Novel vs. Novella vs. Short Story – Is it All a Numbers Game?
Uphill Writing reader and frequent commenter, Loreen Lee asked that I get into the differences between a Novel, a Novella, and a Short Story.
Good question, Loreen. And a tough one.
My understanding has always been that it was just a matter of length, and an extensive search has not disavowed me of this notion.
However, let’s take a look at what might be sound logical distinctions between the three types of manuscript.
As we saw yesterday, a Short Story (somewhere between 500 to 5000 words in length) is likely the most difficult of the three to write. In order to be successful in the Short Story world you need to be able to express ideas clearly and concisely while managing to be compelling. With limited “real estate” with which to develop ideas and characters, a successful Short Story author must be highly disciplined and well practiced. Short stories are difficult to sell as the number of magazines which accept them has dropped to almost none. Those that still do accept them usually look for well-known writers. They typically publish only a few per year, and the waiting list is very long. Recompense for single short stories is typically in the area of pennies per word.
Novellas are demarked primarily by their length. A novella has the room for sub-plots, and allows for the development of one or two characters.
Novels, again, determined primarily by length. A novel allows for multiple sub-plots, and can support the development of a multitude of characters and situations.
|Juvenile picture book||500-1500||(varies)|
|Young adult book||15,000-80,000||60-320|
(4-16 lines preferred)
|Play: one act||20-30 minutes||20-30 playing time|
|Play: three act||1 1/2 – 2 hours||90-120 playing time|
|TV script||1/2 hour||25-40|
|TV script||1 hour||55-70|
|Movie scenario||1 1/2 – 2 hours||120-250 playing time|
|Radio feature copy||15 ds lines = 1 minute
3 min = 2 pages
|Public Service Announcement||45 wds = 20 sec
90 wds = 40 sec
|one page; all caps|
|Speech||250 words = 2 minutes
12-15 pages = 1/2 hour
|Book Proposal||outline/summary;||(varies) sample chapter(s)|
|Query Letter||200-500||1-2 full pages; single-spaced|
Note: These lengths are approximate, and other sources will differ with these conclusions.