Why Word Count Matters
By Randy Ingermanson
I’ve noticed an interesting fact about my successful novelist friends.
Word count matters to them. A lot.
They may have a daily word count quota or a weekly quota. But they have a target.
When you have a target, you have a chance of hitting it. If you don’t have a target, you’re guaranteed not to hit it.
Word count matters because that’s what gets you to the finish line of your novel.
You can have all sort of amazing plot twists for your story. You can have brilliant characters. Snappy dialogue. A dazzling theme.
None of those will do you any good unless you get them on the page. As words.
A short novel is around 60,000 words. A medium length novel is around 90,000. A long one might run 120,000. An epic could go 200,000 or more.
You don’t pile up that many words without putting down some serious word count on a regular basis.
My friend James Scott Bell used to talk about the “nifty three-fifty.” The idea was that you sit down to write and you don’t stop until you’ve got 350 words.
That may not seem like a lot, hardly worth doing. But at least it’s a very doable target. I can drill out that many words in about 20 minutes at my usual pace for writing first draft copy. Even a slow writer can produce 350 words in an hour.
So a “nifty three-fifty” target is easy to hit every day.