Category Archives: writing resources

Excellent blog on writing – from an editor

This is just a quick blogpost to point you in the direction of my favourite blog on writing. I discovered it the other day and loved the combination of encouragement and chastisement contained within.
If you are in the process of writing a book, please give it a visit. It is well written, funny and very, very helpful.

The novel doctor

I hope you love it as much as I do. Just try not to let it distract you from actually writing.


How long is the average novel

This is a great article from the publishers weekly (click here for the original article). I was wondering how many words are in the average novel. This is the answer, based on Amazon’s stats.

According to Amazon’s great Text Stats feature, the median length for all books is about 64,000 words. The figure was found through looking at a number of books’ text stats, until Brave New World‘s 64,531 word count landed in the exact center of all books–50% of books have fewer words and 50% of books have more words.

PWxyz isn’t sure how useful this information is, but because we secretly like math, we’re all for injecting objective truths into subjective fields like literature. (Which is why things like this happen.) But it is nice to know, when you pick up a book and feel its weight, where it stands in relation to all others.

Anyway, here’s a sampling of classics and where their word counts land them on the spectrum.

Animal Farm

29,966 words (75% of books have more words)

Ethan Frome

30,191 words (75% of books have more words)

The Crying of Lot 49

46,573 words (64% of books have more words)


47,192 words (64% of books have more words)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

53,510 words (58% of books have more words)

Lord of the Flies

62,481 words (51% of books have more words)

Brave New World

64,531 words (50% of books have more words)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

70,570 words (45% of books have more words)

Portnoy’s Complaint

78,535 words (41% of books have more words)


112,473 words (21% of books have more words)

Madame Bovary

117,963 words (18% of books have more words)

Mansfield Park

159, 344 words (9% of books have more words)


209,117 words (4% of books have more words)

East of Eden

226,741 words (3% of books have more words)


262,869 words (2% of books have more words)


310,593 words (2% of books have more words)

War and Peace

544,406 words (0% of books have more words)

Creative writing courses

My book writing has slowed a little the past couple of days while I look after my 16 month old who has his first case of man flu (which as any man will tell you, can be deadly). While this has temporarily slowed progress on my first draft, in the small snatches of time where he doesn’t need attention I have been able to do a couple of things that I’ve been putting off.
The first is more research on the more technical aspects of the novel. I now have at least a basic understanding of the technology behind In vitro meat and human growth hormone, a phrase I never thought I’d ever write.
Secondly I’ve been able to have a look at a couple of free creative writing courses. The two I am looking at are the Open University’s Creative writing – Fiction (also available online here – thanks Jo) and Creative Writing: A master class, both available on iTunesU which has always been part of iTunes but now been updated with it’s own app in the latest iOS 6 release for iPhone and iPad. I’ll review each in detail separately in later blogs but I really do recommend you to look at them purely on the strength of their many interviews with famous authors, all talking about different aspects of their craft. What comes across is that there are many different ways to approach writing and that you need to find what works for you. At the same time there are certain areas you need to think through carefully before starting off and each Author provides ideas to help you think each stage through properly. And they’re free! So what’s stopping you from having a look?