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Is My Novel Too Short?

On Saturday Daniel and my mom entertained the kids all day so that I could work on my novel. I’ve been really needing a big chunk of time to wrap up this draft, so I wrote from 9:30 to 5:30. Well, actually, I wrote from 9:30 to about 1:30, and then I read it through, and I was feeling pretty good about it. It’s really close. Really. I just want to fix up a few more little things. At least, that’s what I thought.

Then I did something I shouldn’t have. I checked the word count. When I started this round of revisions I had a very respectable, if low, 75,000 words. I’m a concise writer. I know this. I’m okay with it. But now, according to my word count I’m at 65,000 words.

Everything I’ve read is that you don’t really want to be below 70,000 for a novel. So now I’m all freaked out. Is my novel too short? I know there are always exceptions to the rule, but I also know better than to assume I’m the exception just because my novel comes up a little short.

But it’s not THAT short. 5,000 words is what – 20 pages? Is that really such a big deal? when I think of it from the perspective of an agent, I would think they’d be much more inclined to read something that comes in a little short than something that comes in a little long (at say 150,000 words). Basic economics of time.

What matters is that it’s good, right?

Or should I spend the time to work another 5-10,000 words back into the thing?

I don’t know. I’m thinking I’ll just polish it up as if I hadn’t done that stupid word count, then send it out to my friends/writing group and ask them if they feel like any sections are too brief. Maybe there are places that need elaboration that I’m just not seeing.

I think I have officially hit that place I’ve heard writers talk about where they JUST WANT TO BE DONE WITH THE DAMN THING.


  1. Kelly
    Mar 18, 2013

    Use as many words as it takes to tell your story. In other words, don’t stress :)

    Let me know if you need a fresh set of eyes since you we’re always willing to read one of my drafts!

  2. Mari
    Apr 1, 2013

    I’ve found stories are as long or as short as they’re meant to be. It also depends on the writing you’re writing for – if you “write to market”. Genre and age group play a role, too. With digital media, a lot of that is changing, though.

    • April
      Apr 1, 2013

      Writing to market sounds so commercial. I don’t feel like I’m writing to a market, but I do want to go the traditional publishing route, so I feel like I need to have a product (because ultimately that’s how agents and publishers have to look at a manuscript) that fits what traditional publishing needs. I’m struggling with it. Thanks for your comment.


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