I just need help with writing my short story, I don't want to make it too long and I don't know if I'm over thinking this. Help?

  • 1
    If it's for an assignment, have you tried asking your instructor about word limits?
    – Tau
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 6:57
  • Hi Chris, welcome to writing.se! Take the tour and visit the help center for more information. This is a good question, but one that has been asked before. Therefore it will be closed as a duplicate, that's ok! Duplicate questions help other users find the information they are looking for. That said, in your situation the specific answer will be determined by the assignment criteria which we won't be able to help you with unfortunately. Good luck and happy writing!
    – linksassin
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 7:46
  • Assignment has different limits than a general "short story". While short stories are read for pleasure, and the reader will gladly put extra time in, if the story is captivating enough, a teacher who has to check and give notes for 20+ homeworks (one per student), and often quite a few of them of rather dubious quality, won't be fond of a work that takes considerably more time to read through, unless you somehow really manage to make up for the length in seriously great quality (not just ""good") - and judging by the fact you're even asking this question, I doubt you have the experience.
    – SF.
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 9:25

2 Answers 2


If it's for an assignment, then the assignment will dictate the length. I would note that 12 pages/5,263 words tells me that you're writing single spaced which is probably not what your assigner wants (I'm guessing this is a class assignment).

In writing for publication, I would note that there has been a steady trend towards shorter pieces. I've frequently updated the copies of the guidelines I keep in my submission spreadsheet for journals and magazines that publish short fiction to lower the maximum word count. I can only think of one publication which increased its word count in the last decade and that was a publication which specialized in very short writing and decided to up its maximum word count from 500 to 1000.

All of that said, a piece should be exactly as long as it needs to be.


It depends.

Magazines will give you a range for short stories they buy. If this is for a class then your teacher should have given a range in words that s/he considers a short story.

Wikipedia gives this:

  • Novel: 40,000 words or over
  • Novella: 17,500 to 39,999 words
  • Novelette: 7,500 to 17,499 words
  • Short story: under 7,500 words

But Wikipedia does not give a minimum, and you can find ranges for even shorter works such as short short, flash fiction, etc.

Some sources will give different ranges than Wikipedia for any category, often depending on genre. For example, YA is usually shorter than an adult mystery, and chapter books would be even smaller than YA for a 'book'.

I would consider what you have as a short story and would worry more about how the story works as a story per se and not worry about word count. You can always cut if you write too much. Adding words is often harder to do so they fit well from an entire story perspective.

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