Asking an author for her word count is like asking a woman her weight. Just look at this list of story categories!
Novelette–7,500 to 15,000 words
Novella–17,500 to 40,000 words
Novel– over 40,000 words
I am not J.R.R. Tolkien. Painful revelation, right? The Hobbit was considered his “short story” at 95,022 words. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a whopping 455,125 words. The only way I would ever get that word count is by totaling up a lifetime’s worth of school pages, emails, blog posts, journal entries, and stories!
Fortunately, I do write MG/YA fiction which makes shorter works more acceptable. After all Sarah, Plain and Tall was only 9,000 words. Stuart Little doubles that at 18,841. Number the Stars is 27,197. All of these little books are considered childhood classics.
Quality over quantity. (You already knew that.) Readers don’t count words. They turn pages eagerly or toss the book aside. They focus on characters and storyline. Nothing more.
Maybe your story should be longer. Does it feels abbreviated? Take it back to the drawing board! If you have plot holes–fill ’em up! Or is it too simplistic? You know what to do. (And don’t summarize your denouement, Alcott.)
But if lengthening your story means it will turn into an episode of Month of the Novel–please don’t. Throwing in unnecessary details to feel like a legit, long-winded author just killed your story. And your readers. And your ratings.
As a reader, I love thick books that promise days and days of delight ahead; but I also love the little books that are just the right size to tuck away inside my heart in one short afternoon. Write for your Audience of One and for your readers–not for your own word count worries. Let the story itself decide how long it will be.
And by the way, here’s a list of a few books that are too short to make the NaNoWriMo cut but made literary history anyway. 😉 (I can’t recommend all of them.)
All images from pixabay.com.
Kate Willis has never fallen down the rabbit hole, her wardrobe only holds clothes, and tickets to Neverland are too expensive; but she is on an adventure. She lives with her artistic family and writes about the love of God and ordinary adventures. She would love to grow up someday and have a family of her own, but for now you’ll find her writing more books with chai tea in hand. Connect with her on her blog, read her short stories at http://noblenovels.weebly.com/kate/, and follow what she’s reading and reviewing on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8287893.Kate_Willis.