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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => The Craft of Writing => Topic started by: eecoburn on May 16, 2011, 07:34 AM

Title: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: eecoburn on May 16, 2011, 07:34 AM
Our friend Literaticat has posted a really helpful overview of typical word counts by genre over at her blog:

http://literaticat.blogspot.com/2011/05/wordcount-dracula.html

Seems especially helpful for those Blueboarders who are just beginning this journey, and trying to figure out where or how well their story fits into the kidlit categories.

 :hedgehog :hedgehog :hedgehog :hedgehog :hedgehog :hedgehog :hedgehog :hedgehog :waiting
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Emily G on May 16, 2011, 08:21 AM
Thank you for the link, really informative :)
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Saul Tanpepper on May 16, 2011, 09:36 AM
This is great, eecoburn. Thanks for linking to it. Word counts seem to be the one consideration many noobs forget (often erring by writing 100K++ novels). Yikes. I love how she broke down MG and YA to realistic vs fantasy and also provides ranges and sweet spots.
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: stacebee on June 17, 2011, 05:13 PM
Thanks for posting this !
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: HaroldU on June 17, 2011, 06:39 PM
Yep, I've seen that, and it's a good resource.
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: 217mom on June 18, 2011, 09:50 AM
Literaticat to the Clarification Zone, again!
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Eric Hammond on June 18, 2011, 11:23 AM
A good article. Thanks for posting.
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Pons on June 18, 2011, 01:31 PM
I've seen this before, but thanks for the reminder. I copied and pasted it into my files.

Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Allison on July 06, 2011, 05:46 PM
Thank you for the link! I have been focused so long on writing for magazines that I had forgotten what words counts looked like for novels. Actually, I don't think I ever knew there was such a range in word count.

As part of the National Writing Project this past month, I wrote a story that my group encouraged me to think about in terms of a chapter book. When I revisited the link after their comments, I decided that goal was actually within reach. :ladder

Yay! My new project for next year is a chapter book.
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: eecoburn on July 06, 2011, 07:11 PM
I love chapter books! Good luck with your new project! :goodluck
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Brenda Z on August 02, 2011, 05:53 PM
Thanks for the great link...   :thankyou
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: mswatkins on August 03, 2011, 04:43 AM
 :thankyou
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: jodyjl on August 03, 2011, 09:28 AM
A great link. I appreciate how Literaticat lists examples in each genre.

Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Susan on August 04, 2011, 06:17 AM
Thanks for the timely post--a friend of mine (like me, a writer of scripts for young audiences) just read me the (funny) first chapter of his first realistic MG novel. After I applauded, he told me the entire ms is 21K. I didn't say anything at the time, because I wasn't sure of my ground. The next morning, I spotted this post and sent him the link....
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: licensedsunshine on January 29, 2013, 08:04 PM
At a recent SCBWI conference, an editor told us that 500-700 words is great to work with, but use all the words it takes to tell the story. And lower numbers are the trend now. Hope that's helpful!
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: licensedsunshine on January 29, 2013, 08:04 PM
I should have mentioned that she was talking about PBs.
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: megsml on September 20, 2013, 12:38 PM
 :grin3 Thank you, thank you! I have been looking for such a list of genres and their respective word counts for so long!!!!!
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: arti-sonthalia on March 25, 2014, 02:01 AM
Thanks for posting this
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: G.R. on March 25, 2014, 02:47 PM
Looks like my "Sisters" WIP is right on the borderline between the top recommended length for Realistic MG and the bottom recommended length for Realistic YA. :yup

 
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: jessica-balseca on March 25, 2014, 04:12 PM
Great link. Thank you so much! I just managed to cut my PB MS from 915 to 585 words, today. I'm not in that sweet spot yet, though...
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: SarahW on May 29, 2014, 12:35 PM
It says 25,000 words is the lower limit for realistic middle grade, and it says 35,000 words is the lower limit for fantasy middle grade.

What if your project is somewhere in the middle like magic realism? Would this fall under fantasy?
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: HaroldU on June 07, 2014, 01:34 PM
Here's an editor's perspective on word count, from Elizabeth Law: http://www.elawreads.com/blog/2014/6/3/the-question-of-word-count-let-it-go-let-it-go
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Pons on June 09, 2014, 03:05 PM
I like this perspective. It's all about pacing and feel.
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: 217mom on June 10, 2014, 07:35 AM
Literaticat's perspective, as a agent i.e. seller, is enormously helpful and grounding. But of course it's important not to lose sight of the main event here- good story telling.
The first time I struggled with word count I felt like a bean counter, not a writer. I have since left the numbers behind, and use such only as a rough gauge. I think both posts- the editor's and even the agent's- are saying it should be a rough guide and not a rule.
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Mercedes Ortiz on August 12, 2015, 07:05 AM
Excellent article! Truly useful information! Thank you so much for sharing!  :love5 :flowers2 :thankyou
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: janna-urschel on November 06, 2015, 12:26 PM
Quick question about word count: when I do this in Open Office (because I'm too cheap to buy MS Word), it counts every bit of text between two spaces (includes single letters, articles, etc.). I seem to remember from some writing class long ago that literary word count excludes things like articles and is only "major words". When I list word count for potential publishers, which is it? Thanks!
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Vijaya on November 06, 2015, 01:23 PM
Every word, Janna. Only the title and byline do not count.
Vijaya
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: janna-urschel on November 06, 2015, 05:58 PM
Thanks! (I was hoping for an easy answer for shaving 40 words off a PB ms to get it to fit under the 900 word recommendation, oh well, sigh...) Rolling up the sleeves some more!

Janna
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Vijaya on November 06, 2015, 06:27 PM
Happy pruning. You probably already know this but here are a couple of reminders:
Look for adverbs and adjectives. Replace with strong verbs and specific nouns.
Also, look for the continuing tense and use the simple tense.

Ex: He was walking vs. He walked.  He was walking slowly vs. He ambled.

You can do this! And your story will be better.
Good luck, Vijaya
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: janna-urschel on November 06, 2015, 07:35 PM
Thanks Vijaya! The encouragement and tips are much appreciated!!
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Spence on November 26, 2015, 05:04 PM
Hope you all had a happy TG Day,

Besides the typical total word counts of a book, are there norms for number of chapters and number of words per chapter for MG and YA books?
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Melissa K on November 27, 2015, 06:29 AM
Nope. No norms at all. Well, maybe MG chapters tend to be on the shorter side. But that's not a hard-and-fast rule or anything. Just break chapters at natural points in the story.

Happy Thanksgiving to you too!
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Spence on November 27, 2015, 07:56 AM
Thank you, Melissa.
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: SarahW on November 29, 2015, 12:06 AM
I realize there aren't norms, though I just prefer writing/reading 1,000 word chapters for some reason. Even if the book is intended for Young Adults. I don't like when chapters read like H.P. Lovecraft short stories, if I'm not specifically wanting to read H.P. Lovecraft.

Problem is that means my books turn out 23,000 words at times.:/
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: SarahW on November 25, 2017, 05:54 PM
How would I determine the word count for a non established genre, or perhaps a really obscure sub genre within a subgenre? (Think something like Futuristic Magic Realism for Magic Realism.)
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on November 25, 2017, 06:18 PM
Since word counts are only a guideline, I'd go with the general numbers for fantasy. But really the key is to use as few words as you need to effectively tell (show) your story. Make each word count.
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: HaroldU on November 27, 2017, 06:24 AM
Since word counts are only a guideline, I'd go with the general numbers for fantasy. But really the key is to use as few words as you need to effectively tell (show) your story. Make each word count.

To add to that, I'd suggest you do some research in writing guides on what a chapter DOES. I look for it to have a shape to it, a beginning, middle and end.... It may have one or several scenes, but if it has several scenes they should connect to each other.

If you want to get a sense of what's possible, get some  books you admire or that were published in the genre for which you are writing. Skim through each of them and find the longest and shortest chapters. Then to get a word count, don't count word for word--count the number of words in 5 lines, find the average, and then count the number of lines on one page and multiply....
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: HaroldU on November 27, 2017, 06:28 AM
And while you are doing that, look at how those chapters, and other chapters in those books, are put together. How many scenes are there in each? What kind of scenes? How do they connect to each other? Does the chapter have an overall "arc"? If the authors take different approaches in how they put chapters together, which approach do you like better? Why?
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: karen-marks on November 27, 2017, 04:49 PM
 If you want to get a sense of what's possible, get some  books you admire or that were published in the genre for which you are writing. Skim through each of them and find the longest and shortest chapters. Then to get a word count, don't count word for word--count the number of words in 5 lines, find the average, and then count the number of lines on one page and multiply....

Great tip Harold U-- I was wondering how I could tell the word count for a Ya or MG I was reading. . .
good stuff!!
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on November 27, 2017, 06:22 PM
Sometimes you can find word counts on Amazon. Look for a Concordance for the book. 
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: karen-marks on November 27, 2017, 07:46 PM
Ok for instance I'm reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid,  The Last Straw and I was wondering with the graphics what the word count could be but I suppose the formula Howard mentions wouldn't work with this book.  I am not sure how to find Concordance or what that word even means :(   https://www.amazon.com/Diary-Wimpy-Kid-Last-Straw/dp/0810970686
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: HaroldU on November 28, 2017, 10:01 AM
You can often find word counts, especially for middle grade books or younger, on AR Bookfinder:

http://www.arbookfind.com/UserType.aspx

Search for your book title, and then if you click through from the search results to a specific title's details, you'll find the word count.

But my "formula" will work even with illustrated books--you just have to take the illustrations into account.
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: karen-marks on November 28, 2017, 11:00 AM
Awesome- Thanks Harold ~!
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Vijaya on November 28, 2017, 01:14 PM
And while you are doing that, look at how those chapters, and other chapters in those books, are put together. How many scenes are there in each? What kind of scenes? How do they connect to each other? Does the chapter have an overall "arc"? If the authors take different approaches in how they put chapters together, which approach do you like better? Why?

I think dissecting short stories, articles, and books has been the most educational tool in figuring out how they're put together. And another thing that's helpful is typing up stories to see what it feels like, the flow of words, etc. Esp. for picture books. Then you really see what's in the text vs. the pictures.
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: karen-marks on November 28, 2017, 01:45 PM
And while you are doing that, look at how those chapters, and other chapters in those books, are put together. How many scenes are there in each? What kind of scenes? How do they connect to each other? Does the chapter have an overall "arc"? If the authors take different approaches in how they put chapters together, which approach do you like better? Why?

I think dissecting short stories, articles, and books has been the most educational tool in figuring out how they're put together. And another thing that's helpful is typing up stories to see what it feels like, the flow of words, etc. Esp. for picture books. Then you really see what's in the text vs. the pictures.

Vijaia- How do you review books? Do you have a systematic way of analyzing other writers works?

 I have been attempting to analyzing books of various genre I'm reading as of late, when I started focused writing  in Kid literature -mainly I just read for pleasure, but now , I look at works with a new eye and you are correct -I have also typed out picture books to get a feel for how the artist has arranged the story and a over all feel for what the manuscript would have looked like with out the illustrations. 

There are checklists for writing and revising and other aspects of writing,  there must be a checklist for reading books. In your brief post you mention about 5 area's of focus- *scenes *how many *their connection to one another *over all arc *do I like it and why- Today I was  thinking of starting a journal and taking notes about books I'll the books I  read but then I thought ok I would prob have two sentence comments- I loved that book- I didn't care for that one, but that doesn't help me improve my writing.  I thought about those who read books and evaluate them there are plenty of websites that do that, so maybe I can look at these review blogs and get an idea of what aspects they highlight and develop my attention in these area's and have my own checklist to consult when I read PB-MG-or YA books--

Recently I read Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voit.   Dicey, a young girl lives with her Grandmother and is altruistic to her siblings like nothing I have read in recent literature- working a job to buy her sister piano lessons and helping her with school work.  The chapters were pretty short but each was power packed, driving the story forward, and although the subject matter was distressing (loss of the girls mother) Voit's clear writing POV and flow from character to character in the narrative I can only hope to create with my own work.

Thanks for all the tips~! I'm going to start my own checklist for review of Kid-Lit.






Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: Vijaya on November 29, 2017, 02:19 PM
Karen, I've gotten better at reviewing books. The only systematic thing I do is break it down scene by scene. If there's a particularly delicious piece of writing, I'll copy it down. By the way, a great resource is annotated books. Just look them up on Amazon. It's a goldmine. Ex; https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Eyre-Writers-Annotated-Classics-ebook/dp/B00LLOOSWA/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1511993951&sr=8-16&keywords=k+m+weiland 

Happy reading and writing and analyzing!
Title: Re: Great Word Count Overview by Genre
Post by: karen-marks on November 29, 2017, 11:53 PM
Wonderful tips- Thank you !