13 differences between story and novel (comparative table)

The difference between story and novel lies in the extension. The story is defined as a short story, while the novel is defined as a longer narrative.

In addition, there is one space-time difference between the story and the novel that determines the precision, accuracy and harmony that characterizes each of these literary genres.

According to the Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, the difference between a story and a novel can be compared to the relationship between cinema and photography. Photography is like a story that reflects a snapshot of life, saving facts, characters and words. Cinema is like a novel, telling a story that shows life or society at a personal pace.

Stories, with few exceptions, usually have fabulous items or wonderful, while novels can integrate reality and fiction in its history.

The plot and narrative in the story are characterized by the simplicity, which allows you to reach all audiences, including children. The novels, on the other hand, are endowed with complexityboth in the plot and in the way of narrating the facts.

Count Novel
Definition Literary genre characterized by a short narrative of usually fictional events. Literary genre characterized by an extensive narrative of fictional or real events.
  • Oral tradition.
  • Literary.
  1. They are short.
  2. Use of fantasy.
  3. It has a central plot.
  4. The narrative is simple.
  5. It has a linear structure.
  6. The timing and space of the story do not usually vary.
  7. His goal is to leave a teaching.
  1. They are extensive (usually).
  2. It can be based on real facts.
  3. The story can have several plots.
  4. The narrative is complex.
  5. It has a variable structure.
  6. The timing and space of the story may vary.
  7. The goal is entertainment.
  • Hansel and Gretelof the Brothers Grimm.
  • The telltale heartby Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Polzetby Charles Perrault.
  • The fastby Emile Zola.
  • The steppe wolf, of Hermann Hesse.
  • The icy heart, of Almudena Grans.
  • Oliver Twistby Charles Dickens.
  • The tunnelof Ernesto Saturday.


The story is a literary genre in which the narrative has a short extension. Stories are usually based on fictional stories and characters, but in other cases, such as realistic stories, real elements are used.

In terms of origin, the story can come from two sources:

  • The oral tradition: myths, legends, songs, romances and popular ballads
  • Literary tales: stories expressed through more cultured language, whether fictional or real.

Characteristics of the story

While several authors have suggested that the differences between a story and a novel may be very vague, it is also true that there are a number of elements that allow us to recognize a story:

1. It’s short

In general, narratives of this type are quite short, since they come from the oral tradition and it was necessary to synthesize the story as much as possible in order to remember and transmit it.

2. Use of fantasy

The story has fantastic elements that can be seen represented in the place of the action (a magical realm), the characters (fairies, supernatural beings) or the plot itself.

3. Focus on one central fact

In general, the story has a central plot around which the characters perform their actions (find a treasure, rescue a princess, find a castle, etc.).

4. It’s easy to understand

The plot of a story is usually very simple, this allows oral or written dissemination to reach more people.

5. It has an identifiable structure

The story usually has a linear structure divided into:

  • Home: presentation of the characters, the space and the time in which the story will unfold.
  • Climax: is the core of the story, which presents a situation that must be faced by the characters.
  • Outcome: The characters resolve the conflict and this leads to the end of the story.

6. The plot takes place in the same place

The whole plot of the story usually takes place in one place (a castle, a field, a neighborhood, etc.).

7. He has a teaching

The aim of the story, in general terms, is to convey an instructive message or morality, a teaching about the essential values ​​of the human being (love, justice, freedom, compassion, etc.).

However, there are stories whose sole purpose is to entertain and enjoy reading.


The novel is a genre based on the narration of fictional or real events in an extensive way. Uses sophisticated literary resources, such as cultured and written language, prose, verse, literary figures, among others.

The origin of the novel is always literary, as it uses resources from formal language and can freely combine them depending on the complexity of the story to be told.

Characteristics of the novel

1. They are extensive narratives

This feature is not entirely rigid because it is possible to find novel narratives with a short extension. In most cases, however, the novel is characterized by the length of its story.

2. It can have multiple plots

A novel can have a single plot, but it can also develop parallel or secondary plots.

3. Stories are complex

Novels may have a higher level of narrative complexity than other genres. Its extension, the use of multiple resources or the abundance of characters are some of the reasons.

4. The structure may vary

Although a novel may have a traditional structure (beginning, climax, ending), the truth is that it is also possible to manipulate this structure in multiple ways.

A novel can start at the end (as in the case of My Name Is Red, by Orhan Pamuk), it can have several beginnings or endings, or it can develop several plots simultaneously. It all depends on the creativity and purpose of the author.

5. Spatio-temporal conditions may vary

In a novel, the times and places in which the story unfolds can change constantly. In this way, a novel can begin in one historical epoch and end in another, the characters can move through different cities, countries or real or fictional scenarios, etc.

6. Its purpose is to entertain

Novels do not usually have a teaching or a moral because their purpose is to entertain the reader. However, this feature is quite subjective, as each reader gives their interpretation to what they read.

In any case, it can be said that many authors do not write in order to teach, but readers manage to rescue some learning from their writings.

See also:

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