Wordcount Nightmare

wordsLast night I had a dream in which my manuscript for DRAGONFIRE suddenly had a wordcount of 103k. Yikes. That’s a lot for a middle-grade fantasy, really too much for a debut author. The fact that I dreamed about it tells me that I may obsess about wordcount a little too much.

Wordcount is a real concern for writers with an eye toward publishing since publishers don’t want to gamble the higher expenses of a long novel when the author is an unknown quantity. Exceptional novels might get away with lots and lots of words, but exceptional novels are just that, exceptional. A novel also has a minimum length, otherwise it’s not really a novel.

So I fired up Word and double-checked the wordcount of DRAGONFIRE to find out that the typing elves haven’t been at it, and it’s still the same 63k words as it was when I last worked on it. I’m very happy with that final tally, but it took a good amount of outlining work to make sure I’d have a plot that would end in the right range of words.

Meanwhile, I’m finding that I’m moving through my outline of my latest manuscript, DARK HUNTER faster than I expected to. I may find myself obsessing on the other end of the spectrum and coming up with a story that’s too short. That could mean doing a lot of reworking to make the plot longer without simply adding fluff. What gets added has to matter. I could also write it with more details to stretch it out, but that affects the pacing.

Ultimately a story should have as many words as it needs. I work hard, with varying results, at structuring the story to have a need in the right range.

For MG and YA writers I’ve found this blog article to be very informative on the subject of wordcount and what wordcounts fits the desirable range.

Wordcount Dracula

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One Response to Wordcount Nightmare

  1. Mirka Breen says:

    This is funny. The Word Count that Ate My Book. {A play on the killer vegetable movies from the ’50, a la The Eggplant that Ate Chicago ;) }

    My issue has always been to add to the count. I’m a naturally terse writer. But I know most are admonished to trim.
    If you think of it as a helpful rough goal-setter, it’s fine. But when you start to have nightmares it may be time to try to forget the numbers.

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