Writerly Post Wednesday: Novel Length

WPW

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To start off this post, here are some word counts of common, popular novels.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: (MG/YA)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone — 76,944 words
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — 85,141 words
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — 107,253 words
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — 190,637 words
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — 257,045 words
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince — 168,923 words
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Around 198,227 words

Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer: (YA)

Twilight — 118,501 words
New Moon — 132,807 words
Eclipse — 147,930 words
Breaking Dawn — 192,196 words

Novels by Marissa Meyer: (YA)

Cinder — 87,661 words
Scarlet — (Couldn’t find anywhere!)
Cress — Around 139,076 words

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: (YA)

The Hunger Games — 76,800 words
Catching Fire — Approximately 80,000 words
Mockingjay — 100,269 words

The Divergent series by Veronica Roth: (YA)

Divergent — 105,000 words
Insurgent — 106,267 words
Allegiant — 110,354 words

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A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin: (Adult)

A Game of Thrones — 284k
A Clash of kings — 326k
A Storm of Swords — 404k
A Feast for Crows — 300k
A Dance with Dragons — 422k

Novels by Sarah J. Maas: (YA)

Throne of Glass — 100,000 words, approx.
(Not sure about CoM or HoF.)

Novels by John Green: (YA)

Looking For Alaska — 64,033 words
The Fault In Our Stars — 65,752 words

Novels by Kiera Cass: (YA)

The Selection — 80,248 words
The Elite — 80,750 words
(Unsure of The One, however they are of a similar size, I would say it’s about 80k.)

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So there you go; that might give you an idea about how long novels are.

And as you can see . . . They vary quite a bit. So here is what I am asking you today: Does word count often matter to you, as a reader? Or even a writer, considering this is a Writerly Post Wednesday blog post. The longest novel that I have ever written is the first draft of The Empire of Stars, which finished at 90,069 words. When you think about it — that’s a pretty big novel, though not quite as big as some of the word counts listed above. As I’m working out some of the kinks in the plot, I honestly can’t say whether the second draft is going to be shorter or longer than the first. Only time — and editing — will tell.

The above list might provide a handy guide for people who are curious about novel lengths. I know I’ll be taking a second look at that list.

The genre of a novel often determines how long the story will be.

This is not always the case — of course there was exceptions — but more often than not you’re probably going to find that contemporary novels will be shorter than high fantasy novels.

Do long novels — such as A Game of Thrones-sized books, for example — put you off?

I know that I was. I saw the length of the novel (worse, I bought the set box, and altogether that’s a lot of words) and was hesitant. After all, I didn’t want to waste my time by reading a massively long novel that I might not even enjoy. (But I gave it a go and loved it.) But internally, I kind of cringe when I see a five-hundred plus paged novel. Who doesn’t?

I want to hear your thoughts on word counts. What’s the longest novel you’ve read and would be willing to read? Also, if you’re a writer: How long are your novels?

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18 thoughts on “Writerly Post Wednesday: Novel Length

  1. Before blogging, I liked bigger books, I felt I was getting more bang for my buck, if you will. Now, big books, say 600 pages plus scare me, because they take longer to read, so I can’t review as often or read as many books that are crowding up my TBR pile and threatening to fall down on me. That being said, I still like to shake it up a little, and sometimes crave a longer read, in a world I can get lost in. Shorter reads are generally a little more tempting, especially to introduce me to an author. But if I can get hooked within the first few chapters, or I’ve seen good reviews I don’t care about length. It all depends on the storyline, my mood and the context. However, GOT books intimidate me no matter what. There are big books, and then there’s Game of Thrones!!

    • Haha, I don’t think I’ve ever seen books that are bigger than the Game of Thrones one. xD But seriously they are well worth the read. It took me some time to get through them all…but it was worth it. :) I like a mixture of big and small, to be honest. Whenever I read a short high/epic fantasy, I kinda feel cheated, because I’m just so used to massive word counts in that genre.

  2. OH MY GOSH GAME OF THRONES BOOKS ARE SO MASSIVE. I didn’t even realise O_O and I knew John Green novels were pretty short, which explained why I could read them so quickly, lol. It’s interesting how many series go up in word count once the books find an audience and publishers can take a chance on bigger books. I do quite like smallish books, but really if it’s written well I don’t care how long it is.

    …I mean, within reason :P

  3. Oh man. The longest book Ive read would have to be either Cress (560 pages I believe) or Clockwork Princess (over 500, I think). I don’t really read “long” novels, as you can see. Nor do I write them. My longest novel is my zombie novel, which is 78,000 words I think. It’s not edited so I think it’ll end up longer, but yeah. My longest novel isn’t as long as yours xD Yes, novel size puts me off. I stay within the 300-400 range.

  4. I like long books. I am a lover of epic/high fantasy and the word counts are pretty big for those so I just got use to long books. Though sometimes it’s nice to read a short book for the sheer satisfaction of reading it fast, because the long books do take up a lot of time. One of the longest I have read was City of Heavenly Fire which was 700 plus pages.

  5. Size doesn’t really matter to me. Generally, the books I read are average length. Before blogging, I didn’t really care about the lengths of my books. Reading big ones for me was not daunting. I actually felt prideful when I said I read a big book. Now, I feel more pressure to read shorter books, but that is probably because I’m still trying to ween out of my hiatus for over a year.

  6. I just finished the first draft of an MG sci-fi novel, and it’s about 51k. That’s really short compared to the word counts on this list, but then again, it’s MG, so it’s going to be shorter. Also, I might beef it up a bit during the revising and editing process. I don’t really mind if a book is too long, but I don’t really like books that are too short. I’m not even sure why. Really thin books kind of ward me off.

  7. It took me about a month to read the first Game of Thrones, so yeah, they put me off a little. I think the biggest book I’ve read was The Divine Comedy? I’m not sure how many pages that was, I think around 900 or so, at least in my edition. It just takes a really long time to get through them and that’s daunting. Although high fantasy does require it, because you need that world-building. I recently wrote a book during Camp NaNo, and it’s finished now – 55,000 words.

  8. Length usually doesn’t matter to me — there are some long books that I didn’t want to end! If it is written well, I can fly through it just as quickly as a poorly done shorter book.

  9. I’m not a huge fan of big books. I just think: are all those words REALLY necessary? Especially since I predominantly read YA, where the books are generally shorter than adult fiction novels of the same genre.

    I’m not sure about the biggest book I’ve ever read, but I recently read Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas and it was pretty big. The page count was over 500 and the font was TINY, so I’m guessing it was quite hefty in the word count department. I was a tiny bit hesitant but then it flew by so quickly, I was actually kind of amazed.

    Even so, I generally like books that are between 300-350 pages (which is different to word count, but I think that’s about average length). If it’s more than that, I’m not going to be all: NO I SHALL NEVER READ THIS. But if it’s really large, there will be some questioning on my behalf.

    I finally finished my first novel this year (after starting SO MANY over the years), and it completed at 56,000. It’s YA contemporary, which are usually 50 – 90,000 words, so I’m definitely within the threshold. However, my current WIP is probably going to be more around the 60,000 mark.

    I try not to worry about word count because you can shave off words if it’s too long, and I think there is always a scene or two that can be added if the book is under word count. So I just keep a general eye on things to make sure I’m not speeding through the plot :D

  10. As a reader, I don’t care at all about word counts. Some of my favourite books are 700+ pages, and it just gives me more time to be immersed in the storyline and the characters. As a writer, it’s really the same thing – as long as I can tell my story, who cares how many words it’s in? ;)

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