Short Story vs Novel, What’s the Difference?

Differences between short stories and novels – Like reading short stories that you can finish in one sitting, or you prefer reading novels that are much more detailed and have long storylines. Both short stories and novels are readings that both have the same interesting characteristics. So what are the differences?

Definition of short stories and novels

1. Short stories

As the name implies, the term short story is an abbreviation of a short story which is one of the short or short literary works. Although only short, this short story includes a unified whole which also has the same elements as the novel, although not as detailed as other novels or works.

This short story literary work can also be in the form of fiction or non-fiction. The length of the short stories also varies relatively depending on how complicated or not the story in the short story is.

Some short stories are also included in the category of medium stories and long stories. However, this long story is still not as long as the story written in a novel or other book. Short stories also tend to use suggestive and interesting language styles.

2. Novels

The novel is one of the literary works that has a large number of pages because of the long storyline. If in a short story a story can be completed in only two to five pages, in a novel a story can have hundreds of pages to form a book.

Just like short stories, the types in novels can also be fiction or non-fiction. Novels also have a number of distinct characteristics that make many readers sometimes prefer reading novels.

Differences in Characteristics of Short Stories and Novels

Overall both short stories and novels have a lot in common in terms of structure, intrinsic and extrinsic elements. However, a significant difference lies in the short length of each story detail.

If you like reading short stories as well as novels you might feel the difference. In the following, the differences between short stories and novels are detailed from various angles.

1. Seen From the Number of Words

In general, a short story contains around 5,000 to 10,000 words. It’s possible it’s shorter than that. As the name implies, short stories are called short stories because it doesn’t take long to finish one short story.

So don’t be surprised if you will often find works in the form of short stories in magazines, books, or even newspapers because the lines are short and don’t require many sheets to print.

If you only need a short time to read short stories, then to finish one novel you may need more time. This is because the number of words contained in a novel can reach 35,000 words or even more.

So it’s only natural that in a novel you see the last page can reach hundreds of pages. Even so, there are many readers who can still enjoy the novel until the final page because the interesting stories contained in it can make them feel at home reading every page for a long time.

2. Characters and Characterizations

When viewed in terms of characters, of course, short stories and novels have many differences. Both from the number of characters to the details of the characterization. In a short story, the story that is told is quite dense and short so that in general the writer will only give two to three characters to be presented in the story.

Some short stories even only tell about a character, while other characters are only told briefly. Some examples of short stories that focus more on one character or even from one point of view, such as Dee Lestari’s work, namely Semangkok Pickle For God and Love, Penetrating the Level of Glass and Samsara.

In these short stories, apart from the few characterizations, the characters are also explained briefly and limitedly. In general, the characterization of a character in a short story is only described in outline and only on matters relating to the core of the story.

In a novel, the appearance of characters tends to be more numerous and varied. There are many characters, starting from the main character to supporting characters, which are sometimes also explained a little in the novel. So that as readers we have a much more detailed picture of the background and character of the characters.

In a novel there are at least two to dozens of characters that appear throughout the story. However, only the main character whose character is described in detail. Supporting characters serve to strengthen the story and make the story more realistic.

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Have you ever read JKRowling’s Harry Potter novels? Of course you know that the three main characters, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley, have complete descriptions from book one to book seven.

However, several supporting characters such as Minerva McGonagall, Draco Malfoy, Hagrid, who often appear, are deliberately not explained in detail because their existence only serves as a reinforcement for the story.

3. Storyline

The most significant difference between a short story and a novel is the plot. In a short short story, it only has a short storyline, straight and tends to the point .

If a short story tells about the suffering of someone who has been left by his girlfriend, then the short story will probably only discuss one problem that is the core of the story.

Unlike the novel, which has a much more specific and varied plot because the duration of its exposure is far longer than short stories. In a novel you might find various types of straight forward plots, flashback plots or even plot twists.

A more varied storyline in a novel provides a slower exposure time and is not to the point like short stories. When reading a novel, we will be given time to get to know each character’s character slowly and in detail, as well as understand the essence of the conflict that is currently happening to the main character.

For example, Tere Liye’s various novels always have a way so that details in even a complicated plot can be fully conveyed to the reader.

Especially for fantasy stories where story details are so important, so that they can shape the world of Tere Liye’s imagination in all of their readers. Some of Tere Liye’s novels that successfully represent their parallel worlds are the novel series Bumi, Bulan, and others.

Broadly speaking, novels and short stories have quite a big difference if we look at the details of the elements contained in them. Therefore you also need to understand what the characteristics of the short story and the novel itself are like.

Differences in terms of intrinsic and extrinsic elements

Intrinsic elements of short stories

The following are the intrinsic elements contained in a short story literary work.

1. Theme

In a short story, generally the theme that is taken to be poured into a work is a general friend and also light. Because short stories do not have much space to tell heavy and complex themes, most of the themes raised are those related to everyday life.

2. Figures

The characters in short stories are not much different from novels. In a short story, the characters do have a limited number, and the characterizations are also not very detailed. In a story in a short story, it is usually divided into antagonists and protagonists.

3. Groove

The plot in short stories tends to be short and simple. A short story usually has an advanced plot and does not have much conflict in it. Often, a short story focuses on one main character’s point of view.

4. Background

Even though they are only short, several short stories also have a background and story setting, even if it’s just simple. In general, these settings and backgrounds only occur in one place and do not move around.

5. Language Style

In short stories, the writer can use a language style that is straightforward and relaxed, or even a language style that is a little poetic. Like short stories in children’s stories, usually using a style of language that is relaxed and easy to understand.

6. Mandate

Even though the number of words is only a few, this does not limit a short story to have a good message and a deep meaning. Short stories that tell the story in a to the point way make the reader tend to focus more on the feelings of the main character. Even in short stories for children there are many good messages that can be used as examples of everyday life.

In addition to its intrinsic elements, short stories also have extrinsic elements that are different from novels.

Extrinsic Elements of Short Stories

This extrinsic element is an element that influences a work from the outside of the short story, so that finally a story is created in such a way. However, because the short story space is limited, these extrinsic elements only appear in outline.

1. Background

In every story that is presented into a short story, it is no doubt influenced by the background, both from the history of the author to the background that makes the story exist. The background to creating a story is usually a purpose or reason why the story was made.

For example, a short story is created as a sign of the author’s dedication to something or someone. So that its appearance has a clear purpose from the short story writer for his readers. However, the background in a short story is generally not very detailed.

2. Community Environment

The next element that might exist and give a big influence in a story is the environment or the condition of society at that time. Usually a work including a short story is made based on a situation that is currently happening in society and at the same time, so that when the short story appears it feels very close and related to the surrounding community.

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For example, a short story that discusses the current capital congestion, or issues related to it. So this short story will feel very close to the citizens of Jakarta who also often experience similar things.

However, in a short story, it is possible that the details of the situation will not be explained because of the short duration of the story. This element tends to be the plot of the story in outline only.

3. Psychological

If the author’s background can influence a work he creates, so can the psychological condition of the writer. For example, if a writer tends to write stories about broken hearts and love affairs, chances are that most of the ideas are inspired by the author’s own personal experiences.

Novel Intrinsic Elements

Almost similar to short stories, novels also have intrinsic elements that lie within the novel itself, but if you look deeper you will find significant differences from a novel. The following is a review of the intrinsic elements of the novel.

1. Theme

Every literary work has a theme, and novels are no exception. If previously in a short story there were themes that tended to be general or general, then in a novel the theme of the story can develop in various ways.

The many types of themes that can be raised in a novel make the novel classified into various types in terms of its story.

It’s even possible when you find two novels with the same theme but have completely different details and discussions. Why so?

Because in the novel, the author has a lot of time to explain the details of the story on each page.

2. Characters and Characterizations

In contrast to short stories, novels have so many characters that can be presented, as well as the characterization of each character. Even supporting characters can have a sufficient portion to simply explain the background of that character.

This certainly affects the emergence of characters with unique and diverse characters in one novel. Characters in a novel may even experience changes in character throughout the story.

3. Plots

In a novel, the plot is also increasingly varied, starting from forward plot, backward to plot twist. The long duration of the novel provides plenty of time so the writer can introduce the story and setting, include conflict at several levels up to the climax.

4. Settings

The setting in the novel will feel so clear because it is explained in detail both from the place setting, the time setting to the environmental conditions contained in the story.

This setting is useful for building understanding and also making the story feel more realistic.

5. Point of View

The story described in the novel allows for several points of view. The first-person point of view will make us as readers seem to be the main character and the third-person point of view who knows everything that happens in the novel.

6. Language style

The many types of novels also make many writers use various styles of language. Starting from the standard style of language like in a translated novel, a slightly lighter language style to a relaxed and slang style like in a teenlit novel.

Novel Extrinsic Elements

In terms of its extrinsic elements or elements that come from outside the story, the novel has several extrinsic elements that are far more detailed and have a bigger impact.

1. Elements of the Author’s Biography

If in a short story there are several types of background that influence the story, then in the novel it also has elements of the author’s biography. This biographical element has the same meaning as the background of the novelist, both in terms of experience, place of residence, education and others.

This element will later have such a big influence on the theme, plot, and style of language contained in the novel. Some examples of novels that emerged from the author’s personal experience are Jessica Jung’s Shine, Henry Manampiring’s Terrace Philosophy and Fellexandro Ruby’s You Do You.

2. Social Conditions

This social condition is the same as the background of the community or the social situation that is currently happening in society and also towards the people around the author. This can give a lot of influence on the theme in a novel.

Because nowadays there are many novels that are born based on the unrest that often occurs in society. Some examples of novels are Samuel Ray’s Lagi Probation, Almira Bastari’s Odd Evenness, and Geul Bae Woo’s I’m Not Giving Up, I’m Just Tired.

3. Value

Several novels were also born from economic, political and cultural values. By raising these values ​​the author can write a number of fiction and non-fiction stories related to the values ​​that exist in society. An example of a novel that contains economic and political values ​​is the novel by Tere Liye entitled The Land of the Bastards.

Book Recommendations & Related Articles

Want to Know Other Novels and Short Stories?

Broadly speaking, significant differences between short stories and novels can be found when reading both. Because, the more detailed differences lie in each story itself. If you are interested in reading novels or short stories, or even creating your own work, then the following book can be the best reference!