How ‘Not’ To Write A Light Novel

September 3, 2009 at 8:11 pm 8 comments


Well, as to be expected with a book niche like ours, somebody decided to write an article for a how-to site on how to go about writing and publishing a light novel in America. Great right?

Let me start off by saying first of all, this article is horribly put together, mistake filled, and innacurate. I will annalyze it here in depth, to point out all the information either left out, ignored, or mistakenly written.

Ever hated novels because they were too long? Maybe because they were boring, perhaps? Well get this! There is a new trend in the writing scene which emerged in Japan in the 90’s. This writing trend is a new type of novel called, light novels.

First of all, as I am pretty sure from remembering a conversation on a forum regarding Light Novels, they did not originate in the 90’s. Although that’s when they became mainstream and subsequently I believe recieved their popular term, the idea of light novels has been around in Japan and China long before that time. Not only that, but consider the fact that “Sherlock Holmes” was serialized in a magazine and published with illustrations. Does that not sound like a light novel to you? Not only that, but it was published on the other side of the world long long long before the 90’s ever came around. So to say it “emerged” would probably be a wrong statement, a better one would be to say “became popular in the mainstream of Japan’s youth’.

Light novels are under 20,000 words, just like your average novella

……I mean…..are you serious? This is such a blatently wrong and innacurate statement about light novels. For the overwelming majoirty of light novels, they are NOT, I repeat, NOT 20,000 words! Sheesh. They are on average 50,000 words, the usual requirement of american full length novels. In fact, at times, they are much bigger than even 50,000 words.

Wait, you gasp, what? Yes, there’s technically nothing LIGHT or inferrior about the size of a light novel compared to american novels (except perhaps in how they decide to publish it, such as shrinking the text or dimensions of the novel). Many bestsellers in America are only 50,000 words, the same ammount as Haruhi. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is NOT 20,000 words, it is around 50,000 words. I know, cause I once did a spell check.

So this article is terribly misleading to a new writer who see’s this and gains the impression he only needs 20,000 words. I mean, mind you, this article is for american writers who want to write a light novel and get published. I doubt any publisher would even consider the manuscript with that low of a word count.

Only one fully and faithfully translated light novel has been released in the United States (i.e. Suzumiya Haruhi)

What in the world?! “Only one”?! Excuse me?! It seems to me reading this article, that the author hadn’t read but only ONE light novel. There are many, many translated light novels (faithfully translated and not) that are out available to buy. I know, cause I own them.

Of course, every great novel comes from an idea. Same with light novels. Try a question you want to write about, and one that you can think of answering. Like say, what if the world can be changed by one person and that person just doesn’t know it?

Um…wait…isn’t that the question that lead to “Haruhi” being written? Shouldn’t the reader and potential writer be asking different questions that will lead to more original story ideas than what’s already being pumped out by the existing industry?

If you want to try getting over writer’s block, here’s how. Try writing a chapter every 10 days, better if you write it down on a word processor, like Microsoft Word or OpenOffice. If you travel and don’t want to use a USB, Google Docs is a good idea for writing on the spot, as well as backing up your stories, characters and info if ever you lose them in some sort of incident or accident where they get deleted.

Ugh….as a writer of novels myself, I can only sit back and stare. How does writing in Microsoft Word help writers block? O_o Mind you, I use the program and love it, however, I’ve never seen it magically stop writers block from happening in people. In my opinion, a far better answer would have been “write even if you don’t feel like it. Just write. Make yourself. Don’t let yourself stop, keep pushing yourself to keep going further.”

If ever you want a light novel to have illustrations, manga-esque illustrations are good ways to complement a light novel.

Um….maybe this author didn’t realize something, but um, a light novel sort of HAS to have manga illustrations in order TO BE a light novel! lol It needs a drawn anime cover at the very least.

Remember that a light novel is under 20,000 words but more than 15,000 words, so if ever wanting to publish it, be sure to convince the publisher that this is not a kid’s book. Also, make sure your chapters are under 3,000 words.

What in the heck? A light novel is around 50,000 words on average, NOT 20,000. And what in the world are you telling people?! “Keep your chapters under 3,000 words”?! This is horrible to tell a new writer. What about Spice and Wolf, a novel that is fatter than most, probably racks up a word count higher than the average 50,000 and has chapters that are far longer than normal. I’m pretty sure they are more than 3,000 a piece.

So yea, hopefully you can understand why I devoted time to annalyzing this article that was written. It’s just ‘that’ bad. lol

I also feel it terribly irresponsible and down right ignorant for the author of the article to NOT have stated clearly that there has NEVER been an english authored light novel yet published in America and that the current market for one is virtually non existant. The way he writes the article, it sounds as if its just as easy as anything to do.

Please share your thoughts and opinions and if I missed any other mistakes this guy wrote, or didn’t go as indepth about a mistake as you’d like, then please clarify.


Entry filed under: Articles.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sharillon  |  September 4, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Wasnt there some similar discrimination in the VIZ-Article about it.
    It was like “Viz is publishing real novels. Not some kiddy, shitty Light Novels!”

    • 2. ranobecafe  |  September 4, 2009 at 8:28 am

      Well, however, in this case, the author of the How-To article “LIKES” light novels. So I don’t think you really can relate the two, ya know?

  • 3. kafkafuura  |  September 7, 2009 at 1:58 am

    o.o; <- that's all I can say

  • 4. Bureizu  |  April 3, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks man, I always wanted to write something like a Anime or a Mange but it turns out I am good at drawing it just it takes A LOT of time and it usually ends up looking messed up and I honestly have little artistic imagination when it comes to drawing xD So yeah then I wanted to write a book but thats… yeah boring so now I went onto light novels and it seems like a much better option šŸ™‚ thanks for telling me how not to write a light novel I’m glad I always open a few tabs when i do research on things…

  • 5. aira isane  |  February 19, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    I’m so glad I read this… I’ve been writing my drafts for a light novel I’ve been thinking about and came across the wikihow. Since I didn’t know what a light novel was exactly, I was about to believe every bit of the article even when I questioned the 20,000 words and 3,000 words per chapter. Thanks so much for clearing this up.

  • 6. Lkillingbeck  |  July 15, 2012 at 2:07 am

    Ffff… this so called “article” doesn’t do anything for me yours not the guy who initially wrote the how-to. This doesn’t stop me from wanting to make my story a light-novel. I think your bias.

    People hear me out, if you want to write a light novel GO FOR IT. Don’t let this guy or any others tell you otherwise!

    Remember what great thinkers of the past have taught us

  • 7. Ithamar Paraguassu Ramos  |  April 1, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Ha Ha
    Accel word have chapters with 13000 words.

  • 8. Sarah Albarn  |  April 27, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I agree Fully with you.


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Welcome To Ranobe Cafe!

This marks the english speaking world's first dedicated light novel blog, bringing you news and views from the english perspective on light novels. We are more than just a blog about light novels though, we also stand in awe of the many other literary works crossing over to the West from Japan. So expect to also see articles that dabble from time to time in Cell Phone Novels and Japanese Sci-Fi works, to mention a few.

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