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Archive for July 30th, 2015

When I’m working on a story, I never know what length the finished manuscript will be. If it’s a “small” concept, I assume it will be a short story (1,000-7,499 words). If there’s a bit of world-building involved, even with a “small” concept, I drift into the novelette length (7,500-17,499 words). If I know the concept is a little more complicated, plus there’s some world-building, I suspect the finished manuscript will land in the novella length (17,500-40,000 words). And then, there’s that moment when a writer suddenly realizes your novella wants to leap into novel territory! (40,000+ words)

But I’m talking speculative adult (new and/or old adults) fiction, not other genres. Which is why I used the lengths in the above categories as set forth by the Hugo Awards.

Plus, you’ll see I didn’t say anything about fiction under 1,000 words. Those short pieces fall in the rather nebulous category of flash fiction. Acceptable lengths for flash fiction are usually listed by various publications in their writer’s guidelines.

Now, here’s where all this gets tricky! Each genre has different length requirements. What would be too short for Epic Fantasy, is perfectly fine for a Western. The length of a Middle Grade novel really depends on which middle grade you’re writing for. And a picture book manuscript should almost always be under 1,000 words.

Here’s a good article from Writers Digest with lots more information. Happy reading and writing!

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