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Great Word Count Overview by Genre

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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?
#31 - November 26, 2015, 05:04 PM

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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!
#32 - November 27, 2015, 06:29 AM
Twitter: @MelissaKoosmann

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Thank you, Melissa.
#33 - November 27, 2015, 07:56 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.:/
#34 - November 29, 2015, 12:06 AM

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.)
#35 - November 25, 2017, 05:54 PM

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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.
#36 - November 25, 2017, 06:18 PM

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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....
#37 - November 27, 2017, 06:24 AM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site: http://www.underdown.org/
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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?
#38 - November 27, 2017, 06:28 AM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site: http://www.underdown.org/
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 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!!
#39 - November 27, 2017, 04:49 PM

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Sometimes you can find word counts on Amazon. Look for a Concordance for the book. 
#40 - November 27, 2017, 06:22 PM

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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
#41 - November 27, 2017, 07:46 PM

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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.
#42 - November 28, 2017, 10:01 AM
Harold Underdown

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Awesome- Thanks Harold ~!
#43 - November 28, 2017, 11:00 AM

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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.
#44 - November 28, 2017, 01:14 PM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

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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.






#45 - November 28, 2017, 01:45 PM
« Last Edit: November 29, 2017, 07:51 AM by dinalapomy101 »

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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!
#46 - November 29, 2017, 02:19 PM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

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Wonderful tips- Thank you !
#47 - November 29, 2017, 11:53 PM

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