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Matt.Simpson01
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Define a novel, novelette, and short story. Just wondering, because i've been reading a lot of older books from the fifties and sixties that my dad bought. Some are thick, and some are relatively thin. Does the time those books come from differ from the length of books that most people are used to these days?

Some of those novels are only a couple hundred pages long, while some top 400, which is more normal to me.

All opinions are accepted.


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Wolfe_boy
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If I remember correctly, I read a post about this a couple years ago.

Flash is less than 1K words.
Short story is between 1K & 10K
Novellette is between 10K & 60K
Novel is beetween 60K & 120K
Multi-book Series is greater than 120K

What's the purpose of your question?


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KayTi
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And the industry average is about 250 words/page...if that helps.

There are novels that are far beyond the 120k length, but for our purposes in selling work, a first-time author needs to be at or under 120k, is my understanding.

My YA efforts are all between 60k and 80k, although there are also exceptions in YA publishing where novels are more than 80k.


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Matt.Simpson01
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The purpose is to know about the length of stories that are normally written and how some of the books from the golden age of scifi differ in length from what is produced now.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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The science fiction and fantasy award (Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy, etc) categories are broken up a little differently:

Short story--up to 7499 words

Novelette--7500 to 17,499 words

Novella--17,500 to 39,999 words

Novel--40,000 and above


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KayTi
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My experience with golden age sci fi is that many are at or under 80k. The longer works were the exception, not the rule. Heinlein seemed able to write longer and longer works as his career progressed. Asimov too, to some degree (these are the golden age authors with whom I'm most familiar.) But early works of theirs might have only been in the 50-60k range, as is true of others of their contemporaries. It was also the age of "pulp fiction" - which I think has its own definition, and was right around the 50k range as I recall.

Today's standards are different, though I personally prefer shorter works (sub 100k) because I feel like a story doesn't need eight hundred pages to be told (an eight hundred page story is really four or five or more different stories, in my humble opinion.) I prefer YA/mid-grade fiction for this among many other reasons.


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Matt.Simpson01
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Another author that i have enjoyed, Andre Norton, wrote many books that were only around two hundred pages long. I have one book of Heinlein's called Podkayne of Mars, and it is only 175 pages long. Among the ones i have read, the stories generally stay around one plotline and rarely have multiple things going on at the same time, which is something i like.

The two longest books i have ever read are The Stand and Battlefield Earth. While these are very good in their own right, the length to which was taken to tell the stories is daunting to some. It almost seems like those two particular books have to have that incredible length just to make them work also.

I can't wait to get to my new trilogy of books by Brian Herbert about House Harkonnen, Atreides, and Corrino. Those are the only three of the dune universe i haven't read. anybody who has only read the first dune book is missing out on a lot if they don't read the rest of the original six by frank, and the ones by his son and Kevin J. Anderson fill out the details that frank left out in some cases.


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aspirit
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Duotrope uses these definitions:
Flash is less than 1,000 words.
Short Story is 1,000 to 7,500 words.
Novelette is 7,500 to 15,000 words.
Novella is 15,000 to 40,000 words.

That would make novel length anything above 40,000 words. Literary agent Nathan Bransford agrees that 40,000 words and above is a novel and that anything just below is a novella. (Source)

Matt, I've always wondered why Hubbard or his editor didn't break Battlefield Earth into two novels or edit more aggressively. I felt two stories where crammed into one package, and struggling with a book that size takes away from enjoyment.


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Matt.Simpson01
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if i remember right, the copy of battlefield earth i have is the one that has all the pages edited out of the first printing of it. so, the one i have read several times is over 1000 pages. i see what you are talking about though. it could have been broken up at the point where johnny destroyed the cyclos.
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posulliv
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I have a large library of 'golden age' science fiction I inherited from my father. Few of the ones I just checked are longer than 200 pages and none are less than 125 pages, unless they're the second part of an Ace reversible (two books in one binding). If they were bigger they would have had to raise the cover price to forty cents.

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tchernabyelo
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Fashions in fiction length change over time (and change within genres). Victorian novels tended to be longer than mainstream novels today. Crime and SF - both of which pretty much owe their roots to the pulps - started out with much shorter works, but SF has lengthened in comparatively recent years, possibly alongside fantasy which (subsequent to Tolkein, of course - again, earlier pulp stuff is different) has tended to concentrate heavily on fat trilogies.


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Robert Nowall
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I think it's come up in discussions before, but I don't remember which, but it doesn't hurt to repeat it...generally, the old paperbacks were of a fixed size and length and the novels and such published in that format were written and / or edited to fit that length. A lot of them were, I think, one hundred and twenty six pages long, and no longer.

I always liked the Ace Double. It's come to seem to me that the short novel may be the ideal form for SF, at least in its less-philosophical and more-adventure-oriented forms.


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