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Can novels be short?

There’s a specific number of words that makes a work of fiction a novel. A novel is considered to be any work of fiction above 40,000 words. Shorter than that (10,000-40,000 words) and it’s considered a novella. Most novels are between 50,000-80,000 words though.

Most novels are between 50,000-80,000 words. J.D. Salinger's well-known novel, 'The Catcher in the Rye' is 73,404 words.
Most novels are between 50,000-80,000 words. J.D. Salinger’s well-known novel, ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is 73,404 words.

The standard expected length of a novel varies from genre to genre. Here are the average word counts for popular genres:

  • Young adult: 55,000 – 70,000
  • Literary: 80,000-120,000
  • Mystery: 75,000 – 100,000
  • Thriller: 90,000 – 100,000
  • Memoir: 80,000 – 90,000
  • Fantasy: 100,000 – 115,000
  • Western: 45,000 – 75,000
  • Romance: 80,000 – 100,000
  • Middle-grade novels: 20,000 – 55,000


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