How to Differentiate between Novel and Novella


In this article, we will discuss how to differentiate between a novel and novella. These are two different genres. People often confuse the two genres to be similar. However, they have differences. We will describe these dissimilarities in this article below.

How to differentiate between novel and novella
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We can describe a novel as an extended narrative. A novel comes under prose. It describes fictional characters and events. It is considered to be the longest genre of narrative prose fiction within the field of modern literature. A genuine novel consists of almost 200 pages which makes the number of words go above 40,000. The term novel has its roots culminated in the Italian context. It originates from the Italian word, “novella”. Novella relates to ‘new’.


A novella is a brief narration. Despite being brief, it is a well-structured narrative. A novella is realistic and satiric in tone. It has played a vital role in influencing the event of the story. It has also influenced the concept of the novel throughout Europe. Thus, novella basically led novel to originate.

Originating in Italy during the Central or Middle Ages, the novella supported local events. During this time, novella started to become known amongst masses. These events were humorous, political, or amorous in nature. People used to gather the individual tales written down in novella into collections. These collections were in conjunction with anecdotes, legends, and romantic stories.

Structure and Examples

Novellas contain fewer characters, themes and conflicts. Therefore, it can not be termed as completely unique. It generally does not contain chapters. We can read a novella in one sitting. Few prominent samples of novellas in the literature include, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, “The Little Prince” by Saint-Exupery and “The Time Machine” by H. G. Wells.

Chaucer was the first to introduce the concept of a novella in England. He wrote, “The Canterbury Tales” and initiated the idea of a novella. Followed by this era was the Elizabethan period. During this time, Shakespeare along with other playwrights extracted dramatic plots from the Italian novella. The realistic content and sort of such tales influenced the advent of the English novel. The concept greatly rose during the 18th century. This further led to the influence of the novels during the 19th century.

So, now that you know what a novella is, let us take a look at the novel to learn how to differentiate between the two.


Novels are long narrations. These can also be related to fictional stories. Generally, novels require plots, characters, and themes. While this is often true for most stories penned down in novels which have room for more complex plots. They tend to give the characters the power to vary throughout the story. They also tend to explore the themes of stories in a more thorough way. Therefore, the definition of ‘novel’ is fairly straightforward. The novels are prolonged narrations. They have an ability to reflect upon multiple themes, characters, events taking place within the story and plot.

We can categorize novels into different genres. These genres may be either western, fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, romance, adventure, thriller or suspense.

Structure and Examples

Since novels come under the fictional genre, they can also be stated as art and craft through the usage of language. Novels may present the lives of people either diverting or instructing its audience. When the part of any fictional work is long enough such that it can be constituted as an entire book, then it is termed as a novel. This being different than a novella. Where novella is just a part of the entire fictional work.

The novel also consists of the plot. It basically is comprised of an entire story; a story giving major to minor details. Few examples of novels include, “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens, “And the mountains echoed” by Khaled Hussaini and “Forty rules of love” by Elif Shafak. The novel features an extended history. We can often observe examples of novels in many regions in the past. Few examples from earlier times of these regions include Classical Greece, Rome, 10th and 11th century Japan and Elizabethan English.


Both the novels and novellas are the epitome of fictional work. The topic of the difference between the novella and novels has always been under debate. Controversy has often been observed over the status of novellas. This debate arose because some writers and authors believe that novellas are merely short novels. They argue that only when they shall have a special structure, novellas may then be considered a separate writing style or genre. However, others do not agree with this idea. However, one thing all writers and novelists agree upon is that novellas are shorter in comparison to novels. Thus concluding, unlike novels, the novellas need to focus more on one thing or rationale alone.

So, this is how you can differentiate between a novel and novella. Check out this article about how to write a short story.

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