Understanding the Different Lengths of a Story

Have you heard of terms such as novella, novel, short story, flash fiction, or something else? You might not know what these mean and what the word count is for these types of story. In this article, I'm going to list the common phrases and lengths to match the different lengths of a story.

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You may be asking the question, 'How long should my story be?'. Well, it should be however long it takes to tell the story, however, there are some lengths that can serve as a guideline. Here are the terms and lengths.

Micro-Fiction (Up to 100 words): This type of story is particularly difficult to write as the word count is so low but this type of story is becoming increasingly popular and is often used in magazines and blogs.

Flash Fiction (100 - 1,000 words): This is the type of story that is often found in magazines and is the perfect length to often fill a page and provide something fun and creative to different types of publication.

Short Story (1,000 - 7,500 words): This is the most common type of 'short story' and is often used in anthology collections and periodicals. There are also many competitions which are made for short story writing.

Novelette (7,500 - 20,000 words): Novelette's are often difficult to sell to publishers as it's too long for a publication such as a magazine, but too short for a novel. If you're writing this type of story, it's best to self-publish or find an indie publisher who will take this on.

Novella (20,000 - 50,000 words): Most print publishers won't agree to publish a novel this short, unless they commonly deal with this length of story, however, this type of story is perfect for the online market, such as creating an eBook as most online readers tend to find this length perfect for reading. However, this is an acceptable length for non-fiction.

Novel (50,000 - 110,000 words): For a debut novel, a length between 70,000 - 90,000 words is ideal. It's worth noting that some publishers tend to prefer books that are at least 80,000 words. If the novel is reaching over 110,000 words, it tends to be too long and gives editors a pause. Publishers need to be sure that a novel of this length is worth publishing as the more pages your story is, the more it will cost the publisher to print and, ultimately, the more books you will need to sell.

Please remember that these story lengths are guidelines. For the most part, you'll have to use your common sense and gut instinct. If you think your novel is too long or too short, it probably is. Remember that it's the story itself that counts.