Hi gang, Craig with you again today. I’ve been pondering word counts lately. There are multiple reasons, both personally and from a marketing standpoint.
On a personal basis, I tend to write short. This stems from my professional background where concise is important. I have more room in fiction, and I’m slowly getting there. Part of me worries that my ideas just aren’t big enough to fill a massive Sci-fi or fantasy tale of 120K words. I’ve written them before, so I know I can.
I’ve also written one sheet micro-fiction and really enjoy that. Some of my best selling books were collections of shorts and micros. You can understand how this result might influence my marketing.
Now I’m writing a trilogy and these thoughts have popped up again, swinging the pendulum back the other direction.
Years ago, I did a bit of research into word counts and the results were maddening. No source had the same answers for anything. I did some averaging, put the results through the shrunken-head wash, then made my own chart. (Argue all you want, but it’s a place to start.)
• Micro Fiction = under 1500 words
• Short Story = 1500 – 30,000 words
• Novella = 30,000 – 50,000 words
• Novels = 80,000 and over
You may have noticed something important.
There is a huge hole between 50,000 words and 80,000. Big publishing tried to kill off the short forms, but the Internet, and even Amazon, brought them back with a vengeance.
There used to be a category called short novels, and this got me to thinking. As a generation, what direction are we headed?
Our attention spans are shorter. Magazine length articles have lost their appeal to the Internet. We had a discussion at Story Empire about blog posts that are too long. Most of us admitted to skimming lengthy posts. Some of us dislike watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts, because of the time involved.
I turned this conversation to our own work, and it appears that none of us are against long books, even lengthy series, but we all appreciate short chapters. This is because of the time constraints placed upon our lives. We aren’t above a dozen quick chapters, but we like to have that option, just in case Little Timmy set the curtains on fire again, etc.
Lengthy projects are perfectly acceptable, but you must have short chapters, or even a good section break to respect the readers’ time.
We have shorter attention spans these days. We want the scoop, without a lot of fluff. Even the nightly news struggles with this. Maybe it’s all caused by Twitter, or jobs that expect us to jump whenever they call, children, pets, etc. Doesn’t really matter, but that’s who we’ve become. As authors, we have to adapt to this.
So what about THE BIG VOID? I think we’re headed there. I believe readers will accept novels of 60K or even less now. (They need a name of some kind. I propose Noveloids.) People enjoy a good story, but they dole their time out sparingly.
Let’s take this to the comments section. What do you think? Are shorter chapters preferable today? Is there room out there for noveloids? (™️ Craig Boyack. License available in exchange for beer.) Is this post too long? Did you skim?