Just Right: How Long Should a Novel Be?

How long should a novel be?

Like, in your opinion, what would be the word count of a not-too-short-but-not-too-long novel be? The Goldilocks length, if you will.

I ask because I’m working on The Wind and the Horizon right now and, when I was trying to figure out where in my outline to end book two, I realized I didn’t actually know the final word count of The Star and the Ocean. I had also noticed a few users on Wattpad steamrolling through the story in a single sitting, which on one hand was cool but on the other raised questions about its length. So, I looked into it, and…

It was only 67k.

Now, according to the folks at NaNoWriMo, 50k is considered to be a respectable length for a short novel.

But think about this for a moment: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is nearly 77k and it’s the shortest of the series (not that I’m trying to write my own Goblet of Fire-length epic or anything).

I supposed to a certain point it’s all subjective: one person might think HP1 is a fairly brief read while another could consider it an ideal length. The same could then be said for a novel of 67k words.

Personally, I expected TSATO to be longer. I’d like for it to be at least as long as HP1, which means I’ll have some serious beefing up to do when I get around to revising the next draft. I left a lot of ideas out when I was writing with my Wattpad audience in mind (by in large they don’t really have the patience for backstory and exposition) and now I have regrets.

This is probably a good time to mention, if you’ve read The Star and the Ocean already I would love to know if there are any sections or plot points you think should be expanded. Thanks to the people who saw me whining about this on Twitter earlier this week and have already passed on some solid suggestions!

Whether you’ve read TSATO or not, I’d still like to know what you think the ideal length of a novel should be!

One thought on “Just Right: How Long Should a Novel Be?

  1. Kat says:

    For me, it usually depends on genre. I would expect science-fiction and fantasy to be considerably longer than other genres — though, having said that, I just finished reading Annihilation, which was science-fiction, and was roughly around the 50K mark; while I think more could be added to it, it held quite well for that length.


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