Posted in Stories, writing

Embracing the Longer Story

When you’re first starting to consider a longer story, writing something as long as a novel can seem a bit like climbing a mountain. While that’s not entirely incorrect, it’s far more important to remember finishing your novel is not in fact, a race. Your leisurely hike to The End Peak can take you as long as you like. Your novel will be there and waiting for you when you need to take a day off to go do things like the dishes, or research or what have you.

Like climbing a mountain however, there are definitely things you need before you get started on it.

Know your style. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Or, are you a comfortable mix of both? How fully do you need your idea fleshed out before you’re ready to start with ‘Once upon a time’? Knowing your particular style and process is going to make starting a lot easier because it makes preparing easier, and it means that when you hit a snag you’re less likely to become discouraged.

Be prepared for anything. This literally means anything. From a computer crash to a brilliant solution occurring at two a.m, be prepared. Back up your files regularly (both physically and digitally) and don’t discount other ways of keeping notes such as as a voice recording for those moments when you just can’t write something down.

Pace yourself. The novel range starts somewhere around 50,000 words, depending heavily on genre and target audience.  To do that in 30 days, you’d have to type 1,667 words per day without missing a day. To type that much in an hour you’d have to sustain a typing speed of roughly 28 words per minute without stopping. That sounds doable, but real life often gets in the way–and remember that’s only the starting range. Some genres like sci-fi and fantasy can have much higher ranges, and that’s only the writing portion. None of that accounts for editing or research. Remember to take things at your own pace.


Posted in Stories, writing

Word Count

Word count is one of the most important pieces of information for determining what type of story you’ve written (short story, novella, novel, etc.) and for helping sell your story, be it to a traditional publisher or to help figure out independent and self-publishing.

Some typical counts for various story formats include:

  • Flash or Microfiction: Less than 1,000 words. Microfiction especially can be less than a hundred words.
  • Short stories: between 1,000 to 7,500 words or so. There’s still a lot of leeway here, as there isn’t an exact definition or cut off between having a short story and having something longer.
  • Novelettes: are about 7,500 to 17,000 words. Again however, this isn’t a hard and fast definition, since there’s plenty of bleed between this and a short story.
  • Novellas: somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 words. Notice the huge gap between this and the novelette? Depending on the genre as well, what you might think of as a ‘novel’ is far too short for that genre’s standards.
  • Novels: 40,000 to 110,000 words. Though generally, you’ll find a traditional standards and guidelines ask for around 60-80k. And again, depending on the genre you might have a slightly different range.

Genre can change a lot about the accepted range for a piece as well. Science Fiction and Fantasy tend to have a little leeway on the upper end of the range as they rely heavily on world building and description to immerse readers in the world. By contrast, romance novels can be shorter because the focus should be on the characters and plot.

If you’re planning on publishing your story with a publisher or a house, always check and follow their guidelines. If you’re looking at self-publishing, you may want to consider how long other works in the same category and genre are.