Difference Between Short Story and Novella

Difference between short story and novella
  • Save

Difference between short story and novella – The word count for a novella is from 17000 words to 40000 words while the other ranges from 1000 to 7500 words. A short story is expected to be read in one sitting while a novella slightly shorter than a novel.

When it comes to the publishing industry with writing as its primary base, it is easier to segregate the types of literary works. Among the professional writers, it is quite an arguable era.

But speaking of marketing a piece or a book, the main difference between a short story and a novella is the word count. While any beginner hopping into the writing industry can have these questions, a short story is more well-heard of.

Novellas, on the other hand, are not so common that you’d find them without trying to look for them. All the while, short stories, and novellas have their differences – both have one thing in common – being fiction. Other than short stories and novellas comes a much smaller category called a novelette.

We shall discuss all of them in this post.

  • Save

What is a Short Story?

A short story can range from 1000 words to 5000 words. They can also go up to 7500 words.

Apart from the length of the story, a short story is meant to be completed in one sitting. They do not necessarily have to be within the word range as long as they have the readers engaged. While with a novel, you can stuff in your highs and lows, a short story keeps readers on their feet till the end.

As a beginner, writing short stories is the best way, to begin with. You can’t pick up a pen (or type) and jot down a bestseller novel right away. Even if you do, any publisher wouldn’t risk it – given your position in the industry. But that doesn’t mean a short story is just something to start with. Some people are fantastic with it and known for their short stories – like Edgar Allan Poe.  

And it isn’t an out-of-the-blue story you jot down and it turns into a masterpiece the following day. It takes its own set of efforts for it. For starters, to give a reader the best impact of a short story in its given limited word length, make an outline for your short story.

Examples of Short Stories:

I found a wholesome article on a list of famous short stories along with their authors and their word count. This post just wouldn’t be complete without it. So check it out here.

In that link up there, you’ll also see a handful of stories that are mentioned have less than 1000 words. Yet it falls in the short story category. When you dig deeper into short stories, you will see that they have been further categorized. You can check out in detail how long should a short story be.

Not only will writing short stories help you get up that ladder in publishing, but it can also enhance your skills a whole lot more. Short stories – novellas – then aim for that big apple every aspiring writer dreams of – an actual novel. Speaking of skill enhancement with fiction writing – here is my post on how to write a short story.

If writing short stories is something you wish to pursue – professionally – then go for learning it in an organized manner. Take up an online course to kickstart your writing. Here is one on Udemy (It’s available at a great discount, go check it out!) – Writing Short Stories: The Essential Guide

  • Save

What is a Novella?

  • Save
A novel can have a book-length of over 40000 words. A short story is too short to be published as a book with its word range from 1000 to 7500 words. Now, a novella comes in between the two.

A novella can be referred to as a short book with a word length anywhere from 17000 words to 40000 words. Unlike most of those J K Rowling’s series today, novellas are less popular today.

On the contrary, from a traditional publisher’s perspective, it is less expensive to publish a novella and easier to market compared to novels. Especially when considering a novella written by a beginner.

Example of a Novella

My favorite novella would ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ by Truman Capote. While it is hard to get such novellas as a standalone published piece, I read this where this novella clubbed along with a few other stories.

This brings an idea – if a novella is too short to be published on its own, then it can definitely be published with a bunch of other stories – just like short story collection books.

What is Novelette?

As mentioned before, a novelette is a work of fiction with a word count of around 7500 to 17000 words. A novelette is longer than a typical short story yet shorter than a novella ranging from 17000 words to 40000 words.

No doubt novelette is short to be published as a book on its own. But to short story enthusiasts, novelettes can serve as amazing standalone stories. They can have a much simpler plot with fewer key characters than a novel.

Key Differences between Short Story and Novella

In the end, it all comes down to this:

  • A short story is shorter than a novella.
  • The word count for a novella is from 17000 words to 40000 words while the other ranges from 1000 to 7500 words.
  • A short story is expected to be read in one sitting while a novella somewhat shorter than a novel.
  • Short stories cannot typically be published as a standalone book on their own while a novella can turn into a short book.


That sums up the difference between a short story and a novella. While both have their differences, they can have the same impact on the reader despite their word length. I cannot stress this enough: A short story can have a deep introspective message just like any reading material longer than it.

A novella brings great satisfaction with a one-time read. A short story brings a subject to your table to discuss among your group and figure out what means. Check out plot twist ideas for children if you’re headed to writing one. Fiction is not meant to be barricaded in word lengths. It applies only when it comes to bringing the story into the real world – into the market.

So let the words speak out for themselves and see where it takes the story :)

Find this post useful? Pin it for later:

difference between short story and novella
  • Save

*This post contains affiliate link(s) where I receive a small commission upon being clicked at no additional costs of the products to you. I only recommend products I trust. 


Hi there! I'm a 19-year-old dude who loves to travel. Well, still too young for that, but I travel around whenever I get a chance- and I never miss out writing on any of 'em! Being experienced in the writing world, I also write reviews of writing agencies and companies.

Leave a Comment

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

Share via
Copy link