Word Count

Monday, January 4, 2010

Word count is something I remember about a year ago fretting over hugely. How long should my book be? 200 pages? 40,000 words? When do I know when my book is done?
Most YA books fall between 50,000 and 70,000 words, longer for fantasy. You don't have to worry a whole lot if your novel is on the short side (Hannah Moskowitz's debut novel BREAK was only a little over 40,000 words) or on the long side (many, many YA fantasy or paranormal novels are over 80,000 words).

My books tend to be between 50,000 and 60,000 words. If you participate in NaNoWriMo in November, 50,000 words counts as a novel.

Word count is not all that important. The most important thing is writing the best novel you can, then editing so that each and every word is absolutely necessary. Tell the story you love, tell the story that demands to be written. If your novel is too long, you can worry about getting rid of excess words in the editing stage. If your novel is too short, you can flesh things out a little more later on. Don't fret too much about word count, because there is no magic number. Really, when you're reading a novel, do you count how many pages there are? If you're caught up in a brilliant book, do you even notice if it's 200 pages or 600? I don't. The story is the main thing.

That said, when you do go back and edit your novel, if it's on the long side ask yourself things like, "Does the story lag at any point?" and "Is every part of this novel vital? If I cut this scene, would the rest of the novel be affected?". If you're novel is shy of 45,000 words, ask "Where could I flesh the story out further?" and "Are all the characters and plotlines properly developed? Are there scenes missing that would add to the story?"

Do you have any thoughts to add on word count? And how many words long is your novel?
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