How Long Should It Be?

I’ve noticed over the past several years of trying to get stories published (I’m speaking of fiction here) that there doesn’t seem to be a standard number of words that defines the different divisions of story length.  The names of the different story lengths are reasonably uniform, though even in that case there’s a difference of opinion as to just what they are, and even how they’re spelled.  Far be it from me as an unpublished author to tell the powers that be exactly what should constitute a story length, but I would like to add my voice to the already confused field and, perhaps, confuse it even more.  Here’s my suggestions as to the length (in words) of the different story sizes.

Short-short story (also known as flash fiction):  0 to 1500 words
Regular short story:  1501 to 7500 words
Novellette (sometimes spelled ‘novelet’)  7501 to 25,000 words
Novella:  25,001 to 60,000 words
Novel:  60,001 to 250,000 words
Tome:  greater than 250,000 words

These figures may reflect my interest in science fiction since many science fiction and fantasy novels can run upwards of two hundred thousand words and more.  (Look at the novels of George R.R. Martin.)  It’s not unusual for SF and fantasy to be this long, though novels in other genre may be much shorter.  But these figures do maintain a strong division between the novellette, novella and the novel, a distinction which I think is essential because each has its specific and recognizable niche in fiction.


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