Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Words

The first draft of my current wip or b-nip (best selling novel in progress) is complete. Feeling quite proud, I hit the word count tool and received a small shock when the number came back at approximately 52,000 words. I told myself this one was tighter and took slightly longer to write due to compulsive editing as I went along. It’s also paced much faster, if a scene didn’t move the story forward, I cut it with ruthless disregard.

Of course, this is only the first draft and after a short time away I may come back to find a major plot hole that needs a little clarity. Where the hell did that character come from in the middle of the story and didn’t I kill him two chapters in? But even then I don't see needing more than a few thousand extra words.

So began the obsessive googling of published novels. Remember what I said on Monday about NOT googling story lines and just writing your story?

Yeah, well that doesn’t apply to word counts.  I discovered these facts and decided to share.


Wake (Lisa McMann) 37,000 (rounded up)
Fade (Lisa McMann) 46,000
Gone (Lisa McMann) 40,000
If I Stay (Gail Forman) 50,000
Hex Hall (Rachel Hawkins) 67,000
White Cat (Holly Black) 76,000
Sister's Red (Jackson Pearce) 80,000
Spells (April Lynne Pike) 83,000

Much Loved:

Harry Potter Books
Philosopher’s Stone-77,325
Chamber of Secrets-84,799
Prisoner of Azkaban-106,821
Goblet of Fire-190,858
Order of the Phoenix-257,154
Half Blood Prince-169,441
Deathly Hallows-198,227

Other Famous Books:

Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe-36,363
Old Yeller-35,968
The Outsiders-48,523
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-30,644
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer-69,066
Lord of the Flies-59,900

I feel a lot better now.

What are your thoughts regarding shorter word counts? If you don’t mind sharing your own, then spill it!

Information websites:


  1. Well, I'm a fantasy writer, and our writing tends to err on the longer side of word counts... :) But I think shorter word counts are great! However long it takes to tell the story, you know?

  2. MY WIP is landing at about 90K words, which is, as I understand it, about right for its genre.

    My question on word counts is this: I'm wondering what the e-pub wave is going to do to word count requirements. No paper production, binding, shipping, etc., so I would think this would redefine the "break-even" thresholds that are out there.

  3. My novel is adult speculative fiction. It clocks in at 110,000 right now. I just got whacked in the knees for not having enough world-building and fear my word count will rise again in a rewrite. But I think I gotta do it. Fantasy novels do have the tendency to run a little higher. If I can keep it under 120,000 I'll be happy.

    Big congrats on finishing your first draft. Way to go on the b-nip!!!

  4. Oh wow--those shorter counts are totally surprising to me!!

    Congrats on finishing that first draft :)

  5. I write at about 50 - 60. That always seems short to me, too. But apparently not! Congrats on finishing the first draft!

  6. I think shorter is great, if it's shorter because it's concise and nicely tied together with layered scenes (which it sounds like yours is).

    Congrats on finishing the draft :)

  7. Shorter word counts don't bother me (especially if it's only short because it's well written). My current WIP (adult paranormal) will finish up around 70k as a rough draft. Definitely on the shorter side, but then, it's only a baby--lots more work to do on it.

    I've also got a YA contemporary WIP that's sitting at 45k, with another 10k or so needed for completion.

    I'm thinking I write on the shorter side?

  8. Congratulations on finishing your b-nip! :)

    I think you're right on target with your word count. My current book finished up at 82,000 -- alarmingly low for me! I'm usually a notorious overwriter. But they want this book no longer than 85k, which I was stressing over, but somehow I ended up right in the ballpark. Go figure.

  9. Most of mine are under 50,000, those some projects are up in the 80,000...

    Honestly, I see no issue with shorter word counts, if the story is strong. When you say EXACTLY what you mean, and evoke in one line what some people take pages and pages to write... well... I think the one line is better. I like my books to be "tight". I don't want to write for length. I don't like long and flowery. I like blunt and punchy. I'll edit and take out phrases and words I don't need.

    BTW - that picture creeps me out :-p.

  10. Id like to invite everyone to read a blog post today of a woman who joined the old order Mennonite church from the outside. I'm extremely lucky in publishing her very first, and most likely last post on Amish Stories. A lot of work was involved in her getting permission to be even able to write anything on the internet, and permission was given by her bishop. So please stop by and read about a woman who gave-up her car and other worldly possessions for the person that she loved. Richard from Amish Stories.

  11. I don't go for too short or too long unless I'm already invested in an author or series. I write aroun 50 K myself (I'm a nano-er), but I've never really completed a full round of edits.

  12. Hi, thanks for this info, it can be tough to find 'word counts' on novels! I also just wanted to point out that on a different blog by a publisher, the word count of the Harry Potter's rose because of it's huge success, and the subsequent larger control of the author as opposed to the publishers/editors. So those enormo word counts could be more of a result of overwriting than anything else! Best to all ~


It helps to know I'm not just talking to myself.