The importance of word count in writingWritten By

Jerusha Nelson 

Words. You can mince them, mark them, eat them, and be at a loss for them. You can keep, break give and be true to your word. Something you might not do with words is count them; unless you’re a writer. But why? Why bother to count them at all? Isn’t the story done when it’s done? Word count be damned!

Word count actually is important on a very basic level – words equal space.

If you’re publishing an article in a magazine and have been given twenty inches of real estate on the page, you wouldn’t want to submit an article that clocks in at 350 words because you’ll barely fill have the allotted space. When you’re considering publishing your 450,000 word epic fantasy masterpiece you might not consider the word count, until you realize that a paperback copy is going to measure about three inches thick and weigh about 2.8 pounds. While it’s been done before and successfully, that’s a little hefty to lug around and it’s gonna take a lot more space on the shelf than 3 shorter novels. Fewer units on the shelf equal fewer units sold often too. If you self-publish you might not care, but if you’re shopping your work to agents and publishers, they’ll care so it’s another thing to keep in mind.

In other words, word count counts.

Sometimes writers struggle with the word count. Some writers struggle to increase their total word count because their completed story falls short of the goal. Other writers blow well past their aim and have to trim down their word count. We struggle to try to hit our goals of writing a certain number of words every day to reach our goals. This is especially true every November when writers across the world try to reach the goal of 50,000 words in thirty days (an average of 1667 words per day)

Luckily, word on the street is there is an easy way to get help for these struggles. All over the internet there are articles about word count; how to add, subtract, and multiply your word count. I’ve taken the liberty to scour Pinterest to find what I think are some of the best articles about word count. But don’t take my word for it, check them out yourself.

If your story is complete and you need to increase your word count, you might consider adding a subplot. If you do, just make sure it’s meaningful. Here are some tip on how to successfully add a subplot.

Want to trim down your word count? Check out this article on concise writing.

Writing for a deadline and watching your word count crawl across the page? Here’s an article about how to boost your daily word count.

Maybe you’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo this year and you’re looking for fun ways to boost your writing while socializing with your fellow crazies -um, I mean writers. Here’s a great source for word wars, sprints and crawls.

If you like these articles and want a single source to get to them all, I’ve created a pin board with all of them. Feel free to reference it and if you find other articles you’re welcome to add to it.

One final word about word count- while it’s important to pay attention to word count, the more important thing is to write the story that’s inside you and if your story is good enough, you’ll find an audience for it.