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Thread: How do you distinguish between a novel and a short story?

  1. #1
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    Nov 2016

    How do you distinguish between a novel and a short story?

    They're often spoken of as two different literary forms, but there seems to be no widespread agreement about how short a short story needs to be. Where do you draw the line between them?

  2. #2
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    There are no ironclad standards AFAIK, but the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America use the following guidelines for their Nebula Awards:

    Novel: Over 40,000 words
    Novella: 17,500 to 40,000 words
    Novelette: 7,500 to 17,500 words
    Short story: Under 7,500 words
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

  3. #3
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    Oct 2006
    In addition to Calidore's def above. Short story: can be read at one sitting (under an hour); has very few characters; has one significant incident; covers a limited period of time within the narrative.

  4. #4
    Registered User Secret III's Avatar
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    Jul 2019
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    Personally I would say a short story can fit into a spineless book such as a magazine or pamphlet while a full-fledged novel is best enjoyed within a hardcover so that you can easily read it. I would say you could also describe a story as a "quarter novel" or a ""third novel" because it isn't short anymore but it cannot stand alone within a hard cover, but the terminologists aren't going to listen to me, so what Calidore said.

    My standard for a novel is 80,000 words, minimum.
    Last edited by Secret III; 08-01-2019 at 11:02 PM.

    "I will get right on that soon as I am the emporer of the solar system."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Uncanny Valley
    A short story makes a point about one significant idea--typically showing its implication. That is the only plot it really requires. Its brevity makes the idea and especially the implication more pointed. A novel is--well a novel. It's as different a literary form as a poem or a play is.

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