Do you want to know how long to make a story?

Size matters.

Some say write until your done, but as with all things, there is a rule of thumb. And knowing where the goal-line is may be helpful.

Want to know the answer?

I do agree we should write until finished, however, goals and guidelines are helpful. And as usual, successful writers/bloggers come to the rescue. With the help of friends, you can take the guesswork out of the numbers. 


Flash Fiction?

Generally, unless restricted by rules of a publication or contest, the word count for Flash Fiction is under 1,000. If submitting to a specific publication be sure and check their requirements.

A Drabble?

A Drabble is exactly 100 words, not including the title. Writing 100 words is not as easy as you might think. Takes practice. Give it a try.

Short story?

A short story length generally falls somewhere between 1,500 and 4,000 words. As with flash fiction, if submitting to a specific publication, check their rules.

Novelette, Novela?

In our fast-paced world, the Novelette and Novela are becoming very popular.  A Novelette is usually between 7,000 and 20,000. The Novela word count is between 20,000 -40,000.

Novel or Epic?

Novels vary between 40,000 – 110,000 depending on genre. Writing an epic is a big challenge. These tombs are over 110,000. Whew!

Here are my own cheat sheets.

Feel free to copy and paste them into your computer.

Robin Woods breaks down the word count further into genres. Be sure and read her post…



Christine Frazier breaks down the books into chapters and chapter count. This information can be really helpful in keeping your book consistent. Know where and how to break a chapter is important. Unless there is a compelling reason, you wouldn’t want your book to give the reader whiplash with one chapter 1000 words and the next one 4,500. Christine breaks down a few popular novels for us.

Playing the Numbers: Basic Word Counts by 


As with all rules, some are made to be broken. But, I find having guidelines and goals make me a better writer. What about you?

Want to read more about correct word counts keep reading. Here are more great posts on the subject.

Novel and Short Story Word Counts | 

What is the Perfect Length of Short Stories? 

How to Write a Drabble

Was this information helpful?

Do you think guidelines are useful?

Leave me a comment and tell me what you think.




Be brave, throw caution to the wind and submit

Or do you think short stories are dead?

I think there is still a place for them. Flipboard and StumbleUpon are going great guns and so are several other e-magazines. But where does a writer submit? Should we use the machine gun effect and scatter stories everywhere?

Hmm, that’s one way to get my stories out fast.

I’ll admit a couple of years ago I submitted a lot of articles and short stories. But this past year not so much. Only one or two, here and there. Why? Because I was busy publishing my books and life interrupted a few times.

However, I continued writing flash fiction and as a result, have a few stories I’d like to submit. So maybe it’s time to start the process again.

Now where to start?

  • Duotrope ($5.00 Mo.) To help you find the perfect match for your piece from thousands of current fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art publishers.
  • The Grinder  (Free) A submission tracker and market database for writers of fiction.
  • Poets & Writers  (Free) Database of over eight hundred literary magazines.
  • The Market List  (Free) The first fully comprehensive writer’s market guidelines index online. Also, offers free advertising for your published books.
  • New Pages  (Free) Provides news, information, and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests.

And of course Google. That’s right you can Google contests, ezines, magazines and find places to submit your story.

Remember to sign up for emails and subscribe to the publication after you submit. Reading the publications will help in future submissions.

Do you have a favorite source or publication you like to send stories to?

Have you submitted anything lately? If not why?

Talk to me – I love reading your comments.

Please head over and “like” my Facebook page at Facebook at jeanswriting . Or to connect with me, click the “write me” tab. Don’t forget you can follow me on StumbleUpon,  on Twitter @jeancogdell , and

Please stop by and say “hey!”  I’ll leave a light on. 

Flash Fun-Trust Me

This week is the week for scary fun.

Trust Me

“Are you sure it’s okay?”

“Yeah,” he said, looking for a place to pull off the road. The gravel crunched under the car as they eased along a country road. He parked, and the engine sputtered falling silent.

“Sure no one can see us?” She shifted nervously looking out the window.

“I’m sure,” he smiled, glancing up at the moon, “unless a werewolf shows up, I think you’ll be fine.”

Before she could protest, he pressed his lips to hers. She melted against the pressure of his tight embrace. Her eyes grew wide when she felt the sharp prick against her neck.

She pulled away, “you said I’d be safe.”

“I’m not a werewolf.” He shrugged as blood dripped from his smiling lips.

Originally posted in May 2012 in response to a photo prompt challenge.

Need inspiration? Check out…

Two Sentence Horror Story

Ten Quote Tuesday

Halloween prompt What’s your story?

Great Motivation! Thanks FFW

The holidays are over, the decorations are down and it’s time to get back in the groove. I couldn’t have ask for a better motivation to rev up my keyboard than the surprise that awaited me this morning in my inbox.  

Flash Fiction World-Volume 2 Anthology (Kindle edition) was released today with one of my short stories included. I’d no idea that Asleep No More  by J. M. Cogdell (that’s me) had made the cut and even been selected for publication. What a wonderful way to start 2013!

Click on the link above and check it out! A bargain at $4.47, remember to be sure and click the “like” button to give me as well as the other authors a boost it will be much appreciated. Everybody loves a thumbs up.

Book Description

Publication Date: January 4, 2013

Flash Fiction World (FFW) proudly presents its second collection of high quality flash fiction and short stories written by many authors from around the world, including amateur, professional and award winning authors. Each story has been selected for its high level of quality in terms of writing skill and pure reading enjoyment. There are seventy stories of up to 1000 words, in all genres, for the reader to enjoy.

This substantial book is for lovers of flash fiction and short stories. All genres are included – thrillers, romance, comedy, horror, fantasy, crime and more. If your taste is for fiction that leans more to the commercial side, with fast-driven plots and action all the way you won’t be disappointed. At the same time many of our stories are literary in style. They deal with the inner conflicts, fears and dramas that take place within the human being.

To take three examples, Flash Fire by R.A. Savary takes a no-holds barred look at the actions of two strangers, a man and a woman caught up unexpectedly in a restaurant nightmare. The Last Love by Varun Malhotra describes a day in the life of an Indian prostitute, and how her love for a client is doomed to fail. The darkly humorous Keeping the Magic Alive by Cath Barton takes us on an outing with a long-married couple. This wry tale looks at how expectations can lessen as years progress.

Flash Fiction World – Volume 2 is packed with stories about all the facets and dramas of life. Whatever your preference you will find plenty of reading material (over 30,000 words) in these pages to keep you happy and leave you fulfilled. I guarantee that you will enjoy a fiction feast and will be seeking more stories by many of the writers that you discover in these pages.

R.A.Savary, Varun Malhotra, Benjamin Davis, Sally Jenkins, JB Lacaden, Ines Franco Fatzinger, Melanie Taylor Herrera, Thomas Pitre, Matthew J. Metzger, Rob Harris, Mark Allerton, J.M. Cogdell, Doug Donnan, A Goddard, Cath Barton, Keith Davison, Ellie Stewart, Helen Lavall, M Hazzan, Wayne Scheer, Ines Bouhannani, Alex Robinson, Peter Lingard, Elliott Capon, Ciro DiLorenzo, Christian L. Berger, Michael A. Kechula, Natalie Bowers, Billie Louise Jones, John Mulligan, Joseph Kaval, Faith, Bill Rayburn, Kirsty May Grant, Merrick W. Allen, Emily Parry, Taryn, Brian Toller, Richard Hartwell, Unisse Chua, Tanya Keefe, Angela R Sargenti, Michelle Ann King, Alan Balkema, Theresa, Patricia Crandall, Shanon Creeley, Cathy Bryant, Olivia Sadie, Duke Alexander, Duncan Jones, Paula Kennedy, Candy Chilton, Sarah E. Alderman, Kerri Dominique, Chaitali Gawade, Danielle Parker, Sheila Armstrong, Stephen Terry, Christina Murphy.