How Do I Classify My Story?

One question I am asked by other writers is how to classify their stories.  Is it a novel, novella, novelette, or short story etc?

There is some confusion in regard to  page count too.  Page count is irrelevant when it comes to how to classify your story because the number of pages can change depending on how you format your piece of writing.  Classification is all about word count.  But, when it comes to word count, there isn’t really a universal standard or official decision.

For the purpose of the Nebula Awards, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website provide these classifications below.  I use this general guide for my own writing.

Novel: 40,000 words or more
Novella: 17,500 – 39,999 words
Novelette: 7,500 – 17,499 words
Short Story: 7,499 words or fewer

My additions to their definitions to allow for Flash Fiction are below.

Short Story: 7,499 to 1001
Flash Fiction: 1000 or fewer

This article on Wiki is helpful.

Also, different genres shoot for specific word counts when it comes to publishing.  Writer’s digest has a good article detailing the different boundaries (here).

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Boy in the Drain

Driving home from work, Mandy enjoyed the blue sky and cool air flowing into her car. It was welcome. Her office building was too warm and stuffy being the late fall. Also, the prolonged bouts of clouds and rain the past couple of weeks made her yearn for the sun. Turning the final corner to her house, she found her youngest son playing by the street drain once again. He was laying on his back on the curb, looking up toward the sky, and talking.

At first, anger sparked within her, then it drained into a pit of weariness. She told Wade numerous times that a nine year old boy had no business playing around a filthy storm drain. Yet, here he was doing it again. She sighed as she slowed down to a stop and rolled down her driver side window.

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EVE Online: Hoarder

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Caldari State
The Forge Region
Kimotoro Constellation
Kisogo System
Planet VII
Station: State War Academy

Cages rattled and vibrated when the thick doors opened. The vault was large, blast proof, and sound transmission was null. Nothing in and out without the capsuleer’s complete approval, encrypted code, voice print, embedded biochip, and biosecurity scans. This was her most important activity where she let her maternal instincts fully come to the surface.

“Oh, my sweet dears,” she cooed gently, petting their beautiful, sweet heads. “Mommy had such a long day of teaching and instruction with those obstinate, arrogant brats. I just needed to come see my perfect babies.” All the chittering and chattering of her hazy eyed pets made her feel needed. She barely noticed the stench.

Lesha stopped at each cage and gave her attention to each one in turn. Stroking their hair, squeezing their faces, checking their vitals. “Perfect health makes for a happy, playful life,” she encouraged. “Oh, my darlings, you all make me so happy. Are you ready for dinner?” Her sing song voice carried from the entrance to the back wall.

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EVE Online: Breach

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Caldari State
The Forge Region
Aulari Constellation
Airaken System
Planet VI – Moon 1
Station: Sisters of EVE Bureau

“What is wrong with you?” Cornelias asked, slamming a palm down on the desk in front of him. His subordinate, Wilik Horis Tols jerked up from having rested his head on a stack of reports. His densely cluttered desk was a disaster zone, and the blow rattled the precarious stacks around him. They strained, almost in slow motion, to upend themselves, mounds of unending work toppling in all directions. Wilik breathed a sigh of relief when they settled without falling.

“I’m on my lunch break, sir,” Wilik explained in a mild voice. “I thought a small nap on my time would make me more productive this afternoon. For the good of the corporation.”

Cornelias swiped his wrist device and a holographic projection appeared with all of his staff’s schedules available for perusal. He pulled up Wilik and eyed it carefully. Satisfied he shut it down. “Quite right,” he offered reluctantly. “I received a request from the top brass on an old case. I want you to rummage through your, um, work load and bring it over for discussion. I’ll send the details.”

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EVE Online: The Unfinished Game

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Gallante Federation
Verge Vendor Region
Aideron Constellation
Stou System
Planet VII

White tables filled the white room where everyone dressed in white. Joesen sat with his protected forehead resting on the hard surface in front of him. His long, untied robe hung open. The white shirt and pants he wore were freshly washed, smelled fresh, and his soft slippers kept his feet warm. The tall three sets of doors to the outside let in the frosty air. It smelled pleasant compared to the smell of Tarmin’s shit that permeated the place most of the time.

Joesen raised his head up and looked toward the high, bland ceiling. His pale green eyes looked beyond the long windows, beyond the blue, beyond the atmosphere to the stars above. Of course, he could not see them during the day, but he knew they were there. The Gallente form tattoos streaked his pale face, his features gaunt and thin gave him an unhealthy appearance.

“Fuck!” Joesen yelled, bringing his head down to strike the table. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” Each word was followed by a heavy head slam. The staff of the facility learned quickly that Joesen needed something to keep him from injuring his head on any nearby surface, so they shaved his head and put on a white safety helmet. He seemed to like it, so he did not fight them.

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EVE Online: Cracked Capsule

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Gallante Federation
Sinq Laison Region
Coriault Constellation
Dodixie System
Planet IX – Moon 9
Station: Nugoeihuvi Corporation Development Studio

“Routine and more routine,” Gennis said as he closed out another transaction shaking his head. “Pilots fly out, get the crap beat out of their ships, fly back in, and want repairs. Wake up. Eat breakfast. Provide a quote. Eat lunch. Deal made. Make sure the replacement parts are formed just so. Better get that paint right, Gennis, they say. Like it all shiny, they do! Go home. Eat dinner. Go to bed. No real challenge anymore.”

“Makes for a good living, plenty of ISK to pay for the honies and brews,” Eduard commented as he scrolled through a list of current repair requests. Glancing over at Gennis he winked and grinned.

“Wipe that shit eating grin off your face,” Gennis said with his grouchy look. “Easy for a young journeyman, such as yourself, to say. I got a business to run, mouths to feed, and a wife who likes to fucking shop. Not to mention the deadbeats I employ.”

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EVE Online: Fragmented – Tumble (Part 5)

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Location: Unknown

Groggy and on the edge of euphoria, the woman opened her eyes. Her nose and mouth felt covered, but she could take expanding, deep breaths. The small window of her confined space revealed the unexpected. She could barely move in the tiny, coffin sized tube, but at least she could look out.

The stars greeted her in their twinkling voices. They may only be burning points in the black canvas of space, but she found the sweetness of their light glorious. A deep need for compassion ached within her heart, and she found it anywhere she could in her trauma.

Outside, to her right, ships of all sizes appeared to be fighting one another. Some invoked a deep hatred, the ones with extensions like wings and their rusty colored surfaces. The others made her feel afraid with their bulbous bodies and sharp spikes. Threat and hate all merged together inside her.

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