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The shortest novel you'd consider writing

Insolent Lad

Both the Nebula and Hugo awards put the cutoff between novella and novel at 40,000. Some more mainstream/literary awards put it even lower.


I tend to go by the numbers ThinkerX put up - I've seen them before (I think at SFWA).

But another useful way to think about it is the level of complexity. A short story usually goes straight from the beginning to the end. A novella will usually add a complication or another story layer, and a novel usually has several complications, and often more than one POV.

The Narnia books seem to be a aberration. I believe they are considered novels, but they all come in under 50K. Orwell's Animal Farm is very short, but I think its a novel as well.
Short answer, yes. 40,000 is the lower limit, generally. 50,000 is a more common expectation. At least from my understanding. Plus, it’s also possible there are novels even shorter, but the modern market tends to draw a line at 40k, I think

Can it even be defined as a novel if it's less than 60K words?
So true, there is no set definition of novel length. I’ll offer yet another definition, if it’s so skinny I won’t consider buying it for more than a buck, it is not a novel, and if it has a regular price, ferget about it. And with this addendum, if I open the barely thick enough book and the print is huge to up the page count, it’s not a novel, heh heh.

To confuse things even more, there's this, written by another member here: The Short and Scrappy Guide to Novel Writing: Part 1 | Joseph Malik


How many words do graphic novels have? :sneaky:

Graphic novels are slightly different since they're "novels" because they are a full story contained in 1 book, not a serial where you gotta buy a new comic every week (and the pacing has to be cut up so that it works for each weekly issue). Their word count is a lot less than a regular novel, and a "novel" like the Crank Trilogy will also be really low, since it's written as each page is a poem. A novel like House of Leaves will have a really weird wordcount based on how the words are on laid out on the page. A regular prose novel is ~50k words, and a regularly formatted book is about 250 words/page, so a "novel" is a story that's about 200 pages or more. Graphic novels tend to be about 200 page or more. Watchmen is 416 and Maus is 296. Compare this to a visual novel which could easily have hundreds of thousands of words written but you might not even encounter a lot of it based on the playthrough you do.

As someone else has mentioned, a novel for kids would have a much lower wordcount because of the target audience. Word/page counts are highly variable due to target audience, medium and genre conventions.


Myth Weaver
I can say that once the WIP is wrapped up - word count for the series is going to around 600,000 words, or roughly on a par with Rice's 'Sundering'), I don't plan on writing anything over about 30-35,000 words for a long time...