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Thread: Word counts?

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Word counts?

    I've been working on some stories over time. I write for recreational purposes, and so have a tendency to start and abandon stories according to my whims. But even abandoned stories don't stay that way forever, and sometimes it's actually fun to dust off an older story and get back to working on it.

    I don't suppose there's a hard and fast rule for how many words a story should be? I don't plan to end any of my stories, but to split them up if it makes more sense.
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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Word counts?

    It depends on your audience and how the story is supposed to be read. A joke can be a single sentence, a professionally published short story is I think usually around 10,000 words, a novella is 20,000 and a novel around 50,000, sometimes less, sometimes several times as much.

    For a story that's supposed to be read online in a handful of sittings 10,000 might be a decent upper limit, that's about 20 pages (A4 or letter) worth of text.



    Then again, for the story to be good the length needs to work with the story you're telling. No sense cramming a novel into a short story or stretching a joke into a novel. Write what you want to write, then worry about where the right audience for your story can be found.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Word counts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Haruspex_Pariah View Post
    I've been working on some stories over time. I write for recreational purposes, and so have a tendency to start and abandon stories according to my whims. But even abandoned stories don't stay that way forever, and sometimes it's actually fun to dust off an older story and get back to working on it.

    I don't suppose there's a hard and fast rule for how many words a story should be? I don't plan to end any of my stories, but to split them up if it makes more sense.
    Exactly enough to say what you want to say.

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    Default Re: Word counts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Haruspex_Pariah View Post
    I've been working on some stories over time. I write for recreational purposes, and so have a tendency to start and abandon stories according to my whims. But even abandoned stories don't stay that way forever, and sometimes it's actually fun to dust off an older story and get back to working on it.

    I don't suppose there's a hard and fast rule for how many words a story should be? I don't plan to end any of my stories, but to split them up if it makes more sense.
    A story can be of any length that's sufficient to convey what it's trying to. Anything under about 1,500 words would probably be called "flash fiction" these days. A publisher with which I'm familiar certainly used to want its short stories to be a maximum of around 7,000 words in length, although this varied. Anything up to about 15,000 words will probably be considered a "short story" by someone. NaNoWriMo considers a novel to be a minimum 50,000 words, although that's a fairly short novel, equivalent to about The Great Gatsby. There is no upper limit for novel length, although there might be a practical limit at about the 1,000 page mark.

    Anything in between can be considered a novella, or a long short story, or in some contexts, a novel. Heart of Darkness is definitely a novel, and that's under 40,000 words.

    Some of this will be down to publication norms, though. Certain page counts (and therefore word counts) are more common than others and therefore cheaper to bind, so publishers will encourage authors to try to hit those marks in books intended for print, unless the book is going to sell gangbusters and justify a higher print cost. So certain guidelines have become established, but there are no hard and fast rules.

    The conclusion is to write a story that's the right length for the story it's trying to tell. Length really doesn't matter that much. There's no point padding it to fit some arbitrary minimum word count; equally, while there is something to be said for brevity, don't write to an arbitrary maximum either and try to cram your story into too short a space.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Word counts?

    I've been told 50k for a single book.

    I'm currently writing a CYOA for online consumption only. It'll be way too large for print.
    I'm at 70k right now with miles to go. So Write as much as you want, just realize that at some point actual print becomes unweildy.

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    Default Re: Word counts?

    Just for reference, the Fallout: Equestria fanfic is 610,000 words if I recall correctly.
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    Default Re: Word counts?

    I can only talk with authority about YA, but if we're talking Actual Published Stuff, the sort that's survived the vicious procedure of going through an agent, editor, publishing house, etc, it'll look a little like the following (keep in mind this isn't actually based on how books should be if you're writing for yourself, but rather what those in the industry see as standard):

    - The standard, run of the mill fiction novel is roughly 65-90k. That's a standalone non-fantastical, set-in-our-word book for adults. No bells, no frills. Classics and books from before the modern publishing industry was cemented as it now is will definitely buck the trend, but that's either because the author had contacts in the industry, was rich enough for it to be financed by private means, or was Ulysses and was designed to be usable as a bludgeoning weapon.

    - If it's got any supernatural / fantastical / not-of-our-world facets, you can bump it up by at least 10-20k, because the story needs to give the reader much-needed time to originate in a world with rules they're not familiar with. Adult Sci-Fantasys all want to be the next Tolkien, and generally tell wide, sweeping dramas that take more than couple of books, so expect big numbers like 120k-180k.

    - Generally speaking, the younger your audience is, the lower the wordcount. Not always, but generally teenagers are seen as less likely to have the concentration span for the upper echelons of 100k. Picture and your first chapter-based books fluctuate between 5k to 10k, 40-60k for Middle grade, gradually increasing to 60-80k for young adult. However, YA these days is seen as less of the shameful younger sibling of Normal Professional Adult books and more like the powerhouse of the market, so it's fairly common for the Science-Fantasy YA big names to push 100-120k. Whether they need it to tell their stories they're telling is another question altogether . . .

    - Thrillers, horrors and crime novels generally are on the slightly shorter side, mostly because they're seen as books you can steam through and because it's harder to hold a line of tension for longer periods.

    Again, I will stress: Unless you're trying to get published, none of this matters. Write however much you want, whatever you want, in whatever style and genre you want! Seriously, from personal experiences, don't get bogged down worrying yourself silly about wordcount and whether your story 'fits' its genre. You'll only end up shooting yourself and your story in the foot by curtailing yourself and accidentally cutting yourself off from writing the good stuff, or adding in things that don't serve the story in order to reach some false quota. Write what makes you feel satisfied for having written. I just find it's useful to know what's expected, so you can plan accordingly whether you want to follow that trend. Like they say; learn the rules before you break 'em.
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    DeTess's Avatar

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    Default Re: Word counts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Haruspex_Pariah View Post
    I've been working on some stories over time. I write for recreational purposes, and so have a tendency to start and abandon stories according to my whims. But even abandoned stories don't stay that way forever, and sometimes it's actually fun to dust off an older story and get back to working on it.

    I don't suppose there's a hard and fast rule for how many words a story should be? I don't plan to end any of my stories, but to split them up if it makes more sense.
    From a simple book-binding issue going over about 300k words (more than 1000 pages) is going to start creating trouble. IIRC, the publisher of the recent most book in brandon Sanderson's 'stormlight archive' series had to come up with some innovations in binding to be able to create the books as one volume.

    As long as you're not limited by such physical concerns though, the length of your story shouldn't matter.
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