Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How Many Words is Enough?

I'm reviewing revising rewriting my novel and I know I'm getting close. I'm almost done; I can feel it. Right now I have 15,570 words. I know I need at least two more scenes which could add anywhere from 50 to 500 more words. But is that enough? 

Someone at a conference said not to worry about word count. Just make sure your story is told with all the words it needs--no more and no less, whether it's 6 words or 60,000. 

There may not be a formula for how many words it takes to tell a story, but I think a lot of times a stories end up with too many words. And sometimes they actually have too few. 

Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown: 12,192 words--I know I read this book, but I don't remember anything about it. So, do I take the word count of this verse novel into my stats if it wasn't memorable? Maybe it was too short to make a lasting impression on me?

The Way A Door Closes by Hope Anita Smith: 4,094 words--I remember this one, but I also remember that it was very short. Unsatisfyingly short. But it was still good. 

Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas: 18,547 words--This one was sad. Very sad. 




All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg: 15,158 words--Again, sad. And good. And not enough. The story was too cryptic and ended too soon. There were some really great characters and I felt like I didn't get enough of them. 









Keesha's House by Helen Frost: 15,469 words--I'm not sure this book had a plot...But it was emotional, and did a pretty good job at showing multiple characters. This book won a Printz Honor with only 15,158 words (fewer than I have already) and--AND it tells not just one person's story, but six. 








This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis: 28,326 words--Good, strong. This book delivers. It has strong characters, relationships, plot--everything. And it's got a lot more words than I think I'm ready for. But who knows...maybe I'll surprise myself?








Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams: 29,347 words--Geez, this book is heartbreaking. And it delivers everything--characters, emotion, plot, resolution. I read this book in almost one sitting (interrupted only by school or something stupid). It was fast, but it was captivating. 







There are a lot of novels in verse. Some that I've started and never even finished--not because they were too long, but because they weren't engaging. I want my book to be perfect. I want it to be just right. Enough words to engage the readers, build emotions, create relationships... I want it to satisfy with punches and heart-tugs and maybe even a kiss so that when readers close my book, they'll feel full. 

Maybe there is no formula. No set number of words to make a story. I'm glad there isn't, even though the mathematician in me wants that formula so badly. 

I guess I won't know how many words my story needs until I finish. Right now, all I know is I'm not done yet. 

Write on!






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