Short stories have become extremely popular over time, and it’s not difficult to see why.
Short stories are greater for readers because they don’t need to go through hundreds of pages to get the thrill of a story.
Saying this, short story writers need to develop their stories in the same way as novel writers would do with longer fiction.
But do short stories also have chapters like novels? While there are a few short stories from famous writers that have chapters, short stories usually don’t need to be divided into chapters.
In this article, we find out whether a short story should have chapters and how to structure a successful story that’s short enough for a quick read.
Does A Short Story Have Chapters?
No, typically a short story doesn’t have chapters but there are some short stories that are divided into different sections.
This depends on your story and how you develop it. Even some novels do not have chapters.
As long as your short story is well-structured and well written, you do not have to have chapters.
A short story is usually between 5,000 and 10,000 words which is much shorter than the average novel up from 80,000 words.
The shorter length of a short story means that there is little space for developing extensive chapters, although there are no rules around how to structure your short story.
You can choose to create individual chapters or just create smaller sections. This depends on your story and what works best for your written piece.
Some people also think that a short novel split up into chapters is called a short story. That’s not the case.
A short story has to be less than 10,000 words, whether it’s split up into chapters or not.
A written story longer than this is called a novella (usually between 10,000 and 40,000 words).
How Many Chapters Can A Short Story Have?
While it’s uncommon for a short story to have chapters, it’s not unheard of.
Some short stories from famous writers, such as Dostoevsky, have breaks in the form of chapters.
So, how many chapters can you fit into a short story? That depends on your story and how it is structured.
If you like splitting up your story into smaller sections, then you can fit a chapter every thousand words.
The number of shorter chapters also depends on your writing style. If you are a little more playful and experimental, then you can add a chapter here and there.
When you are considering whether your short story should have chapters or not, then it’s worthwhile thinking about whether this suits your story.
If there is no good reason for splitting up your work into sections or small chapters, then don’t do it.
It’s a good idea to read a few other short stories with and without chapters to get a better understanding of what would fit your story and your writing style.
You can then also make a decision whether you would like to try chapters in a short story going forward.
Sometimes it’s worthwhile mixing your writing up a little and experimenting with new forms of writing.
Why Short Stories Don’t Always Have Chapters
There are some good reasons why short stories are divided into chapters very rarely.
Short Stories Are Short
As their name suggests, short stories are extremely short when it comes to word count. They are typically only between 5,000 and 10,000 words long.
This being said, there are no hard and fast rules of what counts as a short story or novella (which sits between a short story and a novel).
Some magazines and publications only publish short stories that are between 3,000 and 5,000 words long.
This doesn’t give you a lot of words to develop your characters and ideas, let alone divide your story into chapters.
That’s why, most short stories do not have chapters and they are not even divided into smaller sections.
This is even more obvious in much smaller pieces such as micro fiction or flash fiction which is anything less than 1,000 words.
On the other hand, novels and novellas are much larger when it comes to word count, so you will more likely be able to divide your work into chapters when you write a novella or novel.
Short Stories Have A Different Sentence Structure
Have you ever thought about what makes short stories so much shorter?
It’s not just that you use fewer words but short story writers also use a different sentence structure.
This typically includes shorter sentences but also a different overall story structure.
As a short story writer, you don’t have much space to focus on larger segments and develop them.
You will need to be concise and bring your message to life in just a few thousand words.
Short Stories Follow A Single Character
One of the biggest differences between a short story and a novel is that a short story only allows you to develop your characters so far.
That’s why, many short stories focus in on a single character and they explore this character in more detail.
There’s simple no room for exploring several characters or even creating subplots in a short story.
This focus on one character allows a short story writer to create an engaging story line which draws the reader in.
Do Novellas Have Chapters?
Yes, novellas can have chapters just like novels. Novellas are a little longer than short stories but shorter than a standard novel.
You can divide your novella into chapters, as long as this makes sense for the flow of your story.
Chapters usually make more sense in longer novellas where you can develop your characters in more detail.
While short stories can have chapters, this strongly depends on your own writing style as well as the story line.
Not all short stories need chapters to create a truly engaging plot.