Word count in story writing is essential. It determines what category a story should fall into – whether it’s micro fiction, flash fiction, short story, novelette, novella or a novel.
Whatever the length of the story, what matters is getting the readers to be able to read your book without being bored nor nuture the urge to drop your book forever without finishing it.
Having said that, below is the estimated guideline for how long a story should be;
Micro Fiction – (up to 100) words
Flash Fiction – (100 to 1000) words. Some writers write flash fiction up to 1,500 words.
Short Story – (1000 – 7,500) words
Novellette – (7,500 – 20,000) words
Novella – ( 20,000 to 50,000) words
Novel – ( 50, 000 to 100,000) words. Some writers exceed this and sometimes is as an epic or sequel with up to 300, 000 or more words.
What Should Be The Determining Factor For Your Story Word Count?
1. The story itself
The story itself should be the one to determine the word count. Word count shouldn’t determine the story
You started this story and you need to finish it, you shouldn’t allow word count to limit you. Instead you should concentrate on the plot – series of events or scenes that make up the story, finish it and then go back to word count.
At this point you can decide whether to shorten the story to meet up with the word target for certain category by compressing- removing irrelevant sentences or elongating by adding more scenes.
It all depends on you and your story. Whatever you do, make sure your story is well told.
Well established authors do not have to worry about word count as a first book writer.
You know why?
Readers don’t care if their word count is up to 300, 000 words and above. They are huge fans of this author and can’t afford not to buy their books even though they won’t finish reading them.
By the way, I have many well known authors’ books that have sat for years in my library waiting for their turn to be read. I add to that number with new release from those authors. They release, I buy. Who cares if I read them or not? Someone else could visit my library and discover how good they are.
But as long as you are starting off a new book – your first book, word count should matter.
For first novel writers, the word should be limited to 70,000 since lengthy novels with undiscovered strange names bore the readers except for very very captivating story which is hard for first novel writers.
At this time you should concentrate more on building a solid readership before you may decide to break the rules of word count like some well-established authors.
Some publishers require certain number of words for the story they want to publish and if yours is shorter or longer than that, they might either reject your story or ( if they like your story so much) might ask you to either compress it or increase the length
Some Newspapers and Magazines publishers who publish stories on their pages can only take a word count within that of microfiction, flash fiction or a one-page short story. If you want your story to be featured in a corner of a magazine, you need to limit it to be able to fit into the story slot.
How Many Words Per Page Should Your Story Have?
Generally, the preferred standard for word count per page of a story is 250 words.
If this word count per page is the case with all story books, it then means that to find out how many words a story book contains, all you need to do is multiply the page word count with the number of pages. You will know that 300 page book contains 75, 000 words.
Tell your story well and do not allow word count to restrict your story plot. Tell it all, then go back to work on it to achieve the desired word count making sure the story doesn’t lose it’s excellence.
If you decide to work right away with word count in mind, it’s okay. It all depends on what you want to do with your story. Whatever you do make your your story is not impaired by word count.