The differences between a short story and a chapter.

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are multiple differences between a short story and a chapter. To first begin, a complete explanation of a short story's components need to be described.

A short story typically contains five different parts: introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion. All of these pieces are necessary in a short story.

The introduction introduces the setting, plot, and main characters of the text. Typically, the introduction ends with the understanding of the main conflict of the text.

The rising action builds the main conflict, other conflicts exist, and other characters may/may not be introduced.

The climax of the text is when the main conflict comes to a head and is concluded.

The falling action begins tying up loose ends and leads to the conclusion.

The conclusion wraps up the story and provides closure.

A chapter of a text can simply depicts one aspect of what is going on in a longer works such as novels or novellas. A chapter can give simple explanations on actions, introduce a single character, or depict a single conflict.

Therefore, a chapter only shows one aspect of a greater whole, while a short story depicts a story in its entirety.

belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One thing to note is that many novels are made up of interconnected short stories. The author may write a series of shorts for individual publication and later collect them into a whole, rewriting or adding parts to tie them all together. In these cases, each "chapter" of the book is a short story in itself, often with rising and falling action and many miniature climaxes. These are considered true novels, different from an anthology, where the shorts are not necessarily connected in any way.

Lawrence Block, the famous mystery writer, wrote several novels that follow this pattern. Most of the stories in them were published in magazines, and when he had enough for a novel, he tweaked them so they hung together and republished them.

This style of writing is often seen in older books, where the individual parts were serialized in magazines and journals.

Modern authors who have used this method of writing include Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Jack Vance, and Mike Resnick.

mwinn | Student

A short story and a chapter may be similar in length but vary in organization and depth.

A short story can be divided into introduction, setting the stage, building of characters, and be problem and solution focused.  There will be a series of events that build in the story and climax, and then eventually have a conclusion or some closure. 

A chapter is just a small part of a larger piece of work.  It will probably focus on one aspect of the greater piece.  It may focus directly on one problem or one character. There may be a "beginning, middle, and end" but it will be a small part in comparison to the larger work.