Do You Know the Difference Between a Short Story, a Novelette, a Novella, ​and a Novel?

Books

Reading – As you know if you follow my Blog, I read a lot. Some short stories, a few novellas, but mostly novels. But having said that, what does that really mean? I have had the general notion of what a short story, a novella, and a novel are, but I wondered if there was some sort of official definition.

When I looked at “Word Count” in Wikipedia what I see is this definition:

Classification Word Count
Novel 40000 or more
Novella 17500 – 39999
Novelette 7500 – 17499
Short Story less than 7500

These are actually the classifications used by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for each category of its Nebula award, so not exactly an official definition. Elsewhere I have read that The New Yorker in 2012, defined the novella as being between roughly 20,000 and 40,000 words[1].

Classification Word Count
Novel 55000 – 300000
Novella 30000 – 50000
Short Story 1500 – 30000

 

I see where Writer’s Digest has these slightly different classifications [1,2]. Then there is also the even smaller classification of Flash Fiction for works from 53 to 1000 words [3, 4]. Others classify a Novella as 20000 to 50000 [4].

Regardless of which classification you choose to follow, these do give general guidelines for the length of various works. So the National Novel Writing Month goal of 50000 words written during the month of November abides by these classifications. Are you going to sign up and try your hand during NANOWRIMO this year?

References

  1. What Is the Difference Between a Novella and a Short Story?
  2. What Is the Difference Between Novels, Novellas & Short Stories?
  3. Differences Between a Short Story, Novelette, Novella, & a Novel
  4. Short Story, Novella, Novel – what’s the difference?

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