***This one is going to be slightly shorter than my regular rants, but I felt that this topic warranted its own post.***
So, you’re a writer, huh? Awesome sauce! Are you an accountant too?
Okay, how about a mathematician?
Hmmm… Do you do anything related to numbers in your personal life?
Okay, well that was a little broad wasn’t it? The point I was trying to make was that you have no business mixing numbers with writing fiction. Even if you are a mathematician or an accountant or whatever, you shouldn’t do it. Numbers are irrelevant.
Specifically, word count is irrelevant. Too many writers get caught up in trying to meet a certain word count threshold. This, unfortunately, is toxic. People should stop googling what the minimum word count for a novel is or how long a chapter is.
Because it makes no difference. You need to focus on the story at hand. If you’re aiming for a novel, don’t get upset when you only reach the size of a novella. If the story is complete and you’re happy with it, then the size doesn’t matter. Wow, this article suddenly became very Freudian very fast…
I can hear you typing your questions already, so let me clarify. You must be wondering what exactly the length of a novel is. I know, I just said not to worry about it, but you’re going to worry about it anyway so I might as well tell you. I’ll tell you, but you have to promise not to worry about it. Okay? Promise…
Alright, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Remember that these numbers only matter for publication. Unless you’re publishing your story soon, you have no business worrying about these numbers. The story is what’s important. Numbers are irrelevant.
These are rough estimates and change according to the publisher. They are good as a rule of thumb though.
Novel: 80’000 – 110’000 words
Novella: 40’000 – 80’000 words
Short Story: Anything under 40’000 words
Epic: 110’000+ words
There. You have the information. Did it make any difference to your story? Did it affect your writing in any way? If yes, then you have a problem, my friend. If no, then that proves my point, doesn’t it?
You need to let go of your obsession with size. Size doesn’t matter. What matters is story. You need to focus on writing a good story with good characters. Let it be as big as it needs to be or as small as it needs to be. It ain’t the size of the boat that matters, it’s the story carved into its wood.
Writing isn’t filling a quota. Writing is telling a story. So tell your story. Forget the word count. Dazzle me with your skill, not your size…
Okay, I think I went too deep with the Freudian theme here… Wait…