imagesI know I am not alone when it comes to counting every single word that you put on paper for your horror novel (or any novel, for that matter). Authors often times have a tendency to have certain expectations for exactly how long they think their novel should be. But is the word count really all that important? The answer: Kind of.

The average “book” word count that I have seen goes something like this:

  • 1 – 15,000 : Story
  • 15,001 – 39,999 : Novella
  • 40,000 – 200,000 : Novel
  • 200,000 or more : Well, somebody certainly has time to write!

And even these numbers are JUST MY OPINION. (And I think it is important to note here that I am not an agent, so…..)

images-1Every agent will ask for different things and, in my experience, it is always better to have more than to have less. But this doesn’t mean you have to follow that guideline. Realistically, it all depends on what you plan to do with your writing. If you’re looking to put your horror up on a forum or fiction site (like NoSleep, or even this site!) it would probably be best to keep it short and sweet. If you’re looking to get into a lit-mag, maybe a bit longer. However, if it’s major publication (beyond self-pubbing) that you want, you may need a minimum of 80,000 words to get your work off the ground – or at least the attention of an agent. says this about the horror genre word count and I think it sums up that last idea pretty well:

“A writer must be as ruthless with their words, as their antagonist is with the lives within the story. For if a grip on the reader is lost by overly long descriptions and digressions, the very tension which drives this genre fizzles out. Never go beyond the 100k limit without first checking with a freelance editor for revisions.” 

I’d say that sums it up pretty well.

However, if you’re just writing because, like many of us, you simply have to write, then throw the word count aside and just enjoy putting words on paper. That’s why we all started writing in the first place – that, and to scare the daylights out of people!

Article by M.J. Orz