What Did I Just Write?

Yesterday, I finally finished a short story I’ve been working on for the past four months or so.  It clocked in at a healthy 15,000 words–much longer than any of the other short stories I’ve written.

And I asked myself, “Does that make this a novella?”  Because, I had no clue.  I was just writing a story.

Turns out, the answer to that question is, “No.”  At least according to the categories used for the Hugos and the Nebulas.  (I figured those were as good a source as any.)

So, in case you were also curious, here you go:

Novel – 40,000 words +

Novella – 17,500 words to 39,999 words

Novelette – 7,500 words to 17,499

Short Story – under 7,500 words

Of course, there’s also flash fiction, which is not defined by either of those.  I generally think of flash as under 1,000 words, but I don’t think that definition is universal.

And I don’t think these categories are universal.  But they’re a good start.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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4 Responses to What Did I Just Write?

  1. Dave Higgins says:

    I have never heard of a novelette; I think last time I looked the boundaries was a fuzzy line between short story and novella.

    • mhleewriter says:

      I don’t really hear folks talk about novelettes much either, but I definitely didn’t make it up. Both the Hugo and Nebula have a novelette category.

      Here are the links:
      Nebulas (see item 5)

      Hugos (see The Categories)

      • Dave Higgins says:

        I did not think you did.

        I wonder if it is there to make prize giving easier rather than to represent a definite type of book, or is there a special magic to fitting a story into that word-count that is not clear to begin with?

      • mhleewriter says:

        Good question. I don’t know.

        I have to say that I definitely saw a difference between the story I just wrote (15,000 words) and the other “serious” stories I’d written (5-6,000 words). Of course, I also see a difference between my stories below the 2,500 to 3,000 word mark and the ones in the 5-6,000 word range.

        I imagine there’s probably another break somewhere in there if I were to try to write something even longer than the last one.

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