As a Writer, How Do You Measure the Length of a Novel?

I’ve been writing novel-length stories for well over ten years now, and during that time from reading articles in “Writer’s Digest” magazine to now trolling through blogs, it seems that the discussions on “novel lengths” has changed dramatically. But as authors we tend to see “novel length” in various lights. There’s

  • Wordcount Length
  • Page Length
  • Amount of Time Passing in the Novel
  •  How Long It Took to Write

And other general fun parameters like that.

I’ve been thinking about this particularly since finishing the preliminary edits on CROSS//Rebirth. When the first draft was finally completely finished, it was about 360k. Since then, with the preliminary edits, I’ve chopped it down to about 340k. (Easy math!) Surprisingly, that wasn’t mostly scene cuts. (Yes, scenes got cut, but that’s not the point!) Most of that was from simply tightening up the writing, getting rid of obvious redundancies, and rewriting sentences/paragraphs that eventually wound up shorter than before. It’s amazing how all of that adds up to 20k. That’s a short novella right there! But for me a a novel over 250k is completely normal. Fantasy series and all that.

Which is probably why it seems like it takes me so much longer to write my novels than some other people.  This novel, just in first draft form, took me three years to finish. Three years to write 360k that covers about…a month? Maybe a little over. That’s an intense month!

When I define the lengths of my novel, I tend to go by word count. A word count very…normal for me. But I also think about the length of time I put into them.

How about you? How do you define the length of your novel? What’s a “normal” novel length for you in any of the above categories? Could you imagine ever writing a 350k novel??!?!?! (if you don’t already, of course!)

Sigh. And I’m in the process of writing two more drafts of the same length. This is why I have to be so diligent in writing so much every day!