How Long Is A Short Story?

A short story is the shortest way of writing prose, however, it is very difficult to know just how long or short a story should be. 

It is difficult to understand how long a story can be before it is not a short story anymore. It is also hard to distinguish the length between a short story, a novella and a novel. 

How Long Is A Short Story?

This article will help you to understand the ideal length of a short story. 

What Is A Short Story?

It is difficult to define whether your story is a short story or just a series of random thoughts. In a short story, the length of the story isn’t the only characteristic that categorizes the story as a short story.

Most short stories will have the length of about 7,500 words, but this isn’t a written rule, it is flexible. 

You can have a short story that is only 2000 words long. Anywhere up to 7,500 words will count as a short story.

How Many Pages Is A Short Story?

Short stories are focussed mainly on word count, rather than on how many pages the story fills up. This is because the page size can vary, and the way that you format your short story will have an effect here. 

Does A Short Story Have Chapters?

A short story doesn’t usually have chapters because it is too short to accommodate them. Often, short stories will have scene breaks or transitions, but they won’t have chapters.

These will be placed in the story to signify a change of setting or scene, or to show that some time has passed. Short stories will display these page breaks in their own ways, and this will be down to how the author chooses to implement them.

How Long Is A Novel?

In order to understand how long a short story should be, and to give some context to the question, we will have a look at thelength of a novel. 

A novel will usually be 50,000 words and above. There are many different length novels, and the fantasy and science fiction novelsare usually the longest ones, sometimes reaching as many as 100,000 words. 

Mystery books tend to only be around 50,000 words long, a shorter novel.

What Is The Difference Between A Short Story And A Novel?

There are a lot of differences between a short story and a novel. While word count is one of the key differences, there are also many other differences between the two that set them apart from one another. 

These differences include: 

  • Fewer characters will be involved in a short story than in a novel. 
  • There will be less character development that will take place in a short story. 
  • There will be less time spent building a world in comparison to the novel. 
  • There will be fewer scenes in a short story, often there will only be one scene. 
  • It will be unlikely that there will be any subplots in a short story. 
How Long Is A Short Story?

What Is A Novella?

A novella is longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel. They are usually about 20,000 to 40,000 words long, but they can be up to 50,000 words. This is where there is some confusion over whether the writing is a novel or a novella. 

Animal Farm by George Orwell is a novella because it is just 30,000 words long. It is common for some genres to have more of these shorter-length novellas because they will sell better at this length. Romance and mystery books are examples of this. 

What Is A Novelette?

A novelette is inbetween a short story and a novella in length. It usually runs from 7,500 words to 17,500. This length can be quite problematic because they are too long to submit to a journal or part of a collection, but they are too short to publish as a printed book. 

When you get stories that are of a novelette length, it is probably best to publish them as an ebook. Often, stories at a length like this are likely to be a part of a series.

What Is Flash Fiction?

Short stories also often come in flashes of short stories. These are divided into flash fiction and micro-fiction. Flash fiction refers to stories that account for up to 1,500 words, but are often under 1000 words.

They just give a short snippet of a story or situation. Micro-fiction refers to a story that is anything up to 500 words long.

How To Market Short Stories?

Short stories often make a mark on you and stay in your mind much longer than popular novels. Short stories are very skilled works of art, as you need to make every single word count towards the world you are trying to create and the character you are describing. 

The best way for you to market your short stories is by trying to get them published in a literary magazine. You won’t be aiming towards getting your work published in your own book, instead having it printed in a magazine. 

If you do this, you will get your name out there for if you later wish to pursue some more traditional publishing, and you will also get paid for it. 

You need to make sure that you are sticking to the word count limits set out by these journals, though, as you want to make sure that your work is not ignored because of things like this. 

Final Thoughts 

Now that you have more of an understanding of the number of words that are required in a short story, you can have a go at writing one of your own!

Bear in mind that, while there are some general rules about the length of a short story, it is flexible depending on your story and how you would like it to be perceived.

The next time someone asks you how long is a short story, you’ll know what to say!

Sophie Andrea