How Long Should My Novel Be?
“How long should my novel be?” is one of the most frequently asked questions among new authors. In fact, a lot of seasoned veterans ask this question, too.
The word count of your novel is just as important as the topic, the title, the plot, and the characters. Why? – Because you want to make sure that you don’t lose the attention of your readers, yet you also want to ensure that you can effectively develop your story and answer all questions. If your novel is too short, you may leave a lot of readers asking, “What happens next?” or “That was all?” If it’s too long, your audience may end up getting bored and put your novel down before they finish.
So, how long should your novel be? That’s a tough question to answer. The truth is, there isn’t a definite answer. Subject matter, details, character development, and various other elements will certainly play a big part in determining the length of your book. However, there is another key element that will also have a big influence on the length of your novel: your audience.
Though you should certainly stick to your natural style, you definitely want to consider the age of your target audience. Why? – Because it definitely plays a huge part in their attention span.
Word Counts for Different Book Types
You can get a good rough idea for the word count of your novel by categorizing the type of novel you are going to be writing and your target audience. Obviously, an 8-year-old isn’t going to have the attention span to read something a book that has a hefty length like “War and Peace”, just like adults aren’t going to be too keen on reading a novel that only has a few chapters.
With that said, here’s a look at the average word length for novels based on their intended audience and their genres:
- Children’s chapter book. No less than 1,000 words and no more than 10,000 words
- Middle grade chapter book. No fewer than 20,000 words and no more than 50,000 words
- Young adult novels. Between 40,000 and 70,000 words
- Adult fiction. Up to 100,000 words, but no less than 40,000.
- Romance. Between 50,000 and 100,000 words
- Science fiction and fantasy. The average length should be between 90,000 and 120,000 words. You can try to stretch it longer, but if you go over 150,000 words, you’ll test the patience of your audience.
- Historical fiction. The average length for this genre is the same as science fiction and fantasy.
- Mystery, thriller, horror. A length of 70,000 to 90,000 words is recommended, as this is the ideal amount to build suspense, reach a climax, and come to a conclusion.
Of course, these word counts are recommendations. There aren’t any solid rules that are set in stone; however, in general, it seems that these counts are pretty standard and appeal to the audiences who each type of book is intended for.