Or, why does word count matter. But before all that, a slight apology for the delay in posting. This was caused by an impromptu decision to go camping in the wilds of Norfolk, to a pop up campsite in Cromer. You can find the details here. It’s only open for August, but it’s a great location and Cromer…..Well Cromer is a bit down at heel and woebegone, but somehow wonderful. Well worth a visit. Ok, Ok back to the substantive issue, word count, why does it matter?
In many ways it doesn’t. You have a story to tell. You tell it. It takes just as many words as you need to tell it. End of story, so to speak. A good example is the short story The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. This was given to me by my son as an example of how to right economically and yet convey a great deal of information (he has a problem with the faux Victorian style of writing I am using for this novel). Reading it is quite easy to see that the story could have been extended into a full length novel, but I think that is to miss the point of Hemingway and his style. It leaves you wanting to know more about the characters and their story/history and perhaps that is a good thing. However when writing a full blown novel it seems there are clear guidelines based on the type of novel you are writing. If you are interested, here is an excellent article on novel length by genre. It seems word count is quite a critical factor in the commercial reality of a novel and authors need to show that they understand this to improve their credibility in the business end of the market. So no good writing the next Bridget Jones barnstormer if you need 120k words to do it. How am I doing? Well it seems Ok, as I am writing in both the historical and sci-fi genres where the readership expect a bit of world building and want to immerse themselves in a particular story and expect detail. Here you can go up to 150k without spooking the horses. My current word count is 110k or 112.5k if you include the as yet optional epilogue. I estimate that after the rather epic action scene I am writing, it will be time to sort out loose ends, wrap up certain key plot lines and leave others wide open as a lead into the sequel. So, I think that the final word count will be 120-5k. Of course, this is only the first draft. The next one may involve substantial rewriting, but I suspect the final manuscript will still be that ball park area. It feels about right to me. I don’t want to short change the reader. Ultimately I want him/her to join me on a much bigger journey in the next book which currently has the provisional title of “Manifest Destiny”. But more of that later.
See you next week.