How Long is a Short Story?

What is the max/min words for a short story?

Depends. If you’re writing it for a magazine, a book compilation or a contest, it’s whatever length the editors tell you it is.

Generally speaking, you should be able to read a short story in one sitting. If it’s fewer than 1,000 words, it’s usually considered a short-short or flash fiction. If it hits 20,000 words, it will probably be called a novella. Anywhere between those two, you get the label short story.

Most often, a short story is between 2,000 to 5,000 words.

Author: LDS Publisher

I am an anonymous blogger who works in the LDS publishing industry. I blog about topics that help authors seeking publication and about published fiction by LDS authors.

3 thoughts on “How Long is a Short Story?”

  1. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) give the following definitions:

    * Short Story: less than 7,500 words;
    * Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words;
    * Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
    * Novel: 40,000 words or more.

    That is for their awards categories. Other organizations/contests will have their own variation. Like LDSP said, it depends.

    Most of the time it doesn't matter. When you submit a story, check the guidelines and include the total word count. The magazine or contest can put it in the correct category from there.

  2. Looks like most of what I am trying to throw out there this month is novelette sized.

    Hands of Fate-10,900 words

    Name of the Game-15,000 words

    Under the Gun-10,000 words

  3. Guidelines always depend upon the publisher. Some are strict while others aren't. I submitted several short stories to Amazon Shorts (an electronic outlet implemented to showcase short stories electronically). Their guidelines for length were 2500 to 12,500 words, I believe. They don't accept submissions now. But when they did they were very lax with those guidelines.


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