How Long is Too Short…?

The last week or so has been a little slower with regards to the writing of Slipwater, but I’m still moving forward towards that finish line, and that’s the important thing. I now have twenty-six chapters and 75,000 words in the bag, leaving me with probably four chapters and about 12,000 words to complete. At this rate I’ll give myself until late November to have this pass completed – or around Thanksgiving for you guys in the US – but that’s a pretty generous timescale.


One of my concerns about Slipwater has always been its length. At my current projection it will not break 90,000 words, and my thinking was that this would be on the shorter side of things. Of course, that is not the end of my journey. Word count is a fluid thing at this stage, and there is potential for it to move drastically once I go back to the start and beginning locking it all down, although I really don’t foresee that happening.

The acceptable length for a novel is vague and varies with genre and each publisher’s individual tastes. It also depends on who you are. Famous authors will be given a lot more freedom, and will be able to cut below and above these numbers, as they are at least in part, trading on their name and reputation. For guys like me, things are a little more strict.

Traditionally, 40,000 words is considered to be the lower limit for a novel, but it’s hard to see anything as short as that finding publication these days, especially as a debut offering. At the other end of the spectrum, anything approaching 150,000 words will likely see you struggle to find a publisher. And if you happen to write something up around the quarter-million words mark, well… I wish you the very best of luck.

There’s a chance yours may be too long or too short, but in between those outliers is a whole world of space in which most of us reside, and it’s extremely likely that you fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, so you shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about length. As for me, it would appear that Slipwater is right there in the mix, where it needs to be at the moment.

So, does size matter? Sure. But nowhere near as much as you’ve been told.

1 thought on “How Long is Too Short…?

  1. Pingback: Nearing the Climax… | — Purveyor of Imagination —

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