Story Formats
5 min read

How long should your novel be?

A person reading a novel.

A novel is a work of lengthy fiction, typically over 40,000 words, that allows for complex storytelling and character development. Finding the correct length for your novel is crucial in creating an engaging, well-paced story that resonates with readers. This blog post guides you in determining the ideal length for your novel, ensuring your work is concise and impactful.

Understanding the novel format

Definition and characteristics of a novel

A novel is a long-form narrative that tells a story through an interconnected series of events, often involving multiple characters and settings.


  • Length and word count: 40,000+ words
  • The balance between the complexity of a novel and the brevity of a shorter story

Advantages of writing a novel

Novels offer several advantages, including:

  • Opportunity for immersive storytelling
  • Exploration of multiple themes and subplots
  • Opportunities for publication and reader interest

General guidelines for novel length

Typical word count range

Novels typically range from 40,000 to 120,000 words, depending on genre and other factors.

  • Minimum and maximum word counts: Generally, a novel should be at least 40,000 words, with no strict maximum limit.
  • Common industry standards and expectations: Most novels fall within the 80,000 to 100,000-word range, considered the "sweet spot" for publishers.

Factors influencing novel length

Several factors can influence the ideal length for your novel, including:

  • Genre-specific considerations: Some genres, such as science fiction and fantasy, tend to have longer novels, while others, like romance, may be shorter.
  • Target audience and reader preferences: Consider the expectations of your target readership and tailor your novel's length accordingly.
  • Publishing goals and submission guidelines: Research publisher and agent guidelines, as they may have specific word count preferences.

Determining the ideal length for your novel

Assessing the scope of your story

Consider the following factors when determining your novel's ideal length:

  • Number of characters and their development
  • Depth and complexity of the plot
  • World-building and setting

Balancing pacing and depth

Ensure your novel is engaging and well-paced by:

  • Maintaining reader engagement through pacing
  • Providing sufficient depth for character and plot development
  • Avoiding unnecessary details or overly complex subplots

Editing and revising your work

Once your draft is complete, refine your story by:

  • Trimming excess content and honing your narrative
  • Ensuring your story remains concise and impactful
  • Seeking feedback from others to improve your work

Tips for writing an effective novel

Starting with a strong hook

Capture your reader's attention from the outset by:

  • Engaging readers from the beginning
  • Establishing the tone, setting, and characters quickly

Focusing on a single narrative arc

Keep your story focused and coherent by:

  • Prioritizing the main storyline
  • Avoiding unnecessary subplots or distractions

Crafting a satisfying ending

Leave a lasting impression on your readers by:

  • Resolving the central conflict or theme
  • Leaving a lasting impact on the reader

Determining the appropriate length for your novel involves considering the scope of your story, balancing pacing and depth, and editing and revising your work. Don't be afraid to experiment with length to find the best fit for your story. Ultimately, your goal is to craft a well-paced, impactful novel that resonates with readers. By keeping these factors in mind and continually refining your work, you'll be well on your way to creating a novel that captivates and delights your audience.