Lesson 4 of 12

How Many Words Should I Write?

There is no simple answer to this. Most published contemporary novels are anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 long. For some genres, like epic fantasy, 120k+ is not unusual. A lot of contemporary literary fiction can be very short, around 50k.

For the purposes of most literary prizes, 40,000 or more is sufficient to call the work a novel. Remember that there is no “official” word count per story-type or genre - just averages which can act as useful benchmarks.

Here’s a quick reference guide:

Epic (or Sage)

110,000 or more


40,000  or more


17,500 to 39,999


7,500 to 17,499

Short Story

under 7,500

The average adult novel is typically around 73,000 words.