Books: Novel Versus Novella

There is a question among the shelves, a misunderstanding of books and their categories. You hold pages in your hand, wondering how they’re suddenly named something more than a novel. They seem no different than all of the surrounding epics – they offer the same style, structure, even typeface. And yet the story you cradle is considered a rarity, offered a new classification and a different pricing. You don’t understand. You thought all fiction was the same, especially when sharing roots in fantasy and invention. This book defies that, however. It is unique. It is strange.

It is also not truly a book. It is instead a novella.

With names strikingly similar and forms often blurred, the novel and the novella are sometimes confused by the average reader. The separation between them is often just a word count and they are sometimes mistaken for each other (with the ‘novella’ believed to be just a foreign explanation, a not yet translated title). There are differences between them, however, that should be learned. Not all books are the same. They are instead divided by long established standards.

Novel: encompassing all works (fictional or non-fictional) that rise above a 50,000 word count, the novel is a broad category and the most read form of literature. Began during medieval times, it is used now to express longer works and more structured themes – ones with an established beginning, conflict and climax. It is composed of chapters and author-formed rules.

Novella: too often confused with its longer counterpart, all novellas are 17,500 words to 40,000 words. They are not books. They are instead to be read as extended short stories, offering more casual forms and often vague resolutions. They are not bound by the usual structures and can instead deviate into more experimental efforts. They also originally began as serial tales, printed in newspapers and pulp magazines.

The difference between the novel and the novella is sometimes difficult to perceive with just a glance. Books will instead require an understanding of words, chapters and literary devices.

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