Counting Your Words

Writing can come in many different forms; novels, novellas, short stories, poetry, flash fiction, nonfiction, children stories, or articles. It all has to be written to be read. 

I personally am a novel writer; I like big stories with backgrounds and lots of words. On occasion, I like to practice with flash fiction. I find it helps me tighten up my writing and getting the story across in a matter of fewer words.

How do you know what category your writing falls under?

Word counts.

It all boils down to the amount of words used in your precious blood, sweat and tears. There are guidelines that determine what constitutes as a novel verses a novella, or flash fiction versus a short story. Even in poetry, there are certain types of poems that require certain counts – a number of syllables, a number of lines in a stanza. In all of these words, numbers matter.

It can be a bit overwhelming if you are new to the writing circus. Hell, it can be overwhelming no matter how long you’ve been honing your writing tricks. Making sure that your manuscript fits into the right sized word box can be difficult, no matter how long you have been writing.

Let’s take a look at the breakdown…

Novel: 50,000 words and higher – Depending on the genre that you are writing in will greatly determine the word length.

Novella: 15,000- 50,000 – Your story can be written under any given genre, but at this length, it will be considered a novella or novelette.

Short Stories: 1,000 to 10,000 – When submitting to contest, there will usually be a word count listed.

Flash Fiction: 100 to 500 – This seems small, because it is. Flash Fiction is considered such because it is just a flash of a story.

Picture Books: 500 to 700.

Once the breakdown is written down in front of you, it isn’t quite as daunting. It even seems manageable. Some days. What I believe really matters at the end of the day is… do your words count?

Not in the idea of numbers. Who cares if you can’t fit your piece inside the box? Just write what flows out of you and worry about the little stuff, like word counting, for a later date. If what you are writing means something to you, then that is what you should concentrate on. That is what actually counts.

Till next time,


P.s. Check back at a later date for the breakdown of genre word guidelines for novels.

3 responses to “Counting Your Words

  1. Great article AJ! It’s good to have the full breakdown.

  2. On tax day, it’s all about the numbers — Ha! But your main point, in the last paragraph, sums it up nicely — “Who cares if you can’t fit your piece inside the box.”

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