Word Count

Many writers, especially new writers, wonder about how long their projects need to be. The best advice I ever received regarding word count, however, is simply not to worry about it, which is something that’s easier said than done, and even impossible if you’re writing to someone else’s guidelines, such as a publisher or magazine.
When you’re just starting out, or when you’re writing a first draft, it’s a good idea to focus on just getting the words out rather than how many words there should be. Trying to fit everything in a pre-defined word count can be a little stifling, creatively speaking, and that’s not really good for anybody.

If you are determined to aim for a particular word count, or even if you are curious, then here are some standard word count guidelines:

Novel – 40,000 Words and Over
A novel is a long-form work of fiction that is longer than a short story, novelette and a novella. The above word count is a broad generalisation because there are often different guidelines for different genres; science fiction and fantasy novels, for example, can run as much as 120,000 words or more.

Novella – 17,000 – 40,000 Words
A novella is a work of fiction that is longer than a short story and a novelette, but shorter than a novel.

Novelette – 7,500 – 17,500 Words
A novelette is a work of fiction that is longer than a short story, but shorter than a novella or a novel.

Short Story – Under 7,500 Words
Short stories are pieces of fiction that can be enjoyed in a single sitting, and they usually consist of one or two characters and events that often take place over one or more scenes.

Flash Fiction – 750 – 1,000 Words
Flash fiction is also known as the ‘short’ short story, and it is written with the intention of being a quick read. When writing this type of fiction, it is important to keep things brief and concise while still offering entertaining and compelling characters and plot development.

Drabble or Micro Fiction – 100 Words
A drabble is a form of short fiction which relies even more heavily on brevity than flash fiction; you have to condense everything you want to say down to 100 words.

Dribble – 50 Words
A dribble, much like a drabble, also relies very heavily on brevity and conciseness, with your whole story consisting of no more than 50 words.

Six Word Story – 6 Words
A six-word story is a form of extremely short fiction. You must tell a story using only six words.
A perfect example of a six-word story is ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn’ which was reportedly written by Ernest Hemingway, though the link to him has never been substantiated and is often debated.

As always, thanks for spending your valuable time reading my words, I really appreciate it!

Until next time,


© 2018 GLT

Categories: Editing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

14 replies

  1. Speaking of word count, do you know of any publishers who accept novelettes? I haven’t had any luck finding any in my genre. (Realistic fiction, but it’s character-driven, like most literary books.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Reanna, thanks for stopping by! I don’t know of any publishers who are looking for novelettes off the top of my head. But if you send it off to a publisher or an agent the worst that can happen is that you get a rejection, and the best is that they accept your novellete.

      Liked by 1 person


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