Nowadays, most people know only two genres of a story that are defined by its length. These genres are a short story and a novel. Both of them may have longer or shorter versions, but there are only these two well-known genres. Nevertheless, earlier it was a bit differently. Suddenly, people forgets about a novella. The fact is that earlier many types of periodicals would have published stories of all kinds of length. Then situation has changed and today publishers are not that flexible. However, fiction still may be divided into three genres by its length. Usually, short stories, novellas, and novels are determined by quantity of words. These genres do not have strongly defined length requirements. A novel is something bigger than a novella and a novella is bigger than a short story. However, word count is not the only thing that matters. Other important aspects of the each genre definition are story structure and its content.
One should note here that important feature of a short story is an easy characterization that means a small quantity of characters with an independent single event. That event must provoke a certain effect or frame of mind. Short story may be written in a different narrative style. Moreover, there are some special aspects of using certain components of a fiction in a short story. At the same time, these aspects are less common for such genre as a novel. It is a matter of using of plot, echo, and other similar dynamic components. However, despite the fact, short stories and novels are extensively different, authors that work in both genres still use common literary techniques (Cuddon and Cuddon 653). They do it in different scales, though.
Short story also may be defined as a form of prose that was used in early literature of Europe. One of the significant examples is the “ Decameron” of Giovanni Boccaccio. Further, short story blossomed in the 19th and 20th centuries. Main figures who developed this form of fiction are Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor, Anton Chekhov, Franz Kafka, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Mikics 277). Tzvetan Todorov explained some differences between a short story, a novel and its features in public preferences. He said that the main reason why people prefers big texts such novels to short stories is the fact that reading a short fiction is not enough to forget that it is not a life (Mikics 277). The short stories simply do not allow the immersion into the narrative. They also cannot give the authentication with a real life that, however, can be done by the novel.
As it was said before, there is no strong demarcation between certain genres of prose in terms of word counts. Therefore, short story does not have any fixed length. Only parameters for its form may be defined in some practical or rhetorical situations. These are situations in which certain story is considered. Consequently, a composition of a short story can firstly depend on authors, their nationality, genre of the story and eras. As other forms fiction, the shape of a short story is up to the requests of the publishers and markets.
A novella is an epic prose genre of the unstable volume. Usually, it is shorter than a novel and longer than a short story. A plot of the novella has a propensity for newsreel plot and composition that reproduce a natural course of life. A novella describes a series of events (Kercheval 168). It is amorphous. Events often are simply connected to each other. Furthermore, in a novella, components that are not related to the plot, they play an important and independent part.
On the other hand, we can observe that in contrast to a short story, a novella does not have an intriguing plot. It also does not have a complicated, intensive and finished story line. The plot of a novella is centered on the main character. His personality and fortune are opened within the limits of several events. For a novella are uncommon some aspects of other length forms such as an epic breadth of the novel, completed characters’ biography on the socio-historical basis and fluent development that is complicated by the quantity of main characters. Furthermore, it may be said that a novella for a novel is something like a ballad for an epopee.
Theme of the novella is a separate episode from the private life. It is limited with a slight circle of main characters. Moreover, it does not produce the reader with the scene of whole socio-political and moral system. A novella is simpler, more integral and uniform. It develops more energetically and faster than a novel. As regards the strength of the movement, it may be compared to a drama. In addition, it is typical for a novella to keep the unity of time and place. It is clear from these observations that it is much more complicated and bigger than a short story (Kercheval 170).
In the history of literature, a novella was developing inseparably with a novel. Sometimes it has preceded a novel and sometimes it has mixed with novel while feeding with the same elements. In accordance with the form, a modern novella leads its origin from, such popular in the middle Ages, fantastic collections and sometimes domestic stories that came from the East. The genre of a novella is the transitional genre between a novel and short story. Therefore, it with difficulty yield to the unambiguous definition.
The plot of a classic novella usually is concentrated around the main character. His personality and fate are described by the several events that he takes part in. In a novella, as a rule, unlike a novel, secondary plot lines are absent and a narrative space and time are concentrated on the narrow interval. On the whole, the quantity of characters in a novella is smaller than in a novel. Moreover, in a novella, the typical for a novel delimitation between the main and secondary characters, as a rule, is absent or may be inessential for scene development. However, sometimes the author characterizes the same work in the different genre categories. The names of novellas often are connected with the image of the main character or with the key element of the plot.
It is a well-known fact that a novel is a genre of literature, usually, a work of the large form. Unlike a novella and of course a short story, the content of a novel covers the considerable period of time and describes the fortunes of several characters. In a novel, the narration is concentrated on the fates of separate personality in his attitude to the world. It also speaks about the formation and development of the main character’s temper usually in the crisis or non-standard period of his life. Besides, in a novel, a life is widely pictured and a series of events is smoothly built.
Generally, in a novel, authors use a big amount of characters that take parts in the event-trigger line of the work. Novel gives the talented writer an opportunity to show the progress of a spiritual world of the involved characters, to uncover changes in the certain period and to do some analysis on the conditions that are able to influence the formation of their tempers. Unlike in other length genres, the authors of novels may use different contrivances and technical methods. These methods can be descriptions, certain openings of events, individual speech characteristic of the characters that take parts in the novel life. Therefore, the composition of such works often may be quite hard for the reader’s perception.
What is more, in a novel, all sides of character’s temper usually are viewed in the tight intercommunication with the existed social contrasts and sorrows of all society overall. In addition, a novel often touches critical social and deeply moral philosophical questions. An example of a novel itself is the “ Crime and Punishment” of Fyodor Dostoyevsky who created a complicated compositional structure of all novel: a strained down to the limit and headily developed conflict, collision of the opposite ideas etc. In other words, the components of a real novel.
Cuddon, J A, and J A. Cuddon. A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. Oxford [England: Blackwell Reference, 1991. Print.
Kercheval, Jesse L. Building Fiction: How to Develop Plot and Structure. Cincinnati: Story Press, 1997. Print.
Mikics, David. A New Handbook of Literary Terms. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. Print.