Different sources use different definitions, but stories of different lengths fall into different categories:
Over 80,000 words - Novel
25,000 to 40,000 words - Novella
12,000 to 20,000 words - Novelette
7,000 to 10,000 words - "Long" Short story
3,000 to 7,000 words - Short story
1,000 to 3,000 words - "Short" Short story
under 500 words - Flash fiction
Sometimes writing workshops use various tricks to get people to write economically -- Jeff Ford had the 2004 Clarion class write a 900-word story (it was originally going to be 800-words, but you know...) and I understand the 2006 Clarion class got to write genre poetry.
A New "Low"?
This weekend I got my new copy of Wired magazine, the November 2006 issue. Flipping through it, I discovered an article on six-word stories. No, honestly! You can see the text of the stories they used, plus some extras, here.
I have to say, being long-winded and long-writed (writed???) -- a wordy sonofabitch -- that I just can't see how to write something that short. I joked to Mrs. Dr. Phil, that a Dr. Phil six-word story would actually take 22 words, have 3 characters and one P.O.V. change... (grin) Unless you want to consider: "War ends. Above God smiled." Damn! I wrote that in FIVE words. Gee, maybe this Clarion training in writing short stories is BEGINNING to take hold. (double-wide-grin)
Of course, even the 33 writers they contacted had to play games with the six-word limit...
Will this do (lazy writer asked)?
- Ken MacLeod
Steve ignores editor's word limit and
- Steven Meretzky
I could pull out my favorites, but you know what? Just jump over to the article or find yourself a nice printed up copy of the November 2006 Wired magazine and enjoy some silly, short and occasionally poignant very short stories.