I’ll admit it: The letter K had me stumped. It’s the reason I’m weeks overdue for the Literary WOTW. Sorry, Folks.
I must also apologize for the lame word choice. Again, I’ve been seriously stumped. Although I’m open to suggestions for more worthy literary words beginning with letter K, for now I’m going with what I placed in the title.
What exactly does 20K, 50K, 100K mean to a writer? Until I delved into this world, I had no idea that writers depend on their WORD COUNT, not how many pages or chapters or scenes we’ve written. We set daily writing goals based on how many words we need to fill our pages each day in order to complete our stories by our deadlines. Did you know there are online word count tools to help you figure out how long your story is? Go ahead and Google it. I did.
How many words does one need in order to publish a story? While some agents, editors, and publishers believe that quality is more important than quantity, most agree upon a general amount of words… especially for new writers wishing to turn their stories into books. Also, keep in mind that word counts vary according to the genre or category of your novel.
Estimate word count at 250 words per page for a work of fiction but don’t get tripped up on the numbers. If you’re a new writer (as I am) my advice would be to research the desires of popular literary agents and publishers in your genre. Usually, you can find word counts on their web pages. As you write, edit, and re-write your drafts keep those numbers in mind.
So, here’s what I’ve discovered about generally accepted word counts:
Flash Fiction (magazine article): >1000 words
Short Story: 1000-20,000 words
Novella: 20,000 – 50,000 words
Novel: 50,000 – 110,000 words (although 70-80K being more acceptable for first time novelists)
At this stage of my game — nearing the end of my first draft — numbers don’t mean much to me. I’ve gone waaayyy over the acceptable amount of words; but I haven’t gone back to the beginning to make those first major edits yet. Hopefully, by this time next year, I’ll be much closer to the goal of 80-100K and much more ready to query an agent.
If you are not a writer, you may be wondering how those words get counted. Until I began writing, I barely noticed that my word processing program had a “word count” feature. Now, I can’t live without it. Simply because at this stage of the game, knowing how many words a chapter is helps me to make sure the one before it and after it is larger (or smaller) so that I keep my reader interested. Pacing is important to me. In yWriter – the program I use to create my novel –the number of words is listed next to every chapter, which helps tremendously as I decide what to keep and what to break into two chapters.
So, how about you?
If you are a writer how many K’s are you shooting for?
If you are a reader, how many K’s do you prefer to read? Short books? Long books? Or something in between?