Difference between Short Stories and Novels

Difference between Short stories and Novels

Out of many reading types used in literature, two of the widely read types are Short stories and Novels, as they both are narrative fiction written in prose. when the creativity of the author comes to play both Short Stories and novels are varieties of composition and fiction. Both Short stories and Novels have characters and plots that capture the interest and imagination of the reader.

So if they have this much in common, can we conclude that both short stories and novels are the same? The answer is “NO”, not really, there are many differences some are subtle and some are more blatant. we read numerous short stories in our school times, completed loads of novels but do we generally know what it actually means. what are basically novel and short stories?

As the short stories by the name are shorter than the novel, or we can say that these stories can be completed in one sitting, whereas the novels are broader with words, character, and as well as narration. Not particularly defined by the words but short stories are presumed to be between 1500 words to 30000 words whereas novels has more than 40000 words.

So, let’s talk about these in detail to understand short stories and novels are better.

Difference between Short Stories and Novels

The difference between short stories and novels is not limited to narration or words, to differentiate between these two, requires more distinct and broad terminology, which I am going to talk about in this article.

But, before that we should know, what short stories and novels actually are:

What is a Short Story?

Short stories are a form of brief literature work usually written in a fictional pose. one can easily read within a short period or in one sitting. Short stories are usually confined to words, there are no exact numbers but its numbers of words usually fall between 1500 to 30000 words.

Elements of short stories

Short stories generally have limited narrative, and lack of complex plot, and generally focus on one particular or specific circumstance or adventure. It comprises a minimal cast of characters. as short stories are shorter in length, they have one or few important episodes and scenes and focuses on one plot, one theme, and one main character.

Types of short stories

Short stories come with different categories like action, comedy, crime, romance, satire, detective, science fiction fable, thriller, mystery, History, Flash fiction, supernatural. Here I am mentioning some famous types of short stories that people generally read.

Fables: A story that teaches lessons and conveys moral stories, the story generally includes Talking animals, or mythical creatures. Children tend to find it more appealing.

Some of the mentions are Tortoise and the Hare, Fox and the grapes, The Goose and The Golden Egg, and Animal farm(George Orwell).

Mini saga: A Short story compiling of exactly 50 words, and it must create a complete story. Some of the mentions are Terminal, An Open Mind, Growling, The Pride of a City Boy, and Pity.

Flash fiction: the types of stories range between to 2000 words. with the lack of traditional plot and character these stories are often characterized by sudden twist and fate.

Some of the mentions are Angel and Blueberries, Baby Dolls, Housewife, and John Redding goes to Sea.

Magical Realism: These type of short stories depicts the real world with fantastical, magical elements that consider normal here. Some of the mentions are The House of the Spirits, Beloved by Tony Morrison, and Like Water for Chocolate.

What is a Novel?

A novel is a long narrative literature work with some realism and is often written in prose. It is generally published in as a single book. As the word, “Novel” is derived from the Latin word “Novella” which refers to the fictional piece of prose often written in the narrative style, that presents a realistic picture of characters and events.

As the word is not bound in this literary form, according to the publisher’s guideline the word count of the novel starts between 40000-50000, as the novel is not necessarily intended to read in a single sitting.

Elements of Novels

Like the novel, it doesn’t focus on the particular incident, With giving space to the complex situation the extension of the novel allows to develop the plot more broad and deep.

It focuses on many situations or circumstances and adventures. It has many characters, plots, themes, subplots which make it more complex than other literary genres. and generally divided into different chapters.

Types of Novels

Like short stories novels do have the category of detective, mystery, thriller, and romance but as the novels have stronger plot and base for the writers to enrich with their writing masterpiece novels also have the categories of Picaresque, realistic, gothic, historical, autobiography, sentimental, psychological, epistolary, pastoral novels. Here I am mentioning some types of novels. that people generally read.

Gothic novel: This novel genre of literature covers horror death and at times romance. it is also associated with mystery and conspiracy surrounding the supernatural.

Some of the Gothic novels mentions are The Castle of Otranto, Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Strange Case, and The Turn of the Screw.

Historical novel: A type of novel which sets in history, and provides a ready-made plot and characters. It attempts to convey the spirits and social condition of the past age with realistic detail to historical facts.

Some of the historical novel mentions are The Red Tent, The Pillar of The Earth, The Dovekeepers, and The wreath.

Epistolary novel: The primary concern of this writing is to give readers a comprehensive view of the character’s felling and thoughts and the development of direct connections with the events through letters.

Some of the Epistolary novel mentions are Clarissa, Frankenstein, Daddy Long Legs, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, and The White Tiger.

Pastoral novel: These novels depict the rural life, society of shepherds who are free from the complexity and crookedness of city life. some of the pastoral novels are A Country Calendar of Rural Rhymes, As You Like It, and The Secret Life of Cows.

What makes Short Stories different from Novels

So I have talked about the short stories and novels and now you have some clear picture in your mind but to make it more systematic and clearer. I am differentiating Short stories and novels based on some basis.


The short story is smaller in length with limited words as low as 50 words and not exceeding more than 30 thousand words whereas the novels Start between 40 to 50 thousand words and exceed more than 150 thousand words.


Short stories usually contain a single basic plot and it hardly has any subplot whereas the novels have multiple plots, with different dimensions and possibilities of different subplots.


Short stories usually encompass a limited time, it concentrate on one aspect or conflict or time of life of the lead character, thus the scope is very limited.

Novels have all the time in the world to write about, it can talk about various aspect or conflicts of differents of the characters life, thus the scope of in the novel is very broad.


The length of the short story forces the author to have fewer characters generally focuses on 1 to 2 characters.

Where as in the novel there are no such restrictions in writing, there are multiple characters followed by protagonist, antagonist, and multiples of fewer characters which makes the whole story come alive in the minds of the reader.


Short stories are easier to read than the novel because it is shorter in length with no complex plot. A reader is most likely to read easily.

Novels are complex, to read a novel one has to read so many chapters and multiples of character and to read an individual has to focus and invest quality time in it.

Difference Between Short Stories and Novels

Short storiesNovels
Short stories are limited to 50 words to 30000.Novels starts from 40k words to more than 150k.
Short stories contain basic single plot.Novels contain multiple plots and subplots.
Short stories concentrate on one aspect of conflict or time of life, with limited scope.Novels focuses on different conflicts and aspects of life, with broad scope.
Short stories are limited with character.Novels forecast several main characters and multiple of fewer characters.
Short stories are reader’s friendly, one can complete in one sitting.Novels need more focus to read, one has to put time to read.
Table for Difference between Short stories and Novels.


I have discussed it in a very easy way where a reader can simply understand now. As you read, the purpose of differentiating between Short stories and novels is not to degrade one or another, the main motive of this is to motivate the reader to jump on to the different types of literary reading.

This will also help the people who are wishing to read some good novels but confined to times, they may switch to read the short story genre.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top