Tuesday Tip: On Word Counts

A couple days ago, I wrote a post for The Muffin for all those writers who’re engaged in November’s writing challenges. Mostly, I wanted to emphasize one point. To wit, if you’re going to put in the effort for a writing challenge, make those word counts count.

And that got me thinking about word counts and my own efforts. After a day at the Rutger’s One-Plus-One Conference, I knew I wanted to add a bit more of a spiritual element in my Young Adult novel, but even with those added words, I wondered if my YA novel’s length would fall within the publishing industry’s standards for contemporary YA.

To be honest, I’m a bare bones writer. I tend to throw out the descriptive stuff and get right to the action. Probably because when I read, I skip those long, descriptive passages. Unless, of course, the prose is so lyrical, so evocative, that I can’t help but read it. Truly, I don’t come across that kind of writing that often–and I’m nowhere near that level of skill in my own prose. So I just zip through with my dialogue and hope that no one notices. I wouldn’t notice myself, except that when I come to the end of my books or stories, I almost always think, hmmmm. That seemed a lot longer when I was writing it.

Anyway, I needed to check word counts for books. Maybe you do, too. You can read the Guide to Literary Agents’ post on the subject, or you can check out Literary Rambles, where Casey McCormick gives a fairly in-depth look at word counts for children’s books, and provides a handful of related sites for further research. And you can always go to Renaissance Learning and find the exact word count of a book (and other useful info) as I did for The Princess Bride.

And finally, I’ll leave you with this question to ponder: Have you ever noticed how, no matter what you’re doing, math finds a way to stick its nose in your business?

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10 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip: On Word Counts

  1. Ha haa! Stinkin’ math… my kids won’t be happy with you for that last little tidbit. 🙂 Thanks, Cath, I needed this information. Now let’s see if I can find a good place to keep it until I need it again!

  2. I’ve had a standing bet with the kids I teach for years. Find me any job that doesn’t require math, and I’ll let you skip today’s assignment. So far, no one has had a free day. 🙂

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