4.10.15

When Fiction Words Count


Readers generally refer to the number of pages in a novel. On the other hand, with authors and publishers, it’s the number of words. The word count is important to the author and publisher because it defines the fiction structure and type.

There are many variations concerning the correct number of words for each type of fiction, because there are no set rules. The following are parameters given by the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), Joan Rosier-Jones (author / teacher), and Lee Masterson (freelance writer and editor).

Fiction - Type & Words

SFWA (Nebula Award criteria):-

Short Story: under 7,500
Novelette: 7,500 -17,500
Novella: 17,500 – 40,000
Novel: over 40,000

Joan Rosier-Jones (So You Want To Write):-

Novella: 20,000 - 30,000
Slim Novel: 50,000
Average Novel Length: 65,000 – 90,000
Long Novel: 90,000 – 150,000
Blockbuster or Fantasy Novel: 150,000 – 300,000

Lee Masterson (Fiction Factor):-

Micro Fiction: up to 100
Flash Fiction: 100 – 1,000
Short Story: 1,000 – 7,500
Novelette: 7,500 – 20,000
Novella: 20,000 – 50,000
Novel: 50,000 – 110,000
Epics and Sequels: over 110,000

As you can see from the varying numbers above, there are really only guidelines as to how long a fiction piece should be.

Genre also has a bearing on word count estimations, some of which are much more uniform, such as Young-Adult (20,000 – 40,000). However, those numbers equate to the number of words for a Novella in Main-Stream fiction. Many genres are also now requiring higher word counts, such as Mystery and Science Fiction: once 60,000 – 70,000, now 90,000 at the higher end.

My advice is to just write until it ends naturally, and submit according to a particular entity’s requirements.


All the best…J

© Copyright Jan Reid-Lennox. All Rights Reserved.