor and mimicking human flaws would be categorized as comedy and satire, while novels presenting a love story would be classed as romance. According to historians, the first appearance of novels dates back to the 18th century, and since then, novels have been a major part of literature worldwide. Literary critics discuss and analyze novels in terms of their plot (storyline of events), characterization (how characters are portrayed), narrative style, themes, settings or backgrounds, language usage, and writing style. In terms of word limit, novels are always longer than short stories and generally have more than 40,000 words, although the average novel consists of around 100,000 words. Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ has a word count of 560,000, which extensively exceeds the average word limit of a novel yet is recognized as a novel of all times.

What is a Novella?

A novella is slightly different from a novel in terms of length and is referred to as a genre of fiction that is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. A novella is also a written narrative prose, a common literary genre in many European countries. The development of novellas came into being during the Renaissance, but they began to establish as a form of literary genre in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In terms of structure, a novella features a plot that is less complex than a novel but more complicated than a short story. A novella does not usually contain chapters and is more similar to a short story in that it can be read in one sitting. Notable examples of novellas include Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

What is the difference between Novel and Novella?

• A novel is considered the longest form of written narrative fiction, while a novella is shorter than a novel and longer than a short story.
• In terms of structure, a novel is presented in chapters, while a novella is not divided into chapters.
• Reading a novel could take some time, even a few days, but a novella can be read in a single sitting.
• A novel has a complex plot and more characters, while a novella features a less complicated plot and a fewer number of characters.
• The timeline of events that take place in a novel is lengthier than that of a novella.
• The average length of a novel would be around 100,000 words, while a novella typically consists of fewer than 40,000 words.

Key Takeaways

  • A novel is a longer and more complex form of written narrative fiction, while a novella is shorter than a novel and longer than a short story.
  • Novels are generally presented in chapters, whereas novellas are not divided into chapters and can often be read in a single sitting.
  • The average length of a novel is around 100,000 words, while a novella typically consists of fewer than 40,000 words.

Reviewing these differences and many more in terms of themes and settings, it is clear that a novel and a novella differ from each other. Ultimately, it should be remembered that a novel is lengthier and more complicated than a novella. In terms of structure, plot, and every other aspect, a novella falls between a short story and a novel.

Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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