25 Synonyms for “Story”

By Mark Nichol

So, you’re writing a story? What kind of story? No, don’t unreel the plot for me. Provide some context for the narrative style by telling me what your model is for your tale. This is not about genre, though there may be some overlap; it’s all about the form. Choose from one or more of these words denoting the storytelling technique:

1. Account: a retelling of an event or series of events, sometimes with a connotation of bias or at least subjectivity

2. Anecdote: a short, entertaining story, often involving the person telling it

3. Allegory: a story that expresses ideas about human nature through the actions of stock characters undergoing challenges

4. Annals: historical records of events, generally without subjective annotation

5. Bedtime story: a story read or recited to children before they go to sleep, or anything resembling one at face value or ironically

6. Bildungsroman (German: “education novel”): a novel that charts the lead character’s psychological development

7. Chronicle (see annals)

8. Exemplum: an anecdote or similar story intended to provide a moral or argue a point

9. Fable: a story with supernatural or imaginary elements (such as anthropomorphic animals), often to make an observation about human nature

10. Fairy tale: a story with improbable elements including magic, often incorporating such formulas as a quest, a granting of three wishes, and triumph over evil forces

11. Folktale: a tale originally passed down orally featuring vague, universal story elements

12. Legend: a story significant to a culture and originally passed down as if it had actually occurred

13. Myth: a putatively factual account from the distant past that figuratively explains a cultural phenomenon

14. Narrative: a relation of factual or fictitious events

15. Novel: a long, complicated story featuring an assortment of characters experiencing a series of events

16. Novelette: a short novel

17. Novella (see novelette)

18. Parable: a short tale that a religious or moral principle

19: Record: (see annals)

20: Roman a clef (French, “novel with a key”): a story with thinly disguised versions of actual characters and events

21: Short story: a tale shorter than a novel, featuring relatively few characters and focusing less on plot than on mood

22: Short short story: an especially brief story

23: Tall tale: a story intended to entertain through the introduction of exaggerated elements

24: Urban legend/urban myth: a moralistic or sensational story presented and widely perceived as fact

25: Yarn: a story that is adventurous or humorous or both, and perhaps is a tall tale (see “tall tale,” above)

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