Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Writing Word Counts

Word count is a huge topic in writing circles.
Short answer - Tell the story until you're done. For a standard fiction novel, aim to write 100K words or so and edit it back down to 85K.

Even though there are fabulous guidelines, every beginning author thinks they are the exception. None of us are exceptions.

I love short stories. I love to write them. I love to read them. It's like eating a bag of potato chips. Bag open. Salt, oil and chips consumed with gusto. Bag tossed. All without sitting down.
Here's my word count for my currently published stories:
Preparing for the Fiscal Cliff 5639 - nonfiction
My Mother-in-Law Misadventures 28554 - memoir
The Duel: A Von Crapp Brothers Tale 1364 flash fiction
Safari in the Mist: A Von Crapp Brothers Tale 9226 short story
Psychic Toll Call 841 flash fiction
Print Your Own Booklet Using Microsoft Word 2974 how-to
Seductive Murder 1885 flash fiction
Hunting August Moon 84021 novel

(All these links go to Smashwords, where the short stories are free.)
My word counts above include chapter titles, but don't include the Table of Contents, the required cover page and introduction or the final acknowledgments.
My first book wasn't fiction. Non-fiction should be seventy to eighty thousand words, but we wrote this book to meet a specific need. (The Fiscal Cliff still looms, actually. Shame on the government.)
For my second book, I compiled a list of short pieces I wrote when Darling's mother lived with us (for a decade). Still, the book is too short.
I published The Duel as practice. I don't recommend that method of learning to self-publish, but I left the story for the curious. It is free on Smashwords, though Amazon doesn't give me the same option.
Safari in the Mist was just as long as it needed to be to tell the story. That's okay, but at some future date I will compile all my Von Crapp Brothers stories into a single volume with a better word count.
Psychic Toll Call and Seductive Murder came from my reservoir of short stories written over the years, long before computers became useful for writing. As fun stories, I wanted them published, and I made them free (on Smashwords and on my blog site) so people could see my writing style.
Hunting August Moon took months of writing, and I topped out at over 110,000 words. After numerous edits, it dropped to 84,000. Hunting August Moon hits the sweet spot for novels. It doesn't disappoint.

<This is a copy of my blog post at my Author site.>

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