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antimatter's avatar

What is the diference between an essay, a short story and a novel?

Asked by antimatter (4229 points ) March 28th, 2013

Out of curiosity is there a rule how many words do you have to write if you write an essay, a short story or a novel?
Does an essay have two thousand words and after three thousand words you have a short story and after ten thousand words you have a novel?

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12 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

They are completely different genres and styles of writing.

An essay is a piece of non-fiction writing and takes an interpretive, comparative and/or analytical approach to a topic. An essay could be quite short (500 words) or long (a few thousand words).

A short story is a narrative piece of creative writing. A short story may be very short or quite long but is shorter than a novel. This Wikipedia page suggests a short story with less than 1000 words is called a short, short story. This page suggests a short story shouldn’t exceed 20,000 words. I’m not sure whether there is a more authorative source regarding word lengths.

A novel is a longer piece of creative fiction in a narrative form. A shorter novel would be called a novella.

Each has its own style and structural elements.

Bellatrix's avatar

^^ authoritative.

citizenearth's avatar

I think you mean “difference” instead of “deference” which is a totally different meaning.

antimatter's avatar

@citizenearth never even noticed…

antimatter's avatar

@Bellatrix thank you that cleared things up a bit.
English is not my first language and I am going for therapy and a part of my therapy is that I must write a short story for every session. My short story should be more than two thousand words.

Bellatrix's avatar

There are lots of resources online to help you with your writing. Writing is very cathartic so I hope it helps you. Are your stories supposed to be based on your real life experience or works of fiction?

Depending on whether you need to write non-fiction or fiction, do a Google search to find resources to help you understand the structure of a short story. I think, given the purpose of your writing, you shouldn’t get too bogged down in the technicalities of writing. Just getting your thoughts down as a story is probably going to be a good start.

Let us know how you go. There are a number of writers here so if you have more questions I’m sure people will be happy to help.

antimatter's avatar

@Bellatrix thank you and that’s why I love fluther every body cares!
Nope my stories is based on real life events that happened to me.

bookish1's avatar

Difference.
Deference is a gesture/attitude of humility or submission to an authority.

antimatter's avatar

Okay I get it @bookish1, thanks.

christophercostello's avatar

An “essay” is necessarily non-fiction – a discussion of facts.Essay is usually fact based and has an viewpoint or opinion.

A “short story” is a short piece of fiction. A short story would be a subplot(real or fiction) that happened any where.
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SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Let’s toss “novella” into the mix. I believe it falls somewhere between a short story and a novel.

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