Word Count

9 Apr

How long is a story? Obviously it is as long as it needs to be . . . to be told.  However there are expectations. Firstly, there is a semi-rigid classification into:

Flash Fiction – up to 300 words (Bridport Prize up to 250)
Short Story – 250/300 up to 7,500 words (Bridport 5,000; Bristol 4,000)
Novelette (a term conjured from the blue) – 7,500 to 17,500 words
Novella – 17,500 to 40,000
Novel – 40,000 +

But it’s not as simple as that: the expected wordcount varies with genre . . .

Crime/detective novels average around 70-80,000
Sci-Fi/Fantasy around 90-120,000

And with the age of the reader . . .

Young adult fiction 55-70,000
Children no more than 40,000

So, how do already published novels reflect these wordcount recommendations:

Pride and Prejudice – 120,697 words
Lord of the Rings (3 volumes) – 455,125 words
Atonement – 123,378 words
HP and the Philosopher’s Stone – 77,325 words
HP and the Deathly Hallows – 198,227 words

But these were Halcyon days, writers . . . because now it has become a matter of economics . . . ink and paper cost money. So first time authors are being warned to keep their stories below 100,000 words AND that means that I am currently reducing  the novel I have just completed from 123,000 words . . . but oh, what a waste of carefully crafted sentences, of nuances of plot and character detail . . .


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