A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. The English word "novella" derives from the Italian "novella", feminine of "novella", which means “new". The novella is a common literary genre in several European languages.

A novella generally features fewer conflicts than a novel, yet more complicated ones than a short story. The conflicts also have more time to develop than in short stories. Unlike novels, they are usually not divided into chapters, and are often intended to be read at a single sitting, as the short story, although white space is often used to divide the sections. They maintain, therefore, a single effect. Warren Cariou wrote:
The novella is generally not as formally experimental as the long story and the novel can be, and it usually lacks the subplots, the multiple points of view, and the generic adaptability that are common in the novel. It is most often concerned with personal and emotional development rather than with the larger social sphere. The novella generally retains something of the unity of impression that is a hallmark of the short story, but it also contains more highly developed characterization and more luxuriant description.

The novella as a literary genre began developing in the early Renaissance literary work of the Italians and the French, principally by Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375), author of The Decameron(1353)— one hundred novella told by ten people, seven women and three men, fleeing the Black Death by escaping from Florence to the Fiesole hills, in 1348; and by the French Queen Marguerite De Navarre (1492–1549), [aka Marguerite de Valois, et. alii.], author of Heptameron (1559)—seventy-two original French tales (modeled after the structure of The Decameron).

Not until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries did writers fashion the novella into a literary genre structured by precepts and rules, generally in a Realistic Mode. Contemporaneously, the Germans were the most active writers of the Novella (German: "Novelle"; plural: "Novellen"). For the German writer, a novella is a fictional narrative of indeterminate length—a few pages to hundreds—restricted to a single, suspenseful event, situation, or conflict leading to an unexpected turning point (Wendepunkt), provoking a logical but surprising end; Novellas tend to contain a concrete symbol, which is the narrative's steady point. They are still famous now.