The Little Books

Asking an author for her word count is like asking a woman her weight. Just look at this list of story categories!

Micro fiction–under one hundred words
Flash Fiction–100 to 1,000 words
Short short–1,000 to 2,000 words
Short story– 2,000 to 7,500 words
Novelette–7,500 to 15,000 words
Novella–17,500 to 40,000 words
Novel– over 40,000 words

(Compiled by Perry Elisabeth from Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers. These may vary according to publisher.)

This reduces my book The Treasure Hunt to a short story and my current projects to four novelettes, two novellas, and hopefully one novel!

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!

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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.

11 Comment

  1. […] The second is on a new site I recently joined is Wordquill: A Writing and Self-Publishing Symposium. (And in case you are wondering what “syposium” meant like I did, it’s “a collection of essays or papers on a particular subject by a number of contributors”.) I slightly updated and revamped on older post from this blog about just how important (or not) wordcounts really are. It’s naturally called “The Little Books”. […]

  2. Good info to have. People always wonder, but they seldom investigate.

    1. Glad you found it helpful!

  3. Have you read any of the books on that list? I’ve read Fahrenheit 451 and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and loved them both. 😉

  4. You mention some of my favorite books! Makes me feel better that I tend to write short. Short and memorable is okay! Maybe that could be my personal motto, too… Perry: short and memorable. 😉

    1. Definitely! And yes, I think you should change your tagline to “short and memorable”. It covers all the bases–you, your books, your children…

      1. And a tshirt to go with? 😉

        1. Yeah, for the whole team. 😀

  5. I definitely have to remember that quality trumps quantity… I tend to write shorter novels and it can be easy to feel bad or embarrassed because my books aren’t as thick as someone else’s, when there really isn’t any need to feel that way. 😛 Both long and shorter books are equally wonderful! Great post, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad it blessed you! I often have to remind myself that brevity is really nothing to be ashamed of. 😉

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