Writing is Writing… Right?

Wrong! There are different writing styles that follow different rules. Sure, they all follow the same grammar guidelines, but each is designed for a particular task. There are five different styles that come to mind.

  1. Technical Writing tells specific details about a specific subject. An example would be a manual or How-to book.
  2. Expressive Writing is subjective – a more personal approach, such as a diary or a personal journal.
  3. Expository Writing informs or exposes. Newspapers, essays and reports are examples of this style.
  4. Persuasive Writing takes a position and attempts to persuade the reader to the same opinion.
  5. Creative Writing is intended to entertain the reader, such as a novel or a play.

Let’s focus on creative writing for now. Most forms of creative writing are defined by the number of words. There are exceptions that come to mind, such as chapbooks, stage plays and screenplays. Stage plays and screenplays go by the number of pages because in those particular formats one page is roughly one minute of time, but I’ll save that for another time. There are a ton of articles that will tell you to write from the heart and don’t pay any attention to the number of words. While it is true, writing the story is the most important objective, the word count is pretty important as well. I’ll go over some the word count guidelines to help you set the pace.

You probably haven’t heard much dribble about drabble, and that’s because drabble is exactly 100 words. Writing drabble is a good way learn to “Trim the fat” off of a longer story. Anything shorter than drabble falls into the extreme shorts or micro fiction category.

There isn’t as fine a line between flash fiction, minute mysteries and short – shorts. Flash fiction is typically between 100 and 1,000 words; minute mysteries are more focused around the 750 word mark and short – shorts are less than 5,000. However, a story of about 1,500 to 2,000 words may still be considered flash fiction.

The lines are just as fuzzy between short stories and novelettes. Short stories are typically between 5,000 and 7,500 words, while novelettes are between 7,500 and 17,500. A story of about 15,000 words could be considered either one. On the contrary, the cut-off between a novella and a novel seem to be a little more defined. Novellas are between 17,500 and 40,000 words and anything longer is a novel.

Although the story is the most important element, you should have an idea of the category for which you are writing. The chart below shows a fair representation of the category as it pertains to the approximate word count.

  • Drabble 100
  • Extreme short 0 - 100
  • Micro fiction 0 – 100
  • Minute Mystery 750 ish
  • Flash fiction 100 - 1,000
  • Short-short story 500 – 5,000
  • Short story 1,000 - 7,500
  • Novelette 7,500 - 17,500
  • Novella 17,500 - 40,000
  • Novel 40,000 + (Typically 90,000 – 160,000)

You can view my other articles at sharkness

Writing | Non-Fiction | How To