REBLOG: How To Write A Bestseller With Western Writer Scott Harris: Mile 3: Short Story, Novella or Novel?

Scott Harris. An enigma in the Western writing business. A man who has scored hits with each of his releases. There isn’t enough room to name them all here… and now we are presenting his thoughts about writing. Each one of these blogs will give you the thoughts of a bestseller… directly from his mouth! Read on and discover more about Harris’ writing world…


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As I write this series of blogs, I am making three assumptions about the you, the reader. Granted, assumptions are often dangerous, so please forgive me if I’m off. First, you’re interested in writing and the process in and around writing. Second, you want to write fiction. While writing nonfiction (which many of you have done) shares many of the traits of writing fiction, it is still quite different. I have written and published a few nonfiction books, including Western-based books, but will be focusing on fiction in this series. Third, you want to write Westerns. None of these three are requirements for joining us on this shared journey — I just wanted you to know who I am primarily writing for.

That being said, one of the first things you have to determine is what you want to write: a short story, a novella, or a full-blown novel? In general, a short story ranges from 2,000 words on up to 7,500 words, though some extend the definition of a short story to 10,000 words. Novellas pick up where short stories leave off and range up to 40,000 or even 50,000 words, again, depending on who’s counting. Novels are the third rung on the ladder and range from 40,000 to 50,000 words on up to when you run out of things to say.

Most Western novels are in the 40,000 to 60,000 word range, but there certainly is no upper limit, unless and until you run out of story. Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” (perhaps my all-time favorite Western novel), ran upwards of 360,000 words, and left me hungry for more.

This would be an excellent point to sit back and put some thought to the story(ies) you want to tell.

Is it a short, powerful idea that lends itself to a short story, a vignette if you will? Can you see it developing into something with a little more depth where a bit more length will benefit the story and the reader? If so, a novella might be the right answer for you. Or is there enough meat in your idea for a full-blown novel? If so, settle in, because you have a lot of work to do.

NOTE – I have found that a hammock, a cigar and a glass of good bourbon do wonders for helping me think, and even if I don’t come up with a great idea, or solve a problem with my story, I’ve enjoyed the process.

I wish you good writing, and if you have a question or something you’d like to share, send me an email at

Thank you, enjoy and keep writing!


Click here to download your copy

The latest adventure from one of the most exciting Western authors of today! This is “Mojave Massacre” from Scott Harris! A sure-fire reader pleaser!

Brock, Sophie and Huck are still living with the Havasupai at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. But their lives are threatened by the murderous and vengeful Paiute, and Brock and Huck, seeing no alternative, race one hundred miles to a small trading outpost, hoping to buy the rifles that will give them a chance against the much larger Paiute forces.

They stumble across four slaughtered Hopi Indians, track down the murderers, and find help in very unexpected places from friends – new and old.

The final battle is brutal, bloody and decisive.

Mojave Massacre is the exciting second book in the new Grand Canyon trilogy and the fifth book in the best-selling Brock Clemons Western series, following the tremendously successful Dry Springs trilogy. Click here to download your copy of this exciting new book!