Novel Vs. Novella: A Must-Read For Writers

by CJ McDaniel // January 21  

This post takes a deep look at the meaning of novel vs. novella. By the way, have you been trying to figure out what both terms are? You’re just in time!

What makes a novella different from a novel? Read to find out. A good understanding of these two terms will help you write stunning book.

Are you ready? Let’s know more about novel vs. novella.

What Is A Novel?

A novel is some sort of fictional prose that is relatively longer. It is usually complex in its delivery and writes of the human experience from an imaginative perspective. Novels flow through a sequence of events.

These events do not exist in a vacuum. They involve people whose interaction in the novel takes place within a setting. It is typical to see a novel published as a book.

In present times, novels happen to be the longest form of fictional prose. However, there is no specific word count for a novel. Some distinguishing features of a novel lie in its length, the subject matter (which is fictional or sometimes semi-fictional), and the style.

The history of novels dates back to the seventeenth century. That’s how long this form of writing has been in existence. It overtook other popular forms of writing like poetry and romance and became the most popular narrative work.

A novel is unique in several ways. One of which is that it emphasizes storytelling. Yet, it does that with a touch of exclusivity and brings in the personal human experience.

Novels are generally fictional works. However, the reality is that not all novels are entirely fictitious. Some novels introduce real-life events and some elements of human history in their storytelling. The essence of this is that it makes the storyline more real and relatable to the target audience.

Functions Of A Novel

When you decide to write a novel, you need to understand the purpose that a novel serves. The essence of this is that it will guide you on what will be appropriate and what is not. It also helps you to know if a novel is what you should be writing or something else.

One of the primary purposes of a novel is to entertain and give pleasure to the reader. It is nothing more, nothing less. It is why a novel focuses more on the words used and how the reader interacts with them.

A novel also reflects expectations that people hold. A lot of writers believe that the world can be a better place. This strong belief reflects in the novels they write and the stories they tell. It is why a writer can spend so much time painting the world he wants to see in his novels.

The Elements Of A Novel

There is no standard way to write your novel. Neither is there a right or wrong way to write it. However, for your book or written work to be a novel, it must have some basic elements

The main elements of a novel are:

Plot: A plot is an entire storyline that makes up a novel. It usually begins with the exposition of an idea or fact. Then as events unfold, they begin to add up and build. It rises into a climax, and then the story draws to an end.

The problem with most poorly written books is traceable to a poorly written and structured plot. It is the plot that takes the reader through the entire reading experience. So, it’s crucial that as you write your book, you weave your plot into your chapter distribution. You could even start with a summary of what each chapter of the novel will contain.

Point of view: All stories come from a particular perspective. So a novel always has a person from whose view you are telling it. It could be from a first-person point of view, a second person point of view, or the omniscient third-person point of view where the person narrates without any involvement in the story.

Setting: Here is another essential element of a story. A story does not exist in a vacuum. Instead, it took place somewhere in scenes and settings. The setting could be in a house, at sea, in a particular town, etc.

The setting will influence the overall story of the novel. One of the things it will do is help your readers interpret the story and picture the scenes as they read. It will also provide more information about your characters to readers.

Characters: The characters are the subject of the story. They could be animate or inanimate objects that form the basis of the story. They are the persons or objects that the story is about.

Theme: The theme is the central message that your readers will grasp from reading the novel. It could be themes of love, sacrifice, self-respect, betrayal, etc. It is the themes in a novel that your readers will relate to in the novel.

Apart from these elements that we’ve looked at, there are others like dialogue and style.

Types Of Novel

There are several types of novels. These include mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, romance, horror, etc. There are also others beside these. But keep in mind that each of these various types has various subcategories.

Examples Of Novels

Some examples of novels include Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

Some Tips For Writing A Novel

You need to understand how to create a story structure and develop strong characters. It will be easier for you to write in simple short sentences than adopt an intricate style.

Another tip is to be consistent. Write your novel daily and you’ll find yourself improve massively.

What Is A Novella?

A novella is similar to a novel, but it is a shorter form of it. It is not as short as the regular short stories, but it is also not as long as a novel. Due to its length, a novella does not have chapters. It is more likely to have sections because of its length.

Functions Of A Novella?

A novella serves a unique purpose. Like a short story, it focuses on a specific scope and brings a broader and detailed perspective like a novel. As a result of this, novellas come in handy for screen adaptations.

Elements Of A Novella

Like a novel, a novella also has its elements as character, theme, setting, point of view, dialogue, plot. As we said, it is more or less a novel, except for its length.

Types Of Novella

Novellas also fall into different genres such as horror, thriller, science fiction, romance, fantasy. There are also other types of Novella like the inspirational novella and the literary novella. The literary novella usually focuses on a character and tries to elaborate on it across a deep storyline.

Inspirational novellas are stories that are to inspire the reader. Irrespective of the reader’s age, reading the inspirational novella will uplift the mood of the person.

Examples Of Novella

For you to understand a novella’s meaning, you have to check out a few examples. Some good examples out there are Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Some Tips For Writing A Novella

A novella usually revolves around one central character. So, it would help if you created a strong character that will serve as the principal character. It would be best if you chose how your plot will play out and structure the story accordingly.

Similarities Between Novel And Novella

If we look at a novel vs. novella, it is evident that they share a lot of similarities. One of these similarities is that they are both more extended than a short story. Another similarity, which is already apparent here, is that they share the same elements like plot, character, theme, dialogue, setting.

Another similarity between these kinds of prose is that they both have the same narrative structure. Both a novel and a novella must have a beginning, middle, and an ending. Both must also have the element of conflict that spices it up.

Differences Between Novel And Novella

Like we have mentioned, length is the significant difference between a novel and a novella. Also, a novella’s plot is less complicated than that of a novel. Instead, it focuses on one character per time. It also focuses on a specific setting or atmosphere at a time.

The novel is much more complicated. It constitutes of several related events, multiple characters, and settings. As the novel progresses, the story becomes more complex, and the conflict rises until it hits a climax. The storyline becomes more advanced than the simplified storyline of the novella.


So, we looked at the differences and similarities between novel vs. novella. Now we can appreciate both prose’s uniqueness.

In the comparison of novel vs. novella, understanding both prose will help you as a writer. It will enable you to write great stories. But first, you need to determine which is best for you. Do you want to write novels or novella? Make your decision right away.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!