How Long Does It Take To Write a Fantasy Book?

Fantasy is a popular genre with a growing following every year since the success of the series Game of Thrones. Creating a fantasy world takes passion, dedication, and time to create a successful novel or series. If you have chosen to write a fantasy novel, you might wish to know how long you should expect to spend on a full-length manuscript. 

It takes 41 hours to write a 100,000-word fantasy novel if you type at a speed of 40 words per minute. However, factoring in the variables and the fact that you are unlikely to write these hours back to back, you should average on a year or so if you set yourself 500 words at four sessions a week.

While some authors, such as Michael Moorcock, claim to write 60,000-word novels in three days, this would take considerably longer for most of us. It’s an excellent idea to put a time frame on your completed first draft, or you might find yourself swept up in life. Stick around to discover how long it should take to write a fantasy novel and what factors will influence this writing time. 

The Physical Time It Will Take You To Write a Fantasy Novel 

According to TypingPal, most people have an average typing speed of around 40 words per minute. So you might want to calculate the time needed to complete a novel as follows:

  • 80,000 ÷ 40 wpm = 2000 minutes÷ 60 = 33.33 hours
  • 100,000 ÷ 40 wpm = 2500 minutes÷ 60 = 41.6 hours
  • 150,000 ÷ 40 wpm = 3750 minutes÷ 60 = 62.5 hours

However, we are all human and, unfortunately, not androids. So it would be unlikely that we could achieve these writing hours back to back, which brings us back to the challenging reality of our existence.

The Realistic Time It Will Take To Write a Fantasy Novel 

As much as we all dream of being full-time novelists, not many of us will achieve this dream. 

Many writers need to support themselves and their families, so writing takes place in the stolen hours of daybreak or the deepest night.

Many people recommend setting achievable writing goals of around 500 words per session for employed first-time novelists. A realistic goal would be to plan three to four writing sessions a week because, as you know, life has a way of getting between you and the “typewriter.”

So if you use this realistic writing schedule, you should be looking at a writing time for your first draft as follows:

75,000-word fantasy novel10 Months to 14 Months
100,000-word fantasy novel1 Year to 1½ Years
150,000-word fantasy novel1.5 Years to 2 Years 

Factors That Affect Your Writing Time 

In a sense, when an aspiring author asks how long it will take to write a fantasy novel, it’s the same as asking how long a piece of string is. There are several factors that affect the length of time you will need to write your fantasy novel. 

Let’s explore some of these reasons in more detail. 

The Length of the Novel You Intend To Write

Fantasy novel fans generally seek longer, more epic sagas, so many successful authors write their fantasy books in a series. It takes time to set up a fantasy world and careful planning to set up the new world with its corresponding rules. 

The epic Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell stands at 309,000 words, while the Temple of the Winds from the Sword of Truth series is over 307,000 words long. Tolkien set the scene for epic fantasy when he wrote the Fellowship of the Ring at 187,790 words.

There is nothing wrong with extending your word count when writing a fantasy novel. However, publishers are wary of first-time authors who exceed the 110,000-word count, even in the fantasy genre.

Publishers view longer novels as an added production expense, and new novelists are less likely to recoup the cost. So it makes sense to keep your word count in the safe range until you establish a name in the fantasy field. 

After all, it can be the start of a breakout series. 

How Much Research You Require

Depending on the fantasy world you intend to create to place your protagonists, you may need to do a fair amount of research and planning. Just contemplating Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series makes my head spin, and everyone knows the extensive work that Robert Jordan put into his mind-blowing Wheel of Time series.

If you set your fantasy novel in a particular era, it requires extensive research into the customs, clothing, speech, and behaviors of that specific period in time. The more elaborate your intended universe, the longer it may take you to set the scene for your epic saga. 

How Long You Intend To Spend on Revision

There is a distinction between a first draft and a completed manuscript and many endless mind-numbing and hair-pulling hours in between. After the slog is over, you should take some downtime for a month or two. 

You’ll want to take this time so that when you face your unedited manuscript, you have the energy to start the real graft.

As the beloved Roald Dahl said, the art of good writing is rewriting, and it certainly rings true. 

Some famous novelists rewrite their first drafts several times before being satisfied, so you need to factor in the revision stage to make your prose shine. 

Your Individual Creative Process

Everyone is different when it comes to the mighty muse. 

Some fantasy writers, such as Brian Sanderson, are prolific, while others sometimes take several years between novels. Sanderson averages 2,000 words per day and reaches 400,000 words a year when he pushes himself.

While we all aspire to have such an impressive output, we should trust in our own creative process and not feel pressured to keep up with other writers’ accelerated writing speed. Set realistic goals and stick to them, and you will arrive at the same place at your own pace. 

Final Notes

Novel writing is a highly individual process and dependent on many external factors. Some writers churn out novels at a furious pace, while others take a decade or more between books

Ultimately, if you set yourself a realistic writing schedule and stick to it with commitment, you can achieve your goals in the time you set for yourself.