NaNoWriMo Post #13

A lot of people think that a 50,000-word NaNoWriMo novel isn’t really a full novel, by most standards. Some say it’s actually more like a novella, or as I read on one blog (can’t remember which particular blog), an extended outline.

So here are some word count guidelines to help keep you on track…

Short-short stories, flash fiction, vignettes: Up to 1,000 words

Short stories: 1,000 – 6,000 words

Long story, novelette: 6,000 – 15,000 words

Novella: 15,000 – 45,000 words

45,000 – 120,000 words (By these guidelines, a NaNoWriMo novel is a novel! Ha!)

And each genre has its own specific word count range.

Middle grade fiction: 25,000 – 40,000 words

YA fiction: 45,000 – 80,000 words for mainstream; 125,000 words for paranormal

Urban fantasy/paranormal romance: 100,000 words

Mysteries/Crime fiction: 60,000 – 70,000 words

Mainstream/Chick lit: 80,000 – 100,000 words

Literary fiction: 120,000 words

Thrillers: 100,000 – 120,000 words

Historical: 160,000 words (Strange. I thought fantasy novels were longer.)

Sci-fi/fantasy: 100,000 – 120,000 words

The NaNoWriMo novel falls short of all of these except the YA word count (or a very long middle grade novel). But of course, the “right” word count can also depend on the particular publishing house and the length of novels they accept. These numbers above are just averages.

And for famous novels with really epic word counts:

1. The Wheel of Time series (15 books) by Robert Jordan, completed by Brandon Sanderson – 3,430,682 words

2. Remembrance of Things Past / In Search of Lost Time (7 volumes) by Marcel Proust – 1.5 million words (English translation)

3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – 560,000 words (English translation)

4. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – 540,000 words

5. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo – 513,000 words (in the original French)

4 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Post #13

  1. I knew there was a reason I had not yet read War & Peace, Atlas Shrugged, or Les Miserables . . .

    Nice to see that verbosity is not just an American trait. 🙂


    1. I own Atlas Shrugged, but I doubt I’ll get to read it because the font is so tiny… and my brother stole it from my room. I doubt he’ll actually read it either, haha!


  2. It is interesting to see the different word counts. Of course, there are always exceptions. (Some are BIG exceptions!) My first fantasy book is around 121,000, so I am just over the average on that one. But my second one was a nice 110,000 and my third is going to be around that as well. I’ve seen quite a few beastly books floating around on FictionPress. Some people have over enough to make at least 3 or more fantasy sized books. And to think, I sometimes have trouble getting to 110,000! (Though in my last two books, I tend to glaze over things, which probably means adding in a bit more when I go to edit them.)


    1. I always write enormous word counts, then try to trim them down. For me, having more is better than having less, because I find it easier to take away than to add. Your books are a good size for fantasies… I’ve honestly never read Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series – I’ve tried, but they’re just too long for me.


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