What is a Novel?

This is the first in a series of posts about the basics of what a novel is, should be, or can be.

blue-book-mdAccording to Dictionary.com:

A novel is a fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action with some degree of realism. The word is derived Italian, originally meaning ‘new kind of story’.

In the publication industry, a novel must be at least 50,000 words long. Anything shorter is a novella, chapter book, or short story, depending on length. Betterstorytelling.net defines the breakdown as follows:

big bookShort-short stories are under 2,500 words. (also known as flash fiction)

Short stories can range from 2,500 to 7,500 words.

Novellettes are from 7,500 to 20,000 words.

Novellas are from 20,000 to 50,000 words.

Novels are from 70,000 to 90,000 words. (though in some genres, it can be much longer.)

Each of the three books in The Lord of the Rings trilogy are over 134,000 words, and J.R.R. Tolkien intended them to be released in one book, which would have been over 450,000 words. Ultimately the upper limit is only defined by what you are able to sell. The last books in the Harry Potter and Twilight series both approached 200,000 words and sold quite well.

ClipArtSnoopyTypingTo a new author, a novel can seem like insurmountable task which they will never complete. This blog is dedicated to helping authors of all experience levels conquer this mountain, and come out with something worthy of the time put into it.

Before you can set a word length goal for your novel, you need to understand the genre of your work. In future posts I will be giving a brief overview of each genre, including commercial expectations of book length, subject matter, and if I can find it, marketability prospects.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply