Thursday, April 28, 2011

"W" Is For Word Count

When I started writing, I obsessed over word count.  I panicked when chapters were too long and banned myself from moving forward until they were trimmed to a manageable size.  I worry about not having the 'room' to complete my story.  At times, I even catch myself going into earlier chapters and compulsively deleting, just so I feel better about my length (Thankfully, I save the original so when I come to my senses, no permanent damage has been created).

I can't say I've cured my obsession, but I'm better than I used to be.  I still run a word count for each chapter and keep a cumulative total for the manuscript.  But, I also understand everything at this stage is tentative. I anticipate cutting a good 30,000 words in revisions, which will put my manuscript in the average range for a YA Contemporary.

How does your word count change during the revision process?  Do you find yourself doing more adding or subtracting?


  1. I'm in the revisions stage at the moment and I'm painfully aware of the word count. What I find, though,is it tends to balance out. When I cut a scene, I invariably end up adding somewhere else. That's when I try to remind myself it's not about the word count, it's about good pacing.

  2. I say just plow on until you get to the end. You're too invested in it right now.

    I think you'll find once you've got the entire story down, it'll be far easier to cut unnecessary scenes, characters etc -- you'll have a wide view of the story then (plus, you'll not have looked at it for a couple weeks before you even think about that, right? RIGHT?)

  3. During a recent major revision I ended up cutting 5000 words but adding 10,000. Sometimes it works the other way for me as well.

  4. Here's to making it this far, congratulations! I have an award for you!!

  5. I pay attention to my word count, especially if it's on the low side. But I never delete content until the editing stage because I don't know exactly how the story is going to turn out.

  6. You made my best of A-Z list. Check out the post at the link below.

    InspiredbyLisa – Best of the A-Z Challenge

  7. To be honest with you I haven't counted a single word of my first novel so far, though I am still only 2/3 of the way through the first draft.

    What happened to your x,y and z posts???

    Duncan In Kuantan

  8. I watch it all the time,but during the revision process it's not a stressful. I think it's because I'm more focused on working things out and developing.

  9. Lynda - good point; pacing is key. I also think other people are better at helping us identify where to cut than the person who wrote it - at least in my case. I want to keep everything, but when others point out something is unnecessary, I usually take their advice.

    David - Sigh...right....but it is going to be REALLY hard for me. I have looked at it EVERY day for the past twenty months, minus a short break I gave myself for Christmas.

    Paul - I'm sure I'll be adding in the name of clarification, but I will have to cut more to make room for it. I'd rather cut than add :)

    Elizabeth - Thanks. Congrats on completing the challenge!

    Karen - Explain - what is this 'low side' you speak of....I have NEVER had that problem, haha. I'm always way, waaaaaaaay over!

    Lisa - Thanks for including me!

    Duncan - You caught me! I'm all blogged out and I could not come up with any ideas. Rather than spitting out garbage for the sake of posting, I decided to...hide....I didn't think anyone would notice. Busted....

    Holly - I'm hoping that is the case for me also. Yet another reason I'm anxious to begin revising.

  10. I'm always told I write too much, so naturally I have to cut them down. I have a problem when I can't move on until that one thing that I was writing (or chapter) is cut down to size right away. It's a screwy business, but what are ya gonna do?


Feeling kind? Leave me some love.
(Sorry to bring back the word verification. Just couldn't take the spam anymore.)