How Long Should My Novel Be?

This, I thought, was a strange question, and while I was learning to write I never encountered it or even thought about it. At least, I can't remember thinking about it.

I always thought a story was as long or as short as it needed to be. I never thought about limitations when it came to story telling, as long as you wrote what was necessary to tell the story, beginning to end.

But there are technicalities to take into consideration when considering word counts, I have found. I don't worry about them much. But if you're writing in a certain genre I guess you need to know the average word counts just to get an idea. I guess publishers and such want the book to be within a certain range in a certain genre.

Short story: up to 7,500
Novelette: up to 17,500
Novella: 20,000 to 40,000
Novel: 40,000 to 100,000 or more

YA: usually somewhere between 20,000 and 70,000
Adult: 50,000 to 100,000
Childrens: 10,000 to 12,000

But here's how I look at it.

Don't waste words.

Don't waste pages and pages of meaningless garble.
Instead, say what you need to say in as few words as possible.
Get right down to the meaningful stuff and finish it.
Don't wait around for that big scene.
The lesson I've learned is that there is always a bigger scene, always a more touching moment, there is always something better to be thought of.

Let's chat! What genre do you write in? Are you going for a specific word count, and what is it?


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