Word Count is one of those funny things that we do not like to think about but we become obsessed about. If you are like me, you find yourself checking your wordcount constantly, made easier by the newer versions of Office which tells you at the bottom of the page what your count is. We all set ourselves goals for our stories – a number that we would like to reach with it. Sometimes we hit it, sometimes we don’t and sometimes we smash it.
It becomes an obsession – finding ways that you increase it. Maybe adding a description here and extending a sentence here and there. Bulking it out. Making sure that the readers are given all the information that they will need to enjoy and understand the book. But is it really necessary? There are guidelines on what counts as a novel but even this can be disputed. A lot of websites say that 40,000 words constitutes a novel but there are some people/websites say that a novel isn’t until 50,000 words. And even then, some people smash this word count. Authors such as Tolkien and George Martin throw away the word count limits and just write, each of their novels becoming an epic fantasy that’s a sea of words.
So where do you stop? There are some publishing firms that only want stories of a certain length, they don’t want to be reading hundreds of thousands of words. Don’t want something they have to trawl through. So are people writing to a certain word count? I know I don’t.
A lot of my stories are short. Not because I am looking to keep my stories short; it’s because it is what I write better. I prefer to keep things short and that’s something I will be sticking with throughout my writing career. I Do was my first full length novel – standing at 58k words. This was purely an accident. When I started writing it, it was a short story to go into a collection, but after some reviews on the editing, I decided to look through it. As I edited I found that I was having some more ideas about scenes and how I could expand so I thought I would add a few thousand words to it and that would be it. How wrong I was. Lines soon became paragraphs which soon became chapters and before I knew it, my once 15k story was now over 40k. And I thought that was it, but alas, I was wrong again. It soon finished at 58k and I marvelled at how I had been able to write so much. I haven’t been able to since.
But word counts are important and it’s something that authors need to keep a check on when they are writing their stories. Remember, some people enjoy reading short stories and look out for authors that write shorter stories. Some people enjoy a big read – it is a challenge to them. I’d like to hear your views on this. Do you write to word counts? Do you prefer to read/write short or long stories? Let me know!
That’s all for now thanks. I am going to try and add some more words to my new novelette (hoping to be a novella).
P.S: The word count of this blog post is 562 words.