Writing Magazine

ON A GRAND SCALE

We’ve explored numerous aspects of fantasy and science-fiction here over the years, and one thing we know is that – on average – books in these genres tend to be longer than those in other forms. There are numerous reasons for this – you could argue these genres require the most significant worldbuilding, which takes time and word count to do effectively. You could also argue that these genres rely to some extent on an epic scale of storytelling and sweeping story arcs featuring multiple characters. There’s very likely an element of reader demand, with fantasy fans mostly seeking out extensive stories rather than shorter novels, leading to authors and publishers seeking to meet those expectations.

There’s probably some truth to all of the above, but the fact remains that while many novels outside of ‘the fantastic’ in its broadest sense stick to around 80,000 to 100,000 words, fantasy and SF novels can push to 120k, 150k, 200k and beyond. This presents a challenge to many writers – even the lower end of the word count scale for

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