How Long is a Short Story: Here are the Statistics in 2024

Short Story in general is any story within 1500 to 15000 words. Anything below could be referred to as flash fiction while above you could call it a novella.

The average length of short stories in pages is 3 to 30 pages (single-spaced) while 6 to 60 pages (double-spaced).

The length of a short story is something that is affected or determined by some factors.

  • Literary Magazines
  • Contests

Literary Magazines

If you are writing a short story for a literary magazine the range of a short story is different.

A literary magazine has other stories and creative pieces to be published. 

The magazine has an average length and an average number of stories published in every issue( publication).

All accepted work is compiled and published with the average length of the magazine in mind.

Some magazines have their sweet spot. While they might claim to not have a sweet spot you can always see it when you look at the stories published in the magazine.

I have compiled this table with the minimum and maximum word count from the submission guidelines of the top literary magazines.

Most literary magazines don’t state a minimum word count. Since we are talking about short stories, 1000 words would be the minimum.

SNMagazines Min
6Three Penny1,0004,000
7The Sun1,0007,000
8Massachusetts 1,0007,500
10One Story 3,0008,000

From the table above the average minimum word count for short stories is 1400 words while the maximum word count for short stories is 7250 words. 

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To find the sweet spot I added the maximum word count and the minimum word count and then took the average ( divide by two).

This gave me an average of  4325 words for a short story. With this number of words, you can’t go wrong with literary Magazines.

Contest Guidelines

Looking at short story contests to tell the average word count for the short story is not reliable.

This is because short story contest organizers reduce the maximum word count to allow the stories to be easily read by the judges.

SNShort Story

Max Words

Reading Time

How long does it take to read a short story?

Using the average reading speed of 150 words per minute. While using the general length of 15,00 to 15,000 words.

The (reading time ) time it takes to read a short story is 10  minutes to 100 minutes (1 hour 40 minutes).

Writing Time

How long does it takes to write a short story?

When it comes to the amount of time it takes to write a short story there are a lot of processes with a different time for every writer. 

However, I would look at the time it takes for you to write or type the number of words for a short story.

I would use this short story writing time as the baseline.

Using the average writing speed of 40 words per minute 

It would take 37.5 minutes (1500 words) to 375 minutes 6 hours 15 minutes (15000) words to write a short story.

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This time depends on how long the short story you are writing. If you are writing a story of 2000 words it would take you 50 minutes to write if you are using an average typing speed of 40 words per minute.

 How long should my short story be?

Well, this is simple if you are writing for a contest check the word count allowed.

If it is a literary magazine check the submission guidelines. You should find instructions on word count.

If it is not given, go through the previous stories published and look at the stories to see the sweet spot.

If you are writing a short story you should aim to be between 3000 to 7000 words.


In this blog, I have tried to answer all the questions one might have about what makes a short story long and what makes it short. If you spend some time writing your short stories, you will become familiar with the length pretty quickly.

So one of the most common questions that people ask about short stories is how long they should be.

There isn’t a single answer to this question because all that matters is how long it needs to be to get your author’s point across.

A short story, unlike a novel, is necessarily going to be very specific and targeted in the material that it covers.

There isn’t the same freedom you have if you are doing a novel where you can have an idea and keep exploring it as far as you want.

If a short story feels like it is getting too long, that is more than likely a good sign that it should be made into something bigger.

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Let me know what you think should be the average word count for a short story. 

Tell me the length of your short stories in the comments section.

By Onyemechi Nwakonam

Hi ,I write poetry and short prose. I am excited to help you organise your writing journey.

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