Saturday, January 9, 2010

Novella, Novel, Epic? What is the difference?

Have you ever been confused by all the names for a "book"? Here is a general guideline for deciding what it is you have written. Remember there are always exceptions to every rule. I pulled this from an online article titled The Most Confusing Fiction Writing Terminology. The second half of the article is also very good so check it out.
  • A short story covers a wide range, from 1,000 to 7,500 words.
  • A novelette takes the next step by containing a word count of 7,500 to 15,000.
  • A Novella is longer and has between 15,000 and 40,000 words.
  • A regular fiction or genre novel is about 80,000 words, with the range between 50,000 and 110,000 words. (Genre is the type of work, such as science fiction or mystery.)
  • Literary fiction typically carries a deeper message than regular fiction. It has a range between 60,000 and 150,000 words.
  • Fantasy fiction is usually closer to the 150,000 to 200,000 word count. Fantasy fiction uses a lot of mythology and magic-type settings and characters.
  • Young adult books fall into the same category as regular fiction at about 80,000 word count average. (I heard it defined as around 50K words and the MC's are always kids or young adults. J K Rowling and Stephenie Meyer threw the word count rule out the window, so maybe that is why this has a higher word count.)
  • Epics and sequels usually contain around 110,000 words or more. If your writing finds your word count at 200,000 or more and you're not even close to finishing your manuscript, seriously consider breaking it into a sequel a trilogy, or a series.
  • A Drabble is a story that contains exactly 100 words. A drabble is often used in a contest and limits the writer to a particular theme with a deadline for submission. The title may contain no more than 15 words. Many websites offer contests for works of drabble. (I had never heard of this one before. There is a website that posts a new "flash fiction" story every day. Flash fiction is a self contained story of under 600 words [for this site anyway]. Check it out at 365 Tomorrows.)
Here is another great glossary of fiction writing terms--McGraw Hill Online Learning Center

1 comment:

  1. I thought an epic was a verrrry, long poem (I'm planning to write one in May).

    I've never heard of that definition for a drabble either. I've always seen it as a small story connected to your novel that isn't part of your novel.

    Interesting to learn new meanings.


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