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What is a difference between a novel and a short story?

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abhijanu | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 19, 2008 at 1:55 PM via web

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What is a difference between a novel and a short story?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 19, 2008 at 2:04 PM (Answer #1)

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Novels are long, usually with multiple chapters.  Short stories are just that--short.  They can be anywhere from 54 words, to 20 pages, to longer, but a novel is significantly longer. 

Novels, because they are longer, have the time to create more characters, multiple important events, and to go into more in-depth characterization.  Short stories are usually more focused, centering on one major conflict, or relaying a large amount of time in a more distant and summarized manner.

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sandrahunter | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 14, 2010 at 10:57 PM (Answer #4)

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A novel will often follow one character's journey. Other novels have intersecting stories, such as Colum McCann's "Let the Great World Spin", or Amy Tan's "Joy Luck Club". The novel uses length to develop its landscapes, plots and characters. Good examples of this method is the historical novel where a specific period in history is examined in great detail. A strong example of this is Hilary Mantel's "Wolf House" which follows the lives of Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell in great detail. It would be difficult to condense all that information into a short story!

A short story takes a "slice" of life and focuses on, for example, a single incident, an aspect of love, a specific decision. Where a novel might be 300 pages, a short story will be anywhere from 5-30 pages. The main focus of a short story is to present the reader with a single clarifying moment. An excellent example of this is "Love is Not a Pie" by Amy Bloom that begins with a funeral and ends with an understanding of the mother's live and loves.

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jdslinky | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 20, 2010 at 2:44 AM (Answer #5)

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The difference between a novel and a short story has to do with length. A short story is obviously shorter in length, but it also may begin later in the plot triangle. Because a novel has more time for development and characterization, the exposition (or introduction ) phase may be much longer than in a short story where it may even be skipped all together. Occasionally, a short story will skip the exposition and catalyst phases entirely and begin during the rising action phase.

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silversinger | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted December 20, 2008 at 1:33 AM (Answer #6)

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The length is the biggest difference! In a novel, the author is able to give you an in depth look at what the characters are like and how they feel and how they affect others in the story. The setting and the plot are much more explicit. There is much more detail in a novel that there is a short story. A short story is just a glimpse. In "Exploring the Titanic," a non-fiction short story by Robert Ballard, the action is selective. We are only introduced to some of the characters and detail of the story, as to compared to the myriad of novels that have been printed about the tragedy.

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 20, 2008 at 8:25 PM (Answer #7)

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Short stories focus upon one or two important events to drive their plot. Novels, on the other hand, may have many different sub-plots, twists, and turns to reach the climax and resolution of the story.

Short stories, as their name denotes, are shorter in nature than full-length books or novels. A novel may be several thousand pages, if warranted, whereas a short story is often measured by its word count.

Editors, in particular, if they are seeking a short story will set a limit of 5,000-15,000 words at the outmost. Novels, with their numerous pages, chapters, and events, can number into the millions for word count, if such length is warranted.

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here2learn | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 3, 2009 at 1:06 PM (Answer #8)

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a novel is far much longer than a SHORT-story and the plot is much more developed

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jhfgiuh | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 22, 2009 at 8:11 PM (Answer #9)

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A short story is a short invented prose narrative usually dealing with a few characters and aiming at unity effect. Novel is a long invented prose narrative dealing with human experience through a connected sequence of events. 

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