Story Formats
3 min read

How long should your novella be?

A character reading a novella.

A novella is a work of fiction that is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. Finding the appropriate length for your novella is crucial to maintain reader interest and provide a satisfying storytelling experience. In this blog post, we'll provide guidance on determining the ideal length for your novella and ensuring that it is well-paced and impactful.

Understanding the novella format

Definition and characteristics of a novella

A novella is a narrative work of fiction shorter than a novel but longer than a short story.


  • Length and word count: 20,000 to 40,000 words
  • The balance between the complexity of a novel and the brevity of a shorter story

Advantages of writing a novella

Novellas offer several advantages, including:

  • Versatility in storytelling
  • Ideal for character-driven narratives
  • Opportunities for publication and reader interest

General guidelines for novella length

Typical word count range

Novellas typically range from 20,000 to 40,000 words, varying depending on genre and other factors.

  • Minimum and maximum word counts: Generally, a novella should be at least 20,000 and no more than 40,000 words.
  • Common industry standards and expectations: Most novellas fall within the 25,000 to 35,000-word range.

Factors influencing novella length

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

  • Genre-specific considerations: Some genres may have longer novellas, while others may be shorter.
  • Target audience and reader preferences: Consider the expectations of your target readership and tailor your novella'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 novella

Assessing the scope of your story

Consider the following factors when determining your novella'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 novella 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 novella

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 ideal length for your novella requires you to consider the scope of your story, balance pacing and depth, and edit and revise your work. Feel free to experiment with the length to find the best fit for your story. The ultimate goal is to craft a well-paced and impactful novella 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 novella that captivates and delights your audience.