One-Minute Book Reviews

August 1, 2007

What’s the Difference Between a Novel and a Short Story? Quote of the Day (Eudora Welty)

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:19 am
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May Sarton described one difference between a novel or short story and poetry in the quote of the day on July 10 What’s the difference between a novel and a short story? Here’s an answer from Eudora Welty:

“I like the fiction writer’s feeling of being able to confront an experience and resolve it as art, however imperfectly and briefly – to give it a form and try to embody it – to hold it and express it in a story’s terms. You have more chance to try it in a novel. A short story is confined to one mood, to which everything in the story pertains. Characters, setting, time, events, are all subject to the mood. And you can try more ephemeral, more fleeting things in a story – you can work more by suggestion – than in a novel. Less is resolved, more is suggested, perhaps.”

Eudora Welty in an interview with Linda Kuehl, Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews (Penguin, 1989), edited by George Plimpton. Introduction by Margaret Atwood. Reprinted from Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews: Fourth Series and issue No. 55 of the Paris Review, Fall 1972. To read the full interview click on and search for “Eudora Welty.”

Comment by Janice Harayda:

Welty made this comment in an interview conducted in 1972. Does her comment still apply today?

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Well, as an author of both short stories and novels, I would have to say I don’t agree with Eudora entirely. I write short stories to encapsulate and freeze-frame a moment in time and memory. Novels are a larger canvas. The intention is generally to cover more ground, literally. Without a doubt I think one of the best short story writers living today is Alice Munro. Her capacity to ‘zing’ the brain/mind at the end of her works is truly astounding. She manages to generate an ‘arc’ of ‘understanding’ that floods the neurons in both new and pleasing ways…. Novels are not so immediately gratifying. They demand more from the reader. In turn, the good ones live with us much much longer. Philip Roth’s ‘American Pastoral’ comes to mind…what an intriguing insightful and well-written work that was.

    When I am writing short stories I generally try to ‘zing’ the reader like Munro in some capacity. I aim for that ‘aha’ moment … With novels I try to give a greater ‘Gift of Self’.

    Structure is essential to both genres, (as well as any written form really). There is little ‘’ about it. It is the difference between merely, for better word, ‘blogging’ and, ‘polishing the craft’. For me anyway. Wouldn’t YOU agree?

    Perhaps you will consider the three short stories currently on my site (…’Chez Nous’, Gone Native, and ‘Manly Men’.
    Chez Nous is the ‘oldest’ even though it has been posted most recently. Gone Native is my favourite on that site. Manly Men was written ‘on blog’ – and I question if it as satisfying or as good as the others? Not sure, it is more as Eudora says, a ‘fleeting’ fragment… more a thought/observation, then a ‘story’ per se…Nonetheless, I consider ALL writing part of the ‘craft’, ie. an on-going voyage of learning and discovery …

    I’d be interesed in your (and other like-minded wordpressers) opinion of my work. If and when you get a sec. Cheers, c

    Comment by canadada — October 29, 2007 @ 10:25 am | Reply

  2. p.s. I MEANT … for lack of better word, ‘blogging’…not ‘for better word, ‘blogging’,… Geez, flying fingers … sorry …

    Comment by canadada — October 29, 2007 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

  3. thanks.:p

    Comment by jinelle — June 23, 2009 @ 5:12 am | Reply

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