To all aspiring writers: difference between novels and novellas that you can't afford to miss out.

the difference between novel and novella

For both reader and writer knowing what is the difference between a novel and a novella is extremely important.

For a writer, it is important to do justice to their imagination or idea of the fiction.

The length of the fiction, the focus of the storyline, the role of the characters, and the complexity of the plot must remain in tandem with the intensity of the author’s imagination as that is the key to the success of their fiction work.

A writer can keep a check on these parameters if he or she knows some important differences - one of which is the difference between novels and novellas.

If a book reader knows this difference then depending upon their mood, situation, circumstances, time, they can choose which one to read. A proper selection enhances the quality of the reading experience of a reader.

What is the main difference between a novel and a novella?

I won’t stretch long and arrive directly at the major difference.

The main difference between a novel and a novella is that novel is a long narrative prose fiction that has a complex detailed plot whereas a novella is a fictional narrative written in prose that is shorter in length and word count than a novel but longer than a short story as well as a novelette.

A novella has a page range between 150 and 200 whereas a novel has generally more than 200 pages.

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What is a novella?

Merriam Webster dictionary defines a novella as “a work of fiction intermediate in length and complexity between a short story and a novel".

A simpler definition of a novella would be - fiction that is shorter than a novel but longer than a novelette or a short story that can be read completely in a single sitting.

An important feature that adds value to the question ‘what does novella mean?’ is the word count.

Novella word Count

A novella has a word count in the range of 17500 and 40000 words.

While different sources provide the different word count for a novella, it generally sticks in the range I have given above.

manuscript appraisal agency says that the word count in a novella varies from 10,000 to 40,000 words.

how many words in a novella also says that a novella’s word count should be between 10,000 and 40,000 words.

novella word count

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How many pages are there in a novella?

The word count is directly proportional to the number of pages which becomes another important characteristic in defining a novella.

Let me tell you that a typical novella has about 150 to 200 pages.

While going through the fiction section in a bookstore, if you grab a book that has 200 or less than 200 but greater than 150 pages then you must begin to think that you run into a novella.

Plot in a novella

The features of the novella I described above are quite palpable in nature, let’s move on to a few subjective characteristics of a novella.

You will find the plot in a novella to be less complex than a novel. The writer of a novella focuses on a single idea in the plot or a single conflict.

This may be due to the limitation of the number of words that the writer has to keep in mind but this leads to another intriguing characteristic that is a novella is fast-paced.

Novella doesn’t digress from its main story into subplots or any other history of the current plot.

Think of it like a straight road from source to destination without any small roads branching out of it, which is why you will find that the writer narrates the story in a novella focusing on a single point of view.

Characters in a novella

You won’t find a lot of characters in a novella like you do in a novel.

The story of a novella mainly revolves around the protagonist with only a few supporting characters.

From the perspective of character development, the writer of a novella focuses on the character development of the protagonist only when the story demands it, else you won’t find ‘characters development’ in a novella which is one of the main characteristics of a novel.


A lot of sources say that a novella, unlike a novel, is not divided into chapters but I beg to differ over here.

A novella may or may not have chapters. One of the classic examples of a novella with chapters is ‘The War Of The Worlds’ by H.G. Wells.

Animal Farm by George Orwell is another example of a novella with chapters. The ‘Turn of The Screw’ by Henry James also has the story divided into chapters I, II, III, V, and so on.

Before you move on to the next section, let me tell you that the word ‘novella’ comes from the Italian word, novella, which means ‘new’ in English.

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What is a novel?

A novel is a long narrative prose fiction that, within its pages, binds together a superb plot, subplots, events, and characters that push the plot from the beginning to the climax and finally to the end.

Like the novella, the term novel also derives itself from the Italian word ‘novella’.

If you’re reading a good novel then you would take around 3 to 4 days to finish it. Unless your reading speed is super-sonic you can’t finish a novel in a single sitting.

This pushes towards the next question - how many words in a novel on average?

Word count for novel

A fiction work qualifies as a novel when its word count crosses the 50,000 mark.

The average word count seen in successful novels falls in the range of 50,000 - 70,000 words.

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However, the word count in a novel varies according to the genre.

The word count in a mainstream romance falls in the range of 70,000 - 100,000 words while the word count in a typical SciFi novel is in the range of 90,000 to 130,000 words.

If you’re writing a thriller or a mystery novel then the recommended word count is between 70,000 and 90,000 words. has explained this well in one of their articles. Below is a screenshot of the piece.

Word count in a novel

How many pages are in a novel?

The number of pages in a novel is directly proportional to the novel word count, however, a typical novel contains more than 200 pages.

If you talk about the ideal number of pages in a novel that as a writer you should keep in mind, then the range is 250-350 pages.

‘And There Were None’ the famous novel of Agatha Christie has exactly 250 pages; another famous novel of Christie, ‘Five Little Pigs’, has around 330 pages.

The number of pages in Pride and Prejudice, one of the best novels of Jane Austen, has 367 pages of the main story.

The point behind giving these examples is that in a lot of famous novels you will find the number of pages in the range of 250-350 pages.

Plot in a novel

The plot in a novel is complex.

The plot of a novel is composed of several subplots in addition to a single conflict that goes on from beginning to the end.

A novel explores various other themes apart from its main theme.

Backstories are explored, the scenes at different instances are narrated to an extent such that you can literally visualize them, subplots start, flow on and then they merge into the main plot.

You can think of plots and subplots of a novel as multiple small streams merging into the main river.

Characters in a novel

The characters in a novel are more in number than any shorter forms of fiction such as novella, novelette, or short stories.

Along with the protagonist and the antagonist, a novel’s story contains a lot of supporting characters, and adequate focus is given by a novelist to the development of the characters.

The novelist explores the past or the previous events of many of the characters in his novel which lead to their current state.

Also, a novel presents its story from different points of view, unlike a novella that restricts itself to telling the story from a single point of view.

A novel is divided into chapters. As the story progresses further, you will find the end of the chapters full of surprises and thrills.

Difference between a novel and a novella

To summarize, below is novel vs novella for you point by point -

A novella is shorter than a novel but longer than a short story whereas a novel is a long work of narrative fiction written in prose.

The word count in a typical novel falls in the range of 50,000 - 70,000 words whereas, the word count in a novella is in the range of 17,500 - 40,000 words.

The number of pages in a novella is greater than 150 and less than 200 whereas, a novel has a number of pages in the range of 250-350.

A novella’s plot is less complex than that of a novel, it focuses on a single theme or idea whereas, a novel has a complex plot and along with the main plot it also contains subplots within its pages.

A novella has fewer characters than a novel. A novella presents its story from a single point of view whereas a novel presents its story from the points of view of multiple characters.

A novella is intended to be read in a single sitting, it may or may not be divided into chapters whereas, a typical novel is divided into chapters and usually takes more than 1 day to finish.

Final Word

While developing a reading habit, it is necessary to choose the right form of fiction to read at the right time.

When you’re a beginner, I suggest you begin from flash-fiction then upgrade yourself to short stories, then jump on to novellas, and finally novels.

You’ll enjoy reading each of these fiction forms only if you understand them completely. I hope that after reading this article you’re clear about both novels and novellas.

So, which one are you picking next to read?

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