How long should my story be?

When I started my first novel I asked myself the question, ‘how long should my story be?’ The problem was, I was asking the wrong question and at the wrong time!

As a writer, don’t worry about the length of your story… at least not before you’ve even begun writing. Just write! Stare at the empty screen and start typing. Pound out your first draft and then ask the right question:

Is my story a short story, novelette, novella, novel, or epic?

Once your story is complete, then look at the word count in order to determine what “length” of a story you’ve written. The answer to this question is easy, because it is based on your final word count. Don’t let the desired word count dictate what you write, allow the story to dictate what you write. If you worry about word count, while you’re writing’ you may end up with way more words – and superfluous details – than necessary. 

Now, I’d love to say that there are clear-cut guidelines to how long each type of story should be, but there aren’t. I’ve done a lot of research and it seems the ‘word count’ guide changes depending on who you ask. However, I’ve put together what seems to be the most common ‘suggested’ word counts:

word count

Does this mean you have to adhere to this guideline? Nope, absolutely not! They are just a guide to get you started. Write what you want to write. Tell your story the way your characters are begging you to tell it. When you’re done, call it what you want, but get that story out there for the world to see. Then, pat yourself on the back and celebrate, because you’ll have accomplished something amazing! Something you should be proud of! After you’re done, comment below and tell me what your story is and how long it ended up being, so we can celebrate together.

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