Update: June 8, 2019, 4:48 p.m. “The Man Who Escaped from Hell”

One of my concepts of cover art for The Man Who Escaped from Hell using an alternate title. The locket is a significant detail in the overall story. The graphic is from the public domain, but it dovetails nicely with the story and provided inspiration for the inclusion of a locket.

After reviewing the word counts on my three novels in progress, I realize that I should be focusing on The Man Who Escaped from Hell (working title), which is by far the furthest along at 84,000+ words. I want it between 80,000 and 100,000. Shadows and Stars…, however, is at 54,000+ with the same goal of 80,000-100,000. Another, The Long-Pig Inquiry, (working title, sci-fi/horror), is at around 34,000+ with the same goal. I worked most recently on The Man Who… over the Fall and Winter, but the ideas would not flow, but ideas for Shadows and Stars… were coming constantly and still are.  Ideas for The Long-Pig Inquiry come occasionally.

But with The Man Who… being closest to a complete first draft, I will take some time to review its status and see if I can stimulate enough ideas to bring it to a well-crafted conclusion.  I do not want this to be some (pardon my French) half-assed hack work. I want it to be a true work of art. I will have to continue with Shadows and Stars… simultaneously, because the good ideas keep coming.  It would be foolish to let them slip away.

By the way, “long pig” is a term cannibals of New Guinea reportedly use to refer to the flesh of humans, much as we use “pork” to refer to the flesh of swine. The taste is said to be similar to that of pork.

Of course, the subject of The Man Who… is a man who literally escapes from Hell, but there is a twist revealing that escaping from Hell is not as simple as one would think, not that escaping from Hell would be ever be simple.

One thing I have learned in writing these posts, is that it is fun to tease the audience with the superficial details of a mystery and this helps me learn how to hold an audience in suspense.


Update: June 7, 2019, 5:02 p.m. Word Count for “Shadows and Stars…”

For my sci-fi novel, Shadows and Stars Lying Down, I am shooting for a word count of between 80,000 to 100,000. I currently have a little over 54,000 words. I am past the point of no return. I have to finish this.

When I research word count for a novel, short story, or novella, I find a lot of varying answers. The most recent general consensus seems to be that to be accepted as a first novel by most publishers these days, the word count should be around 80,000-100,000. That may vary considerably by publisher (I have seen one that accepts 50,000 words as a first novel and another as 40,000, a more traditional count).

Other figures I have found for other formats for fiction are:

6-300 for micro-fiction

Up to 1,000 for flash fiction

1,000-21,000 for a short story (sometimes longer)

Around 10,000 for a novelette (a debatable category)

Circa 20,000-50,000 for a novella

Of course, there are lots of subcategories and nuanced categories that one might find, particularly under the flash fiction category.  There is even a Twitter novel/story of what can fit into a single tweet.

For what it’s worth, I did a quick search of Duotrope, which I use for submitting short stories. In general, Duotrope considers 40,000+ words to be a novel. Granted that this is very small slice of novel publishers, but I found out  the following, which may give an indication of generally accepted lengths for a novel (there are a whole lot of possible caveats here). I won’t list the publishing company names. Note the range of differences. Note also that some of these companies overlap the different pay rates. For example, a company might pay pro rates and semi-pro rates (though I tried to separate those here).   In any case, this gives an idea of the range of opinions of the length a novel should be.

I have surpassed the 40,000+ point with my novel, but to tell the story as I think it should be, I will need at least 80,000 words anyway.

For a market paying Duotrope’s “pro rates” for a novel on any topic there were six matches. Here are the lengths considered novels:




80,000+ (two companies)


For a market paying Duotrope’s “semi-pro rates” for a novel on any topic there were six matches. Here are the lengths considered novels:

40,000+ (four companies)



For a market paying Duotrope’s “token rates” for a novel on any topic there were six matches. Here are the lengths considered novels:

40,000+ (four companies)



Let me know you opinion of these lengths and nuanced categories/formats you find interesting.