Speculative Fiction Genres and Their Word Counts

At Ink & Fable Publishing, we love the wild, the outlandish, the quirky, the mind blowing – we love stories that tear us from reality and place us into a new world that we can explore and enjoy (and sometimes sob over). With submissions for Ink & Fable open, we wanted to share the genres that we absolutely LOVE and are passionate about. As readers and writers ourselves, we love stories that entice and engulf us within the world of the novel, and we do the same for Ink & Fable and our readers. 

We accept manuscripts written for Young Adult, New Adult and Adult audiences. Young Adult (commonly known as YA) is fiction that targets teenagers, 13 and up. Generally the age and experience of the protagonist lines up with that of the readers though many adults enjoy the YA category. YA also often has a running theme of ‘coming of age’ throughout its stories. New Adult (NA) is focused on those ages 18-30, focusing on issues such as sexuality, career choices, and leaving home. 

We accept novels and novellas that fall under the speculative fiction umbrella such as: fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, dystopian, utopian, steampunk, alternate history, adventure, and horror.  To help you establish which genre your manuscript falls under. The numbers below represent the average word count within each genre for novels but remember that there are always exceptions to the rule. Novellas tend to fall between 40,000 and 60,000 words. 

#1: Fantasy

A huge personal favorite of the Ink & Fable crew–to write and read!

Fantasy is generally identified by magic, but also the possibility within the story. Word count usually is between 60,000-100,000, while epic fantasy can be between 100,000 to 200,000 words.

#2: Science Fiction

Sci fi is characterized by a futuristic society, with technology more advanced than our own. Occasionally you might see an otherworldly character or two. 

The average word count is between 60,000-90,000.

#3: Paranormal

Paranormal stories are set in our world… but with vampires, werewolves, ghosts, or other supernatural beings and ideas. 

Word count is usually 60,000-90,000.

#4: Dystopian

A newer genre, and more of a secondary genre, dystopian shows the aftermath of a destroyed world or government. 

60,000-100,000 words is average for this genre. 

#5: Utopian

Utopian is characterized, much like dystopian, by focusing on social and political structures. It is the opposite of dystopian, it is a perfect world, but sometimes that is more eerie.

60,000-100,000 words is average for this genre. 

#6: Steampunk

Futuristic with a focus on aesthetics and technology, steampunk is another sub-genre for science fiction. It focuses on steam-powered machinery. 

Average word count is 60,000-90,000.

#7: Alternate History

What if history had taken a different course? What if another country had won a certain war? This speculative fiction takes a look at all of the what ifs of history and what could have happened. Also known as allohistory. 

This genre’s word count is usually between 70,000-100,000.

#8: Adventure

Adventure stories take us on a journey whether physical, mental, emotional, or all three. A journey within the characters can happen as well as around the characters–and even the readers. 

The average word count is 90,000 to 130,000 while epic adventure can be 120,000 to 200,000.

#9: Horror

This genre keeps us on the edge of our seat: the plot revolves around something terrifying or scary. Oftentimes overlaps with a thriller or mystery. This is a very show, don’t tell genre as it focuses on the senses. 

60,000-90,000 is the average word count. 

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