1. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    How long is a novel?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Vayda, Mar 26, 2008.

    I've never written a complete novel, but I'm working on something now that has too much to fit into a short story...way too much. I feel barely begun and am hitting 6,600ish words. Someone in another thread (forgive me, I forgot who :confused:) said they had just finished a 30,000 word novel. Am I really 20% into a normal-sized novel already? I don't feel 20% into the story.

    What's a normal sized novel, in words?
     
  2. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    Don't know about words, but a good, "average" length of pages seems to be in the 300 range.
     
  3. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    200 pages is usually about 50K words. Longer novels can go for anywhere from 70,000 to 200,000 words long.

    I'd consider 30,000 to be more of a novella...but all classifications depend upon how you think.
     
  4. InPieces
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    InPieces Senior Member

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    Typically, anywhere from 60,000 - 150,000 words is a good novel. Any less, you've got a novella, and any more, you should probably cut that sucker into a trilogy or series :)
     
  5. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    The numbers really vary. Not everyone group will give you the same amount but there is sort of a general assessment that anything over 50,000 words is a novel.
     
  6. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    Ah, that's comforting. I don't look at my (now) 7k words as nearly a "chunk" of a novel. At the moment I would call it a short story, if I could divide it up into something with a relatively....explanatory ending.
     
  7. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Children's novels range from 55,000 to 80,000 words, so I hear. A full-length novel intended for adults ranges from 70,000 to 150,000 words, with really long books (Steven King, Terry *I'm not writing fantasy* Goodkind, Robert Jordan) coming to 250,000 or 300,000 words.

    There is an anecdote, possibly true, about a wealthy English writer who was upper-class and as such was invited to all the important parties. At one of these, the hostess approaches him to ask, "Dear sir, how many words are in a typical novel?"

    "One of mine? Oh, sixty or seventy thousand, I'd wager."

    At this she sighs and looks relieved. "Oh, thank God! I'm done!"


    Note: Yes, that was me being petty in Goodkind's general direction. I've read all of his series save the last one - which recently came out - and am now obligated to read it because I've invested so much time and money already. Bloody thing.
     
  8. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    I don't get the anecdote :(
     
  9. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    She was writing a novel of her own and didn't know whether she'd have to write any more in order to make it qualify as a novel. A (second) joke is that he wasn't expecting her response, since one doesn't usually think of modest Victorian hostesses having a writing hobby on the side.
     
  10. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    Oh, that makes sense. And makes me feel stupid for not getting it sooner, haha :D
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Another layer is that she was measuring completeness solely by the length, rather like knitting a solid-color scarf - when it's long enough, it's done.
     
  12. Bluemouth
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    Bluemouth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not speaking from experience at all here, just from what I've picked up from browsing over the years ...

    If you intend on getting your first manuscript published, don't write 120,000 words+ because it will greatly reduce interest from a publisher. Why should they invest more money in your project if they don't know it's going to be a success?

    Therefore, aim for about 80,000-90,000 words , which is around 300-350 pages. At least, that's what I'm attempting. :)
     
  13. soujiroseta
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    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

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    i've heard the same thing. if you're aiming for publishing, you shouldn't make it too long on the first go wait until getting some support and then bash out your 500,000 word trilogy.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the current first novel optimum size for most publishers is 100k... anything less than 80 or more than 120 will reduce your chances...

    that said, you must check the submission guidelines of every single publisher you intend to submit to, to make sure you're not sending something they will toss as soon as they see the word count... and don't refer to pages, only to total word count, rounded off to nearest 100/500...

    love and hugs, maia

    here's a good rundown of sizes:

     
  15. -NM-
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    -NM- Active Member

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    There's no "set" length for any type of story.

    My book is about 104k words, but with more editing still to do.

    But probably just about 75k+, of course if it's loads more, then you might want to space it out into a series of books.
     

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