Wednesday, April 7, 2010

WIP Wednesday-word counts



I'm up to 40,000 words in Desert Nomad. *phew* But the greatest thing that happened was yesterday when I outlined the entire rest of the story! I'm shooting for 75,000 words. My last manuscript was rejected by an agent for being too short: 64,000. She said, "I love this premise, but it's too short." *headdesk*

If I'm writing a science fiction space opera, for adults (primarily women-like women's fiction). How long should it be? Will 75,000 be long enough?

The first book I ever wrote turned out to be 116,000-way to long, and since then I've been so concise that I always end up a little short. Word count plagues me as I write. I keep a list of every chapter and how many words each one amounts to. I want to reach novel length, but I don't want to bore people with extraneous information.

What word count are you aiming for?

18 comments:

Alexandra Shostak said...

I always tend to be a rather sparse writer--my stories are plot heavy, but light on description, and a lot of the character development is implied through actions and dialogue.

I've also got the self-imposed task, now, of changing a YA novel to an adult novel. So the former was 65k words, and I'm aiming for 100,000 in the adult draft. I've heard that fantasy (straight fantasy, not urban or anything) any shorter than that isn't good, because it seems like maybe there's something wrong with the worldbuilding. I'm not entirely sure I can do it in this draft, I might hit like 85k, but there's more worldbuilding I can do with the next revision round.

I have no idea what's typical for space opera, but I'm super excited to hear you're writing one!!! Have you maybe googled the length thing? The way I found out about typical wordcounts for genres was just by looking around on google and blogs and writing websites for the information. Sometimes it contradicts itself, but you might be able to find some guidelines.

Christi Goddard said...

My finished MS is 115,000, but it WAS 150,000 before trimming. I think I'll have to come back to it after I get an agent with something else. I think my word count is scaring them. But it's Fantasy and 'they' say it can be as high as 120,000 for a first novel. Time will tell.

Congrats on your efforts. I'm starting Chapter 6 soon of my new WIP I started a few weeks ago. I've not written anything since Sunday, though. RL stress is always a downer for my muse.

sarahjayne smythe said...

I've gotten to be much more spare in my writing. My first novel came in at about 165,000. I cut maybe 60pages from it. It ended up aroung 103K. But I think my current novel should come in around 85-90K. I think that's a good word count to shoot for.

Theresa Milstein said...

I just read a post about word count this morning. Let me find it.
Here it is:
http://virginnovelist.blogspot.com/2009/04/five-things-i-learned-from-rejection.html

I write YA, so we can have shorter word counts.

Good luck - keep going!

Sandy Shin said...

For adult fiction, I would definitely aim for at least an 80k word count. Maybe even longer for since yours is sci-fi, which, like fantasy, may require more room for worldbuilding.

I'm definitely a sparse writer. I used to be wordy, too, but have become much too stingy with words in the first draft over the years. I'm writing YA fantasy, and am aiming for the final wordcount of 75k. :]

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Word counts baffle me! I'm shooting for 80K for my first draft of Overcome, knowing when I tighten it up it will certainly lose at least 10K. I have no idea how realistic this is! I look forward to reading your commenters' opinions. Thanks!!

Bethany Mattingly said...

I'm aiming for less than 80,000 which is hard for me because I love to write interesting bits that may or may not have any real place for the purpose of the story. I always over write. Congrats on getting to 40,000 words!

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

I'm so glad you came over to my blog to read the guest post by Erica today. It was meant to be!

Maybe it's time to add a subplot?

Valerie Geary said...

80-100k would work for me. My last manuscript Draft 1 was about 120k, but after I revised, it ended up around 88k. I just finished a new Draft 1 for a different book and it rang in around 95k. Even though I'm sure it'll change, I'm not thinking it will fluctuate too much. We'll see....

Cherie Reich said...

My first novel's first draft ended up being 98,000 words. It's a YA Epic Fantasy novel, so by the time I go through it and add things, change things, and all that, I still hope to be in the 90,000-100,000 word range.

My second novel's first draft ended up being 68,000 words. It is also YA Fantasy. I'd like for it to end up being a little longer, so I'm shooting between 65,000-75,000. So, I'm hoping it won't be too short.

I think it is rather silly to not chose a book based on length. If it is a good book, what reader really cares whether or not it is too short or too long? Based on people's attention spans, shorter novels might not be the worst idea out there. *laughs*

I think you'll be able to get Desert Nomad to 75,000 words. Great job at getting to 40k!

Melissa said...

I'm working on a YA book now. I'm currently at 41,000 words, but I'm aiming for around 75,000 when I'm finished.

Good luck with finding those extra words!

Talli Roland said...

I hear you on the word-count angst. I always tend to be on the short side - right now I'm at about 70,000 which is about right for chick lit (although still on the short side!). Good luck and keep us posted!

Summer said...

My current lit/women's fic MS will probably end up around the 70-75k range.

I think I heard that a mass market paperback is around 250 words per page, so a 75k novel would be 300 pages long. About average, I'd say.

Great job on the wordcount!

Lisa Rusczyk said...

Good job hitting 40k. :)

I try to hit between 60-90k words on a book. It usually ends up around 70k, except for the fantasy book I wrote.

Carol Kilgore said...

My manuscripts come in about 85,000 words. They're romantic suspense.

Congrats on 40,000 words!

Conda V. Douglas said...

I'm hoping that word counts will be more flexible soon, with the advent of more and more books available through e-publishing. Why? Because I remember what a famous writer (or agent) said about a novel's length: "It should be long enough to tell the story and short enough the reader is never bored."

Shelley Sly said...

Very interesting topic. I've written two books: One was 99,000 in the first version (but I'm rewriting and thinking it's going to be over 100K), and the other was only 60,000. I'd love to be in the 80,000 range, but for some reason I'm either 20K too long or 20K too short!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Well, I was shooting for a chapter book around 8,000 words, but I think it's going to end up a full-fledged middle grade somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 words. :-)