How Important Is Story Length?

story length

When it comes to fiction writing, a question I’m often asked by writers relates to story length.

“Is it OK if I’m over (or under a required story length) by ‘X’ amount of words?”

Writing isn’t an exact science, so I always say the answer is yes – as long as it’s a reasonable amount of words!

So what’s a reasonable amount in relation to “Friend” fiction? I’d suggest approximately 200 words either way. That would give our Production team enough room to edit for publication.

This brings me on to story length itself.

For example, how do you know if your story will be best suited to 2000 or 3000 words? In a word – practise.

The more you write, the more you’ll naturally edit in your mind, seeing what works on the page and making sure your word count doesn’t get out of hand.

Write First, Cut Later

What happens if you are way off the mark in terms of story length?

I would suggest that you don’t panic. Again, trust in your inner editor, and cut the story to fit as closely as you can manage to the required word count. We’ll do the rest.

Before that final cut, I wouldn’t put a filter on your writing. Simply write the story as it streams from your imagination.

I remember one story I wrote was over by 2000 words. I didn’t bat an eye, though – I merely put on my editing hat and proceeded to cut out the superfluous scenes. Of which there were plenty, I hasten to add!

It’s tough cutting your own work, but it can also be rewarding, too. And through the process, you’ll find that you hone important elements of your story, like characterisation, plot and dialogue.

You can finds more tips in our Writing Tools section.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.