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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » How Long is a "Short Story"?

   
Author Topic: How Long is a "Short Story"?
elilyn
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How long or short is typical for a short story? I have an idea for one, but just want an idea of what to shoot for so I can flesh out the story-line a bit more.
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genevive42
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Without looking up one of the charts that can be found around the web, I'll say this:

Up to 1000 words - Flash Fiction
1000-5000 words - Definitely a short story and will fit in almost any short story market.
But technically, 1000-7500 words is considered a short story.
At 8000+ words you're in novelette territory


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EricJamesStone
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For the Hugo and Nebula Awards, the following word counts apply:
Short Story: up to 7499 words
Novelette: 7500 to 17,499 words
Novella: 17,500 to 39,999
Novel: 40,000 to infinity and beyond

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djvdakota
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Depends on your market, which means you should know your intended markets' submission guidelines.

But I'll agree with Genevieve--5000 words is imminently more sale-able than 7500 or 10,000, simply because the number of markets that will accept your story decreases exponentially as your word count rises.


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Utahute72
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Wow, Eric is old school, I'd thought I was the only one that would get a 2001 reference.
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Grayson Morris
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Uh, wait - that wasn't a Toy Story reference?
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tchernabyelo
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There should be as many words in your story as there need to be to tell the story you want to tell.
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Grayson Morris
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Tchern is absolutely right. That said: I once wrote a 25K-word story that alpha readers helped me cut to 2.5K. That, as it turns out, was too short as told: I need either to rewrite or add to it. But my point here is that, when I wrote the 25K, I thought every single word was necessary. Turns out they weren't.

I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to write a story within a certain word count. I think every story can be told many ways, some longer, some shorter, each with its own unique power and grace.


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elilyn
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Thanks for your insight. I just wanted an idea so I could pace myself when writing. Seems like you all know your stuff.
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Smiley
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A friend of mine told me, 'When you write a story, start at the beginning and when you get to the end - stop.' I've always found that to be helpful.
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