From: Roger Foss
Location: In front of my computer
A friend who has literary aspirations asked me (who's literary aspirations have turned themselves into five unpublished books) how long I knew a story had to be. I answered that a story is as long as it needs to be, that you can tell if you have story if you can get a sense of how long it might take to tell that story, and if from that sense of the story you know if you have something that is book-length.
The answer met with about the same receptivity as '2+3=pi'. I explained further that I knew I had a story if I knew that I could go on for a certain number of chapters (incorporating the necessary elements of the story), but that ultimately 'it's as long as it needs to be'.
Said friend seemed/seems to think that a book must go on for a certain number of pages, but that to my thinking is contrary to telling a story.
Perhaps my assumptions are not valid, though; so I turn it over to you and the people who peruse this forum. Is there a standardized methodology for determining how long your story should be?
From: Greg Bear
A story should run until it's finished. But whether it's a novel or a book or not depends on definitions less and less relevant in an age of electronic publishing! Still, a novel usually begins above 40,000 words.