Friday, January 10, 2014

How long indeed...

My good friend and fellow author, Allison Cosgrove, asked me a question today that made me want to share some information with all of you. 

Her question was, "How long are romance novels?" I replied that they could be "as long as you want them to be" and asked why she wanted to know. Allison said she felt she was being tested because an idea for a romance novel is nagging her Muse and she's already got a work in progress. I told her I knew how that felt, because the same thing has been happening to me lately. When I asked if she meant in pages or words, she said "Words", and I replied that the accepted minimum word count of a novel is 50,000 words. 

We then delved into a conversation about the length of different kinds of books, but I'm going to share with you all the info that I found. On the website Novel Writing Help, they gave the following numbers for fiction:
  1. Short-short or Flash Fiction: anything under 1,000 words
  2. Short Story: 1,000 to 7,500 words; also listed was "a word count of under 20,000 words"
  3. Novelette or Long Story: 7,500 to 20,000
  4. Novella: 20,000 to 50,000 words
  5. Novel: 50,000 words or more 
Another, somewhat more detailed breakdown, comes from the Science Fiction Writers of America:
  1. Drabble: Precisely 100 words
  2. Vignette: 101 to 2,500 words
  3. Short Story: 2,501 to 7,500 words
  4. Novelette or Long Story: 7,501 to 17,500 words
  5. Novella: 17,501 to 40,000 words
  6. Short Novel: 40,001 to 60,000 words
  7. Novel: 60,000+ words

In both of these length lists, I added "or Long Story" after Novelette because Novel Writing Help stated that "novelette" was considered a derogatory term. Personally, I've never heard that and have never seen it as such. Wikipedia wrote it up as being longer than a short story, but shorter than a novella -- thus, novelette.  Novel Writing Help also says the "ideal length" of a novel is between 80,000 and 100,000 words, and if you're an independent author like me, you have free reign as to how long or short you want your story to be. However, if you are hoping to be signed with a publisher, please remember to visit their website to see if they have a word count limit, as some of them do for certain genres.

According to both of these lists, I've written two novelettes (Nice & Naughty and The Beauty in the Black Room were each just shy of 10K) and four novels (Fire Born was just shy of 78K; Chasing Shadows and From the Shadows around 109K; Two Evils just over 118.5K). I think I've done pretty well for myself. :)