How Many Pages Should a Novel Be?

Screenshot 2016-04-23 09.19.09
While I was editing this morning I popped up my stats and it made me think of my writing groups.
I often see questions about how many pages should a novel be? How many pages should a chapter be? How many words? Etc.
The thing is… it doesn’t matter. There is no absolute rule.
How many pages should a novel be?
The number of pages will vary depending on formatting. My novel, for example, is 351 pages when formatted for publishing but only 176 when on a full 8.5×11 page setup. Page numbers do not matter, word count does.
Well, then, how many words should a novel be?
Depends. On your genre, on your audience, on the age group you’re writing for. The general rule is novels should be at LEAST 70K (a safe zone for most genres). But if you’re writing in fantasy or sci-fi the bottom line is 90K and if you’re writing for YA it can be 60K or even lower. So, know your genre. A good rule of thumb is to look for a publisher who publishes books like what you plan to write, look at their submission guidelines and use their minimum word count as your goal.
But… how many pages should my chapters be?
That’s entirely up to you. It honestly doesn’t matter. Martin writes chapters that vary from one page per chapter to 20 pages or 40 pages per chapter. If you’re having trouble figuring out where to end your chapters you can end them when you finish a ‘scene’. I, personally, like the ‘each chapter is it’s own story’ method. They begin and end with a question (for example, character A is looking for a cup. At end of chapter she’s found cup but in finding it she realized she also needs a spoon so now she has to figure out where that’s gone). BUT, you can do whatever feels right for your story.
Should all my chapters be the same length?
Nope. They don’t have to be. There is no rule. There is no chapter god who will strike you dead because your chapters weren’t all the exact same number of pages. Trust me. 😛 Chapter One of my novel is 30 pages (when formatted). After that chapters vary from 10 pages to 20.
Final Thoughts
Don’t worry about all this stuff. Not when you’re drafting. When you’re writing that story down JUST WRITE. Who cares about the mechanics. Who cares about any of the rules. Just tell your story. Once you have your first draft you can start worrying about word count and page numbers… but trust me, you WILL meet your goal. It will be hard work, and it will require making some painful choices (but I don’t WANT to cut that scene out. I loved it!!!!) but if you’re willing to do the work your draft will turn into a dazzling manuscript.
Keep working!
You’ve got this.



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