11 Different Types of Word Counts in Fiction!

Have you ever wondered how many words you need to write a novel?

I mean, sure, during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) we hear a lot about the elusive 50,000-word count.

But is that how many words a story needs to be considered a “real” novel?

What is it called when you write fewer words than 50,000?

What the frick is a drabble?

And what’s the difference between all these word counts and terms?

To start, the biggest difference between the types of fiction I listed is word count (which can sometimes differ based on who you ask).

And you’ll notice when writing anything smaller than a novel is you have fewer and fewer words with which to create a story, world, and characters.

With each level of word count, you have to focus your story more on less.

Masterclass.com has an article on the differences between novelettes, novellas, and novels that I’d suggest giving a read.

They touch a bit on the differences between writing longer or shorter works, and what goes into each style of writing.

Focusing on things like worldbuilding, subplots, and pacing are important to keep in mind.

Especially, when trying to fit a shorter story’s constrained word count, or you’re forced to expand on a larger word count if you’re more of a short story writer.

Plus, it’s not just about if a novel is this word count, or a drabble is that word count.

Genre is also a deciding factor in how many words a story generally needs.

For example, an adult high-fantasy story is most likely going to have a higher word count than a middle school contemporary.

Because you’re building a new world with new rules from the ground up. Obviously, you’ll need more words to accomplish such a feat.

These Wikipedia and MasterClass articles talk a bit about how different story-telling genres are gonna have different word counts.

Again, I highly suggest giving them a read.

So by now, I can guess what you’re thinking.

“This all seems very arbitrary. I just wanna write stuff!”

And you wouldn’t be wrong!

You don’t have to follow these word counts and say you have a novella or a drabble or whatever.

These aren’t the end all be all of how to write a story, they’re just another way to understand how to tell them.

Writing a 100,000+ word novel is gonna be very different than writing a 100-word drabble.

It’s a fun challenge to see if you can write something just as complex and compelling in fewer words.

At the very least, understanding these concepts will help broaden your creative writing knowledge.

And hey! if you’re looking for an excuse to write certain ways, here’s a post I did last month on writing challenges happening throughout the year!

Because believe it or not, there are actually more writing challenges than NaNoWriMo.

Give it a read, and find a challenge that interests you.

And as always:

Thanks for reading, and happy writing!

1. Novel

Word Count:

80,000 words and up (BecomeAWriterToday.com)

40,000 words or more, but typically between 80,000 words – 100,000 words (MasterClass.com)

40,000 words or more (Wikipedia.com)

2. Novella

Word Count:

20,000 words – 50,000 words (BecomeAWriterToday.com)

10,000 words – 40,000 words (MasterClass.com)

17,500 words – 39,999 words (Wikipedia.com)

3. Novelette

Word Count:

7,500 words – 19,000 words (MasterClass.com)

7,500 words – 17,000 words (MasterClass.com)

7,500 words – 17,499 words (Wikipedia.com)

4. Short Story

Word Count:

1,000 words – 7,500 words (MasterClass.com)

5,000 words to 10,000 words, but more than 1,000 words. (MasterClass.com)

7,500 words or less (Wikipedia.com)

5. Flash Fiction

Word Count:

1,000 words or less (BecomeAWriterToday.com)

500 words or less. (MasterClass.com)

1,000 words or less (Wikipedia.com)

500 words or less (StoryTellingCollective.com)

6. Pentradrabble

Word Count:

Exactly 500 words (WritersDigest.com)

7. Trabble

Word Count:

Exactly 300 words (WritersDigest.com)

8. Double Drabble

Word Count:

Exactly 200 words (WritersDigest.com)

9. Drabble

Word Count:

Exactly 100 words (WritersDigest.com)
[NOTE: “The term drabble is used more loosely now than it has been in the past; for many writers, it means a very short story, regardless of length, or a story that they’ve written very quickly and don’t take seriously.”]

Exactly 100 words (Wikipedia.com)

10. Dribble

Word Count:

Exactly 55 words (WritersDigest.com)

Exactly 50 words (Wikipedia.com)

11. Six-Word Story

Word Count:

6 words

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