Sunday, December 5, 2010

Is A Long One Better Than A Short One?

T'aint Necessarily so.  As most females can testify.


How long your piece of writing is (what did you think I was talking about?!) depends on what you're writing.

We've all read a book that was meant to be a short story, but somebody put it on the rack and stretched it (and us) out to torturous novel-length.  We've also read short stories that were meant to be book-length.  So, if you want to be a good writer, pay attention to the needs of your material.

Sometimes you need to identify what it is you're writing, and sometimes, you need to identify what you've already written.  Either way, the chart below may be a helpful guide.

How Long is A...
Average Words

Approximate number
Double-spaced
Typewritten Pages
Short-short story
500-2000
2-8
Short story
2500-5000
10-20
Novelette
7000-15,000
28-60
Novel - hard cover
25,000-150,000
100-600
Novel - paperback
35,000-80,000
140-320
Children’s picture book
500-1000
Juvenile book
15,000-80,000
60-320
Nonfiction book
20,000-200,000
80-800
TV Script - ½ hour
25-40
TV script - 1 hour
55-70
Play: one act
20-30 min
20-30
Play: three act
1-1 ½ hrs.
90-120
Movie scenario
1-1 ½ hrs.
120-250
Radio feature copy
1 min. + 15 double-spaced lines
3 min. = 2 pp
Poem
2-100 lines (most magazines prefer 4-16 lines)
Query letter
1 full page, single-spaced
Speech
250 words = 2 min.
12-15 pp = ½ hr/


Image via http://www.galleryone.com/

I would love to give credit where credit is due.  However, I got this from a mentor many, many moons ago, who had no idea where she originally got it.  (You'll notice it doesn't list blogs on it, so that alone tells you how ancient it is.) 

For now, I'm considering it stolen so many times it's gotta be public domain - but if it is your baby, and you want credit, please let me know.


What's your favorite piece length?  Are you a poet, an essayist, a novelist?
Have you ever tried to stretch your talents and write something of a different length?
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