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4.2: Short Stories versus the Novel

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    Short Story

    Like the novel, the length of the narrative is a common characteristic; however, some short stories can be quite long – even longer than a short novel. Hence there are other characteristics that are more adequate to define a short story. Firstly, the plot usually stretches over a relatively short time span, and will involve fewer characters than a novel. Secondly, a short story will have a certain structure with a turning point or climax which brings the plot in an unexpected direction. In most short stories there will also be a twist in the ending, which is supposed to sum up the theme and make the reader reflect.

    Video 4.2.1 : Short Story

    The Novel

    A novel is a work of fiction. This means that it is made up and not factual. Unlike the short story, it is NOT short; it usually focuses on many events and places as well as more characters than the short story. Also, the time aspect is usually longer.

    In literary history, the novel is a fairly new form; scholars count Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1605) as the first narrative that fits modern criteria of a novel. Usually a novel is defined by its length, or, more precisely, the extension of its plot, which can span over longer time than, for example, a short story. But that is not always the case; there are many famous (and long) novels where the narrative evolves over a very short span of time, for example a couple of hours or a day. In addition, a novel often has an extensive cast of characters, and the plot may take place in many different settings. There are a number of subcategories that will identify a novel more specifically.

    Video 4.2.2 : Introduction to the Novel

    Contributors and Attributions

    • Adapted from Literary Genres, Authored by: Jan-Louis Nagel Provided by: NDLA. License: CC BY-NC-SA
    • Adapted from What is a Novel, Authored by: Eli M. Huseby Provided by: NDLA. License: CC BY-NC-SA

    4.2: Short Stories versus the Novel is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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