Difference between short story and novel

When we talk about literature for entertainment, so to speak, we find different types of written works, two of them are the short story and the novel. These two narrations present great differences between them, elements that characterize them, the public to whom it is directed, the topics that are treated, among others. Consequently, we may not know exactly what the key elements of each are.

Therefore, the purpose of this article is to show the reader these differences, for this, in principle, we are going to define them briefly.


We can say that a story is based on a narrative that is based on facts that can be both real and fictional. Likewise, it can be written by one or more authors and present few characters with a relatively simple plot. Therefore, its extension is usually short.

Frequently the story is transmitted in writing as well as orally, although previously the oral form was more common. Similarly, the story is usually narrated in the third person. It consists of three fundamental parts such as the beginning, the development and the conclusion.


It should be noted that a novel is a literary work in which a story is told that can be fictional or based on real events. It can be written by one or more authors and its purpose is the entertainment of mostly adult people. Normally, a novel has many characters and can have a complex plot, as well as several sub-plots.

In general terms, a novel has as fundamental elements, the events that occur, the characters that act in it and the setting where the actions take place. In the same way, its structure consists of presentation, development and conclusion, although given the length of the novel, frequently greater than 50,000 words and its complexity, it is sometimes difficult to identify all these elements. Also, novels can address romantic, dramatic, historical and even political themes and many others.

It has been possible to show that the most notable element between a novel and a short story is the length and complexity they present, however, below we present a table where we point out more specifically other differences between short stories and novels:

Tale Novel
The story is a short story based on mostly fictional and simplistic events, although they may be real. A novel is a literary work, of greater length and complexity than the story.
The plot, in a story is usually simple and easy to understand. In the novel, the plot can be highly complex and even have several sub-plots.
In the story the number of characters is limited, so they present few characters. In the novel, the number of characters is greater, adding more complexity to it.
The most common genres in stories are the type of fairy tales, comedy, fantastic, among others. The novel addresses issues that can be dramatic, contain romanticism, historical, police, political events, among others.
The stories are mostly aimed at children for their entertainment, although there are also stories for adults. The novels usually deal with topics that are more serious and complex, so they are directed to a greater degree to the adult population for their entertainment.
They are short in length, they do not usually have many words. They tend to be much longer, around 50,000-60,000 words in many cases.

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