The novels dwindling word count and what that means

When I first started writing I read somewhere that a novel was considered to be from 80,000 to 100,000 words. My first e-novel fit nicely in that range-after I cut over 20,000 words or so. But the book, “Loonies in the Dugout” was a good one. At least I and one reviewer thought so.

Later I read that 100,000 words was too high. Does that mean 100,000 words of good writing should be dismissed. I am not talking about my book, but any novel of such length. Then it changed again. Of late I have been reading that a novel should be between 60,000 and 80, 000, and that the low end is preferred.

The reason being given is that people want a fast read because of time constraints ;that we live in a society where short and quick is good. Forget a lot of description, forget nuance, forget everything, except getting to the point. We want it now.

My question is, who said?

Who determines how long a novel should be? Who decides that we need to be short and quick? And further, do we read these things as fact and therefore follow along with what we read and see, and what we are told. Or do we make up our own minds. I confess that I will not read Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” because I believe it has too many characters, too much history, and too much time to cover. That is my presumption, though I have no idea if I am accurate or not. But I have no trouble reading long novels such as “Infinite Jest” by David Wallace or “Gravity’s Rainbow” by Thomas Pynchon.

Two points. One is that if the book looks interesting no matter the length or word count, buy it and read it. We should not be told  how long a novel should be, nor should we be told that we must follow along with the short and quick theory. There is plenty of time to set aside to read and absorb a good book.

Second, my novel in progress is at 62, 000 words. I was trying to figure out how to lengthen it to 80,000 words. No easy task because I felt I was near the end, and I did not want to pad the story. Now I know I can write the final chapter and get it published. I was told it was okay.



Filed under dalies, e-book publishing, fiction, fiction writing, Uncategorized, writers, writing

2 responses to “The novels dwindling word count and what that means

  1. I did the same thing- researched word count & was surprised as well at the results. I originally aimed for between 80-100K- when I submitted it to my editor it was 85k- now it is 74k … I have been debating on whether I need to add more. But do I really want to add something for the sake of a number (NO!). Who knows what it will be after my next draft, but I am with you- good is good – don’t judge a book by its size 🙂


  2. Right here with you. I think some of the “sizing” of novels makes sense just to put it in a category (novel vs. novella, for example), but the pinning down on who wants what for the word count thing is a strange beast.

    In the spirit of Captain Barbosa, I think we should view them more as “guidelines.” 😉


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