Book Length

I have been working on Six Days To Sabbath for a while now, and it is going fairly well. I have about 23,000 words so far. The problem is that I was fully intending this to be a novel, and I seem to be running out of story. I’m trying to stretch it out, but it’s starting to look more like it will only be long enough to be a novella.

So the question is, how long should you make your story? The numbers I have seen seem to indicate that a novel should be a minimum of 50,000 words, with many current books running into the 120,000 word range. A novella runs at about 30,000 words, and short stories are usually 500 to 1,000 words.

Here’s a breakdown of the lengths of my completed works:

  • Dragons At Dawn – 50,000 words (novel)
  • Finding Valhalla – 63,000 words (novel)
  • Zombie Guinea Pig – 1,000 words (short story)

The answer that I have come up with for the question of story length is: As long as it needs to be. Seriously, don’t get worked up about making the story longer if there isn’t anything more to tell. Your story will be better if it is tight than if you pad it with unnecessary words.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t add necessary words, however. As I said, I am trying to stretch out my story to make it as long as possible. But what I am doing is adding scenes, dialogue, description and exposition that add to the story. They make the characters and the settings more interesting and more real. If you can add something in your writing that brings more to the story, then go ahead and put it in. You can always edit it out later if you change your mind.

What do you think about story lengths? What was the longest piece you have written? The shortest?


1 Comment

Filed under The Writing Experience

One response to “Book Length

  1. Yes, that is an issue I struggle with…my five published novels are all pretty long, with the longest one being 180,374 words, which translates into around 465 printed pages.

    My shortest one (so far) was 121,931, at 365 printed pages.

    My current WIP, which I hoped would be shorter than my others is now at 92,525 words. I feel as though I’m winding down with it, which is good.

    I’ve discovered that readers seem to think “less is more,” in terms of what they buy. The cost is more affordable, too.

    However, as you say, the book will be as long as it needs to be. I really needed that long one in my collection…it was a saga spanning three decades. Sort of like my life…LOL

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