Friday, April 30, 2010

Tally, Tally, Tally, Get Your Word Counts Here...



When I started my WIP for a YA historical, my word count was 76,000. It was no Stephanie Meyer pound cake at 120,000 or so, but it wasn't too small either.

(And for all you Twi-hards or Twi-haters out there, read that as you like. 120,000 nibbles of sublime sweetness or 120,000 chunks of junk food, whichever you prefer. Maybe both.)

And then I revised and cut the first 80 pages and my count plummeted to 49K. I had no idea how to develop my plot and make it fit a higher count. Then I obsessed about word count, staring at the bottom of my Word Doc waiting for the numbers to fly upwards.

Now I'm back at 71,000. Apparently I'm in the sweet spot for YA. And yes, the number does make me feel better, but I'm more psyched about what got me to that number—a story with more flesh and bones throughout.

Here's what agent Colleen Linsday has to say about about word counts of different genres.

And Bookends LLC blogged about it too.

I'd love to see what word counts you guys have in your manuscripts. So, in the tune of "Lolly Lolly Lolly get your adverbs here" (am I dating myself with School House Rock? Heck yeah.) let's hear what your word counts are, whether they're at 7 words so far, or complete at 159,286.

33 comments:

MissV said...

I'm weighing in at 38,800 right now.

Oh, and When I read the little title on the scroll up on top I read "It was a Duck" instead of what's really there. Laughing at myself this morning...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My book, which comes out this fall, clocked in around 75,000 words. It was longer and it worried me when the word count began to plummet through editing. But I think it's a good length now.

Christina Lee said...

Mine are always somewhere around the 50 mark. So if you were able to add all of that back to get to the 70's that's pretty darn good!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Mine's doing a major yo-yo diet right now. It went from 82,000 words at one point, down to almost 74,000. I was happy until I realized it needed more description (my weak point) to give a sense of setting, mood, and emotional arc within a scene. Now it's inching up to 79,000. Eek! I have 100 pages left to edit (around 1/3 way mark). Hopefully it doesn't go beyond 80,000.

Crimey said...

At one point my WIP was around 110,000 and I deleted relentlessly and it's a lean 90,000 now. However, I expected that to change as I finish up this round of edits.

Jaydee Morgan said...

My goal is to hit the 60,000 mark but as I'm writing, it's going to need a lot of edits to get it there. I'm such a lean writer that I usually end up at least 15-20,000 words short of where I need to be on the first draft.

I really need to learn not to obsess over word counts - it's hard but I'm trying.

Janet Johnson said...

Mine is feeling way fat at 125,000. Need to cut!

Matthew Rush said...

Word count is very strange for me. My first draft of my first novel came in at 477,000 words. It's crazy I know, but I had no idea there were such restrictions on this kind of thing when I started out.

I've since cut it to 300,000 and am still editing, slowly but surely. If I can get it down to 250,000 or less I may re-write it into two novels. I so wish I was in the too low word count camp. It would be so much easier to just write more.

Today's guest blogger is The Alliterative Allomorph!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Congratulations on hitting the sweet spot and doing it with words that psyche you out. That's awesome. =o)

A paranormal I just finished was around 96K, and the speculative I went back to polish is sitting at 92K. Not bad for genres that usually sit between 80-100K. We'll see what the paranormal looks like after I shred it and rewrite.

Lee said...

My book, Swimming With Wings, (Literary Fiction) was 81,000 words. The most it ever reached was about 100,000, but I never really obsessed over word count. Properly developed characters and peaks in my story arc was more important. Of course, sheer panic would have set in if, after at least 100 rounds of revisions and edits, it had ended up at only 50,000 or 60,000.

Mayowa said...

My first hit 136,000. A spot of revision took it down to 106,000. I think that's not too bad for literary fiction. We shall see...

How painful was it to cut those 80 pages at first? Cutting hurts me bad...real bad lol

Mary McDonald said...

My book is a thriller and the word count is 88K. I'm happy with that. All the words I've written for it would be closer to...oh...140k? lol. But none of them were all in there at the same time. I've done lots of revisions on the beginning chapters. That scared me because I thought I was going to drop my wordcount too much, but then when I'd write the new stuff, it magically came in around the 88-89k mark every time.

Congrats on getting your manuscript not just at the word count that you want, but also where every word counts.

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Ah, that damned word count obsession! This morning, I cracked open the MS and found I'm at 53,499 - which lead to the usual frantic leap over to my Language Is A Virus word meter, which told me I'm at a refreshing 63%. BUT knowing I've got to write AND cut, the word count will drop again before it rises. The torture!!

Taryn Tyler said...

Mine's somewhere around 180,000 right now. Too long but I'm still on my first run of revision so I'm not too concerned.

Emily Ann Benedict said...

Congrats on reaching a happy word count! :)

I'm around 90,000 on the ms I'm editing right now, which just outright thrills me. It's a decent number for adult mystery, but the best part is it's about 30,000 words longer that most of my books. Mine are usually too short and I end having to find a way to add on. The fact that this one just came up right makes me happy...and actually really suprised. ;)

I've heard YA fiction does usually call for a shorter wc, which suprised me when I looked over at Twilight. :P

Christine Fonseca said...

My novels usually land between 55 and 65K - that is just my sweet spot!

Elle Strauss said...

I usually land around the 60k mark for YA.

the cautionary tale said...

Love the school house rock nod!!!

Mine has yo yoed in the 80s range but always seems to land around the 88-89 range.It's a paranormal romance so I think it will be fine!

Talli Roland said...

Word counts always stress me out but I usually seem to end up in the right region. For chick-lit, I think it's around 70k to 100k generally.

Have a great weekend Lydia!

lbdiamond said...

I'm at 68,000...was at 75,000. Still within normal limits, I suppose. But the words are a lot better, LOL! :D

Tahereh said...

hmmm great question! (and congrats on your editing success!)

my first ya urban fantasy is horribly long at about 125k. my second attempt at urban fantasy is about 78k. my third novel, edgy YA, came in at 55k. my 4th YA (with a hint of paranormal, currently on submission) is about 52k, and my last novel, a YA paranormal romance, is complete at about 65k.

lol. i know that's a lot of numbers.

did that help at all?

i think even at 76k you'd be fine!

best of luck with everything!! :D

Sandy Shin said...

Congrats on the successful edit! I think you're amazing to be able to cut out 80 pages! 71k is definitely a good length -- it's perfect for adding or subtracting a few thousand words and still be within the sweet spot for YA. :)

I have some hand-written pages I haven't typed up yet, but I think I am roughly 4-5k into my new WiP, which is very little, but I do hope to have a complete novel written by the end of summer. *is optimistic*

Sandy Shin said...

P.S. I've tagged you in my latest post here. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

My word count is around 73k right now. I still have some cutting and some adding to do :)

Lydia Kang said...

Thanks for all the well wishes on how my WIP is, but actually...I'm not done revising yet! Gack.
I have a feeling it'll actually shrink down a little. Keep the comments coming! It's so great to hear from everyone!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

My chapter book is around 10,150 w/ a few revisions remaining.

Have a great weekend, Lydia! :-)

Jemi Fraser said...

Me again - I've tagged you over at my blog today :)

Amanda J. said...

My current WIP is sitting right around 15k and I think it'll probably be in the 60-75k range when it's finished (but I'm only on the first draft right now). :)

beth said...

For me, my rule of thumb is always to cut between 5 and 10k words from my finished first draft. That usually puts me around 65k at the end, but with my most recent work, it put me just over 80k (it was OK to be a bit longer with my YA as it was sci fi). It's grown through edits, but oh well!

Olivia Carter said...

I'm at 30,000 words in my YA & I'm a little less than 1/2 way. I have no idea after cutting and editing where it will be at but I think 70,000 sounds like a nice little spot!

cipherqueen said...

*winces* Honestly? I'm at 40,000- and trying to bring it up to 60,000 without throwing in fluff or extra jarring POV's (it's really obvious when I use them as a crutch). But the third book is in 7,000 and the rewrite of the second (yes, I scraped the entire nano draft) is up to 13,000. In a way I just focused on the other books...

Hopefully I'll start hitting 70,000 and 80,000 more easily soon... or naturally, I suppose.

Left you a blog award back at my home base. ;D You'll notice a few new things, too- let me know if you'd like some of the new features for your blog as well. :)

Saumya said...

This is so helpful. I'm writing women's commercial fiction and think it'll be around 105,000.

Congrats on your sweet word count!!!

Jennifer Walkup said...

Great post! I also write YA. I tend to write short first drafts and add a lot in revisions. My books typically end up around 65K when all is said and done. First draft usually between 45 -50K.:)

 
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