Story Formats
3 min read

Choose your fighter: the novel, novella and short story

A yellow and orange typewriter.

As a writer, it's important to select the format that best suits your story. Fiction writing has three primary forms: the novel, novella, and short story. Each form has its advantages and challenges, so understanding their unique characteristics will help you decide which form is most appropriate for your work. This blog post aims to provide the necessary insights to make an informed decision.

Understanding the differences

The novel

The novel is the most common and extensive form of fiction writing. It typically exceeds 40,000 words, allowing for more complex plotlines and character development.


The novella

The novella is a shorter form of fiction, typically ranging between 20,000 and 40,000 words. It strikes a balance between a novel's complexity and a short story's brevity, providing an opportunity for more focused storytelling.


The short story

Short stories are succinct fiction, usually under 7,500 words, focusing on a single idea or event. They're ideal for exploring a particular theme or character without an intricate plot.


Factors to consider when choosing your format

The scope of your story

Consider the number of characters, depth of plot, and the world or setting you wish to explore. A broader scope may require a novel, while a smaller one might be better suited for a short story or novella.

Your writing style and strengths

Do you prefer concise or detailed writing? Can you maintain focus and interest over longer work? Assess your experience and comfort level with different formats to help you choose the best fit for your project.

Time and commitment

Estimate the time needed to complete each type of work and balance it with your other responsibilities. Setting realistic goals and deadlines will help you stay on track and avoid burnout.

Tips for making the decision

Experiment with different formats

To gauge your preference, write a short story, novella, and novel chapter. This will also help you discover your writing strengths and weaknesses through practice.

Seek feedback from others

Share your work with writing groups or beta readers, and learn from the experiences and opinions of fellow writers.

Consider your target audience

Identify the preferences of your intended readership and research market trends and successful works in your genre.

Embracing the journey

Flexibility and adaptation

Be open to change while writing and recognize when your story may benefit from a different format. There's no one-size-fits-all solution. Even if you have a preference for a certain format, your story may benefit from something different. Be flexible and willing to adapt as needed.

Celebrating your growth as a writer

Learn from each writing experience and embrace the challenge of tackling different formats. As a writer, you are constantly evolving and growing. Celebrate your growth and embrace the journey of tackling different formats. Ultimately, the most suitable format will help your story shine and resonate with readers. Take the time to explore, experiment, and grow in your craft.

When choosing the format for your story, it's essential to consider its scope, your writing style and strengths, and the time and commitment you're willing to invest. You shouldn't hesitate to experiment with different formats, seek feedback from others, and consider your target audience when making your decision. As a writer, you're constantly evolving and growing. Embrace the journey and be open to change, adapting your story's format if needed. Ultimately, the most suitable format will help your story shine and resonate with readers. Take the time to explore, experiment, and grow in your craft.