1. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    How long is a novel anyway?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by DeathandGrim, Mar 4, 2013.

    I generally don't know what is the size of a novel anyway, the reason I ask this is because I just finished brainstorming for my first story and realized I only have about 15 chapters in the story.

    And most of the chapters are about 2-10 pages long. I only have 6 chapters done with 9030 words.
     
  2. drifter265
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    drifter265 Banned

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    It can always be a short story :).

    Though, I heard that the average novel is 80,000-100,000 words. But there's no rule for these kinds of things.
     
  3. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    You're going to get a range of opinions. The SWFA has a guideline, so do pretty much every other professional organization. If you write for kids it's different too. The lowest I've seen is 40K+ = Novel, but I have seen others say 50K+ and others still that say 80K+. In the end, I think it comes down to understanding the market and genre you're writing for. And again, kids market is different too. I've seen as low as 30K = "novel" for the MG market. But I bet the SCBWI has a guideline on that.

    Good luck!
     
  4. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    Are you showing instead of telling? Are you describing the locations and the characters in enough detail? Do you properly pace things so the characters aren't just jumping from one event to the next?
    If you're doing all that and things are still short, are you telling the WHOLE story? Do you have enough characters? Does your plot wind through the story instead of going straight from point A to point B?
    Is there enough drama? Is there enough action? Is there enough character development?
    Hemmingway once said, "I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of s***. I try to put the s*** in the wastebasket."
    To turn that into advice, don't worry if it's crap. You can fix that when you revise. And don't worry about length. You'll decide that after you revise. :)
     
  5. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I did some research and discovered that my tale may fall under the category of novella or novelette depending on how I word it

    More likely to be Novella considering I'm halfway through and only have 9k words

    Thanks for the answers guys!
     
  6. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Novels fall between 80-120k.

    The HIGHLY preferred word count for brand new writers trying to get published is 80-100k. Various reasons for it. I suggest asking Maia about it, she's got a wealth on knowledge on the subject.
     
  7. GhostWolfe
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    GhostWolfe Member

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    It depends on genre. 60-65k for YA fiction, anywhere up to 100k+ for epic fantasy. Google can tell you what the guidelines for your particular type of book is.

    It isn't really helpful to say "how long is a novel?", a publisher is not going to pick up a 110k word romance, and a 65k fantasy would likely be considered a waste of time.
     
  8. niallohagan
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    niallohagan Member

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    Im aiming for around 100k words for my first draft
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    welcome aboard, d&g!

    as noted above, 80-100k is what most publishers of adult fiction prefer in a first novel by a new and unknown writer...

    and if for the YA market, 40k to around 75k, depending on whether it's aimed at the lower or upper half of the age range...

    if i understand what you say, then you have 9 more chapters to write, which will have you ending up with a 22k +/- word ms... and that puts it squarely in the novella category, making it hard to impossible to find a paying publisher willing to take it on, since it's way too long for a magazine and way too short for a novel, if aimed at the adult market... and still way too short even for YA...

    so it looks to me like you are faced with the task of either cutting it down to 5-7k for a publishable short story, or expanding it to full novel size... unless you want to self-publish it as an e-book...

    hope this helps...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  10. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    While it's good to know, as a guideline, how many words are in most "typical" novels (which, as stated above, is roughly 80K-120K, with some particularly wordy and long tomes going on for 200K or even more -- NOT really allowed for a first time novelist, but more leniency is accorded to established authors with publishing cred), you really shouldn't worry about making your story any particular length. You should write the story that's in you and as it emerges while you're writing it. However long it ends up is how long it is, whether that makes it a novel, short story, or novella.

    As you write your story, I suspect more issues will emerge, and your word count will increase naturally.
     
  11. iWant iStrive
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    iWant iStrive Member

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    I would say about 80k is a reasonable initial goal
     
  12. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Generally, the market calls for novels or short stories, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to publish a novella. There are a lot of "rules" for publishing, especially your debut work, but any of them can be broken so long as it works for your story. For example, author Brandon Sanderson's first published work was over 250k! The length worked for his story.

    But really, you shouldn't be writing to be published, anyway. You should be writing to be a better writer. Write your story as long or short as it needs to be. Make your story the best version of itself, however long or short it needs to be. If you do find that you can't publish it because of its length, write a novel and get that one published. Published authors (going the traditional route, not usually self-published) get a lot more freedom to break the "rules," and it'll be easier to get this story published.
     
  13. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    While this is indeed my first work to complete I do want it to be as true to itself as possible, but at the same time I kinda want to make a profit off of it someday or AT LEAST grab some sort of fan base somewhere

    So in order to publish it under these circumstances I would need to break it up into smaller short stories but this would be difficult considering that the entire story actually needs all of its parts to come together

    Or I would need to combine it with the next part of the story after the ending which would also be difficult because the next tale in the series won't be first person and focuses on more than just the protagonist not to mention a shift in the overall tone of the story.

    The only plausible solution would be to somehow fatten the story with elements that actually can contribute without breaking flow OR break it into sections somehow with numerous cliffhangers (which will get annoying)

    I am at wits end ._.
     
  14. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Keep in mind that whatever work you do on this story will make you a better writer in general. I still strongly recommend you don't alter it just to get published, and focus instead on making it a nice little novella. Novellas do get published. In fact, I just found an interesting article in The Atlantic stating that, while Novella's are currently largely absent from the publishing industry lately, they may be coming back.

    If you can't easily shorten it or split it up into short stories or beef it up to be a novel, I think you have two options:

    1) Write it as a novella. Accept that it's hard to publish, but write for the sake of writing. Any and all work you put into this will make it easer for your next short story or novel.

    2) Set this story aside for now and work on something else. Then you are working on a story that you know has a good shot of being published, although you may not be the story you want to write at this moment. You may fall in love with a new story, it's okay. It's not like our stories are spouses, despite how committed we feel to them. Besides, agents and publishers like to know if you have other stories in the works and that you're not a one-story author, anyway.
     
  15. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    Not necessary. Ebook publishers will be happy to take a book that length. 20k-30k is the ebook novel length. No advance though, just royalties. Have to vet them, of course. No point in giving someone a cut for doing nothing. You have to make sure they'll work for it.
     
  16. BitPoet
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    BitPoet Member

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    I don't think a reputable publisher, be it in traditional printing or ebooks, will advertise a 20k story as a novel. It simply isn't, and the only genres I've seen where books of that length can get away with it are childrens' literature (where big print will make it >100 pages) and erotic stories.

    That said, I'd not try too hard to lengthen the story artificially. I do know cases where publishers accepted stories up to 30k words for inclusion in anthologies, so the chance to publish with a (usually genre-specific) publisher are there. If it doesn't get accepted immediately, then there's also the possibility to write one or two more novellas with a similar theme and sell them together.
     

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