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The shortest novel you'd consider writing

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Constantin, Mar 23, 2018.

  1. Constantin

    Constantin New Member

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    How many pages would the shortest novel you'd ever consider writing (and publishing) have? Is a 100-pages long (approximately 25,000 words) novel publishable? Share your opinions.
     
  2. I'm currently writing one that might be only 16,000 words.
     
  3. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    16k, that’s a short story to me, heh heh. 100 pages would typically be considered a novella, I think.

    So, it depends on how technical you’re being with your terms, heh heh. Now, if you ditch the term “novel” you can publish your work at whatever the heck length you want.
     
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  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I submitted a ten word story to a competition last month - they called it a ten word novel. (Winner gets a free writing course, so wish me luck!)
     
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Anything is publishable, if you are publishing it yourself. In traditional publishing, it depends on the genre. In some areas, you can go as low as about 60,000. Then we get into novella territory.

    I would be very cautious of calling something a novel in my marketing, but having it come in at 35k or something like that. It's false advertising and is likely to earn scathing reviews.
     
  6. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Most people I've seen would call 25k a novella. Nothing wrong with novellas, they just aren't novels and shouldn't be marketed as such.

    The lowest word count I've ever seen someone call a novel was 40k, but most list 50k as the absolute minimum. I believe that is the SFWA's official minimum.

    I almost exclusively write fantasy, and most publishers seeking fantasy that I've seen want at least 70k for novels of the genre. Many are a lot higher. Since I'm interested in traditionally publishing, the shortest I'd consider is the minimum of my target market.
     
    Constantin likes this.
  7. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Middle grade novels can be around 25K words, at least lower middle grade.

    I generally agree with some other commenters. "What's in a name?" Heh. Especially, if you are self-pubbing.

    OTOH, I suspect that a novella for adults would be written differently than a middle grade novel, in more ways than content. The structure of the story would probably be different. I.e., there's probably some important difference between "novella" and "novel," but I don't know precisely how to slice the difference.

    As for me personally, to answer your question: Yes, I think I'd write a 25K novel/novella, and sometimes I think that should be my goal.
     
  8. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I'm writing a series of novellas at the moment, and I'm aiming to hit at least 20k words by the second draft.
    As far as page count, that varies with the size of the font and the spacing of the lines etc.
    My first novella came in at 37k words, and it's about 170 pages in print.
     
  9. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    That's not a novel...it's a novella. Novels are in the 50k+ range. Technically, 50k would be your shortest possibility. Although I have a novella series out that'll be the last time I invest in anything less than a full length novel. Most readers seem to prefer longer stories so (for me) writing shorts isn't worth it.
     
  10. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

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    I would consider 40,000 to be the cutoff between novel and novella, but I know different markets and organizations put it where they will. Technically, I also consider a novella to be a novel, a short one but a novel none the less—whereas I would call a novelette a 'long short story.'

    How short would I go? The shortest I've actually written and published came in at 49,900 but most of my little adventures come in right around 60,000, which is my target. Incidentally, my 200,000 word plus 'epic' Donzalo's Destiny was actually written in eleven novella and novelette-sized chunks, all a continuing story but with each with its own arc.
     
  11. So...all but one of my books are novellas, then?
     
  12. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    As pointed out, the lines get blurry and guidelines vary. Still...

    under 1500 words = flash fiction (though the preference is often under 1000 words) Devor's challenge falls into this category. I've written a few stories of this length, but it gets rough.

    1500 - 7500 words = a short story (though the preference is often under 5000) 'Top Scribe Length.' I wrote quite a few stories in this bracket for various Challenges here.

    7500 - 15000 = novelette. Not that popular a length, though I note that Asimov's and F&SF publish quite a few of these. I might have five or six finished tales in this category.

    20000 - 50000 = novella. Lines get blurred between the longer novelettes and shorter novellas. Very roughly 70 - 120 pages. I have noted a veritable explosion of novella length E-Books as of late. For myself, the first draft of 'Labyrinth: Journal' was 44K, before being painfully expanded to 62K. The 'Empire' series was initially envisioned as 'long novella's/short novels' (and are now tending towards the later category.

    50000 - 80000 = short novel. A lot of the stuff put out by the old time greats Andre Norton, DeCamp, Carter, and so on falls into this category, as does a bunch of present day YA books.

    90,000 - 130,000 = novel
     
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  13. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

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    As an aside, I would note that when the name 'novel' appeared in the 17th Century, it applied to any fictional narrative that purported to 'realism,' i.e. was not a play or poetry or that sort of thing. Many of the 'novels' of the period are of short story or novelette length.
     
  14. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    We're talking modern times though. Each genre has their word count cut offs, if you will, but Science Fiction & Fantasy tends to run longer in word count due to word building, etc. Whereas a 40k manuscript can pass as a short novel, in today's time 40k is technically a novella. Most readers want substance to their stories and 50k+ is more of what you will find.
     
  15. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    So far, our second book is turning out to be considerably shorter than our first one, which came in at 130k. *sob* Right now, Book 2 is about 200 printed pages (in trade paperback format) with 3 more chapters and 4 epilogues to go. *more sobbing* However, our betas are in love with the pacing, saying it grabs you and drags you along with it kicking and screaming, so now we're debating how to add length without mucking up the pacing.

    I guess what I'm saying is, sometimes you end up with the book you end up with, regardless of original intentions.
     
  16. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    70,000 words, give or take, shooting for about 80,000?
     
  17. So according to this, I have one novelette [Book IV], four novellas [Books I, II, III, and VI], a short novel [Book V], and two future books that might be a novella and a novel [Books VII and VIII]. Here I thought I was actually writing novels.
     
  18. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Yup, exactly. Not a doorstop, but I'm told it's a good length for urban fantasy.
     
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  19. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Also about on a par for the SF/Fantasy 'golden age' novels, like Norton's 'Witch World' series, parts of which could be considered urban fantasy, as well as LeGuin's 'EarthSea' books - not urban fantasy, but still counted among the all time greats.
     
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  20. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    50.000 as that is the shortest work to be considered a novel normally, and it is an acceptable length in mystery and crime fiction, which are my main fields of interest.

    I have no qualms about publishing shorter work though, but those wouldn't be novels.
     
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