Let’s Talk: The Writerly Word Count Sweet Spot

Hello Readers!

Summer is winding down.  It’s been a really long time since my last post, but the season has been so busy!  Lots of visits with family, son applying for jobs, driving practice, etc.; It’s been awesome, but my self imposed writing schedule kind of went out the window.

My Summer Writing Bucket List, here, details the plans I had, but a prison break which included a massive manhunt in my neighborhood forced me to switch gears in June as well.  I blog about that experience here (I won’t lie…It was intense).  Finally, I received the latest draft of an incredible screenplay one of my novels inspired, and gave my edits to the screenwriter, just last night.  My bucket list kind of fell by the wayside, but other incredible things took its place.

With the screenplay edits and prison break behind me, I am now free to focus once again on another work in progress.  And I cannot wait!  I have mentioned this here before, but I am a very “lean” writer.  I am envious of my colleagues who over-write and have to do massive cuts to bring their manuscripts down to size.

My writing process always finds me with the opposite problem.  My first draft is often a complete, albeit skeleton of a story, and I go back through editing to fill in gaps, embellish plot, and give more depth to my characters.  I will never be able to craft an epic saga.  I don’t think I have it in me.

This “lean” style of writing, I think, stems from years writing research papers in college.  Outline, get to the point, justify and prove your facts, cite your sources.  It doesn’t leave much room for embellishment.  This factual form of writing is something I did well, and enjoyed.  Writing fiction, however is a whole different ballgame.  Because of my affinity for writing research papers, I think my Writerly Word Count Sweet Spot will always be on the 50-60K range.  I have written longer and shorter fictional works than that range, but most often, that is where I end up.

The Writerly Word Count Sweet Spot.  This is different for everyone, I believe.  Somehow, though I have no scientific proof of this,  it must be connected to us as individual people.  The stories I want to tell are lighter, quicker reads.  Nothing really heavy, since I like to be entertained when I write.  Is that weird?

I posted about word counts on this blog before, too.  I think it’s really important to keep them in mind because agents and editors know what readers expect as far as word count goes, and what sells for each genre.  Works that stray too far from those norms may be problematic to sell to  the public.

Sometimes the storyline can sometimes outweigh the word count.  Think about all of the books we have read through the years.  There are always exceptions.  I try to keep that in mind, because, I believe in my stories.  I believe in my characters.  I don’t like to think that one of my book babies might not see the light of day because its count is a little out of the norm.

So, today, as I prepare to continue on with my edits, I remind myself not to fret about the length my story will end up.  I will move forward, making it the best story it can be, however many words that is.  If it’s a novella, it’s a novella.  If the plot takes off in a meaningful way and ends up longer than my usual Sweet Spot, awesome!  But I have to remain true to the story and characters.  And let me tell you, these characters really make me laugh!  I hope someday they will make you laugh too 🙂  That kind of enjoyment is worth a lot, no matter the word count.

Before I sign off, I ask you these questions:  Do you have a Writerly Word Count Sweet Spot?  Does it fit squarely within the norms?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your summer.  Take care, and as always, thank you for stopping by my Writer’s Block!  Enjoy the following video 🙂

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3 comments on “Let’s Talk: The Writerly Word Count Sweet Spot

  1. joylennick says:

    Hi again SMN This Spanish sizzling summer is dragging its heels…Phew! I enjoyed reading the above, as ever. You sound very busy, and what an exciting prospect is the screenplay… Do let me know how it progresses and what the film will be called. My sweet husband just brought me the juiciest, sweetest plum (chilled) and I’m tempted to write it an ode! Don’t want to sound mawkish, but the advancing years bring with it an appreciation of simpler things as time is precious..I know you share with me the pleasure of wondering what each day will bring, writing-wise, and one of the pluses of ‘scribbling’ is of not quite knowing what will emerge next! I seem to be drawn to writing more poetry these days, apart from editing, etc,, I look forward to your next blog. Best wishes. Joy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. madilynquinn01 says:

    Wow, a screenplay! That’s very cool! The prison break sounds scary, but also exciting 🙂
    I think my sweet spot is around 50k though I usually have to do heavy editing to get my fantasy novels up to around 70-80k which us industry norm. I like to get even my contemporary dabbles up to at least 60k, though I’m not 100% sure of the standards for that genre..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. smnystoriak says:

    Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate the comment 🙂 I think all of us writers have a word count comfort zone, and like you, mine is on the lower side. As far as the industry norm for contemporary, I have seen variable counts posted. Here is a really good article about word count. I like it because it describes ranges, rather that a single WC goal: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/word-count-for-novels-and-childrens-books-the-definitive-post

    Good luck! And thanks again for commenting 🙂

    Like

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