I haven’t been writing for long, I think it amounts to no longer than ten years, but one of the very first things I did was to look up what was considered to justify the label of being a novel, a novella, or a short story. 

One of the finest definitions I came across was this one, which I found on an internet site called blurb:

A novella is defined as a work of narrative fiction that runs between 20,000 and 50,000 words (the average is around 30,000). Once a story exceeds 50,000 words, it is entering the novel territory. On the flip side, anything between 10,000 and 20,000 words would be considered a novelette (it sounds too cute to be real, but it is an actual category of fiction writing).

If the short story had a big sister, it would be the novella. Short stories are usually only a few thousand words long and are designed to be read in one sitting, whereas novellas require more time and attention. Fiction genres are typically distinguished by word count, but you can also think of the average short story as 10 to 25 pages, and the average novella as 100 to 150 pages. That makes a novella short enough to get through in an afternoon, with a break or two. A standard novel is 250 to 300 pages, so you may need a few days to get cover to cover.

In terms of structure, a novella features more conflicts and plot development than a short story, but fewer subplots than a novel. Even though novellas may follow a traditional story arc and create the same kind of unifying effect that short stories are known for, they often lack the complexity and multiple perspectives found in novels.

~ ~ ~

This morning I read an article from a regular blogger about two novels that had been read and reviewed. The first novel was read in a day and the second just over a day, but could have been finished had there been more time available in the day set aside for the review.

I couldn’t go further into the books than the two reviews, both of which were full of praise and it piqued my interest. Not enough, if you’re wondering, for me to buy both on the back of those reviews. 

That said, it left no possibility to investigate the structure of either novel, other than reading the few pages available on the Amazon site, both of which I found to be well-written as well as engaging. 

However, my real concern lay with the description this—regular blogger—used at the beginning of these reviews; one of two—Novels. 

On that same Amazon page was the sum of my concerns and what brings me to write this post. I can assure you I do have other things to occupy my time.

The first of those novels, the one that was finished in a day, had 42 pages and the second one had 55. I didn’t count how many words were on a page accessible on Amazon, but generally, using this size font and these spacings, it’s around about 400 hundred odd words per page which makes both novels not Novels in the principal of the descriptions I found. 

Here’s my dilemma; as I stated at the beginning, I have not been writing for long. Ten years doesn’t count for much time in the craft of writing and this blogger has, I suspect, a great deal more experience than I do.

Am I wrong in assuming both these novels to be short stories, with the 55-page one just edging into the novella bracket, and the other a tiny bit short, but as it’s a nice bright day, given the benefit of the doubt?  

How do you classify a short story? Is it as I do, anything up to 20,000 words? Are you then like Blurb and put a Novella from 20-50,000 words? Or, are you like me in pushing the level higher, saying a novel is only a Novel after it exceeds 80,000 words? 

How do you decide and where do you place your distinction?

© 2023 Daniel Kemp All rights reserved

About Daniel Kemp

Daniel Kemp is a member of The Society of Authors. His introduction to the world of espionage and mystery happened at an early age when his father was employed by the War Office in Whitehall, London, at the end of WWII. However, it wasn’t until after his father died that he showed any interest in anything other than himself! On leaving academia he took on many roles in his working life: a London police officer, mini-cab business owner, pub tenant and licensed London taxi driver, but never did he plan to become a writer. Nevertheless, after a road traffic accident left him suffering from PTSD and effectively—out of paid work for four years, he wrote and self-published his first novel —The Desolate Garden. Within three months of publication, that book was under a paid option to become a $30 million film. The option lasted for five years until distribution became an insurmountable problem for the production company. All ten of his novels are now published by CNext Chapter with the tenth novel being a two-part ending to the Heirs and Descendants Series. A Covenant of Spies completed the four-book series alongside: What Happened In Vienna, Jack? Once I Was A Soldier and A Widow's Son. Under the Creativia publishing banner, The Desolate Garden went on to become a bestselling novel in World and Russian Literature in 2017. The following year, in May 2018, his book What Happened In Vienna, Jack? was a number-one bestseller on four separate Amazon sites: America, the UK, Canada, and Australia. Although it's true to say that he mainly concentrates on what he knows most about; murders laced by the mystery involving spies, his diverse experience of life shows in the two novellas he wrote, namely: Why? A Complicated Love, and the intriguing story titled--The Story That Had No Beginning. He is the recipient of rave reviews from a prestigious Manhattan publication and described as—the new Graham Green—by a highly placed employee of Waterstones Books, for whom he did a countrywide tour of book signing events. He has also appeared on 'live' television in the UK publicising his first novel. There is no morality to be found in evil. But to recognise that which is truly evil one must forget the rules of morality. Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.co.uk/Daniel-Kemp/... He is fond of writing Quotes and a collection of his can be found here--- https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/list/72612151
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3 Responses to WRITING

  1. Hi Danny, my understanding of the categorisation of short stories, novella and novels is the same as yours. 45 and even 55 pages is a short story or maybe a novella but not a novel.

  2. Mick Canning says:

    I’d tend to agree with you, Danny. Neither were novels, certainly.

  3. Daniel Kemp says:

    Maybe just the letters ‘la’ were omitted from the end of the word novel by mistake.

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