The post with the most hits on my website BY FAR is ‘Word Counts’. Clearly, we writers are a bit obsessed with counting them there words. . Funny that, how numbers occupy so much of our brains. I think three deep concerns are the drivers for this:
- Trying to ensure we’re a good fit for our genre
- Not wanting to leave ANY excuse for rejection
- Desperately wanting to know ‘Are we nearly there yet?’
Given that’s it’s such an interesting topic, I thought I’d dust off that old post and update it a bit….
Getting a feel for the right length of your novel is a puzzling thing. I know it shouldn’t matter – a story takes as long to be told as a story takes to be told BUT I do tend to obsess about it. I think I like guidelines – like to know I’m on the right track. So here are some for comparison – they’re my choice, books I love – some of them quite surprised me:
E M Lochart, We Were Liars – 50189
Louis Sachar’s ‘Holes’ – 47079
Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go – 112022
Sally Gardner’s, Maggot Moon – 31057
John Green, A Fault in Our Stars – 65752
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games – 99750
David Almond’s ‘Skellig’ – 31202
Michael Morpurgo’s ‘Private Peaceful’ 46316
Francesca Simon’s ‘Horrid Henry’ between 5,000 and 7,500
J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone’ – 77325
Pat Walsh, The Crowfield Demon – 75652
Anthony Mcgowan, Hello Darkness – 47426
Philip Reeve & Sarak McIntyre, Oliver and the Seawigs – 17544
Strange how similar they feel in story weight – The Hunger Games didn’t feel like it was 3 times as long as Maggot Moon!
If I’ve listed your book, do feel free to dispute my word counts – I didn’t actually count them all myself – I’m not that desperate for procrastination tools…although….
I take requests, name your book and I’ll do my best!
Kathryn Evans is the author of More of Me. She’ll be appearing at YAShot on 22nd October 2016. If you enjoyed More of Me, please vote for it in the EdBookFest first book award You have until the middle of October. Thanks!
10 thoughts on “More Word Counts by Kathryn Evans”
How about something like Raymond E. Feist’s Magician?
Sadly, it’s not in the caatalogue – sorry – have a go for your self here: http://www.arbookfind.co.uk/
So now you’ve peaked my interest. How did you come up with those word counts. Do you have a minion chained to you bookshelves with one of those little clickers grasped weakly in his hand, begging not to be given Order of the Phoenix as his next book?
Ha! No, there’s a great website: http://www.arbookfind.co.uk/
Thank you for writing this item. I find that my word count is too low – constantly! I understand the idea of Draft 1 – 10% for Draft 2, but somehow my draft 1 is already so low it is scary. I do have a question, if you could find the word count for Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lusy Ivison, could you let me know, please?
Many thanks and all the best, Caroline
Lobsters by Tom Ellen is 77406 – take heart from Holes!
Thank you, Kathryn. I appreciate your help here. I find David Almond’s Skellig the one to take heart from, too. All the best, Caroline
Your idea about “story weight” is interesting, but a lot of it depends on the skill of the actual writer. If the text is an effortless read, then the book flies by. I’ve been reading The Lies of Loche Lamora, and although the idea is interesting, I’m finding it a real slog to get through. Compare that with, say, Feist’s Magician. Feist uses quite a modern writing style compared to many fantasy writers, but it works really well. He draws you in and that’s it… BOOM!… Book finished.
I think there’s something quite comforting about counting words – the increasing number as we write a first draft acknowledging we have moved forward and are getting nearer the end. In the rewrites the change showing us again we have achieved something. It’s an interesting point you make about story weight and I agree with Andrew; effortless text doesn’t feel as long as it is and even the shortest book can feel as if it goes on forever if we fail to be drawn in.
For some reason some of those books looked like they had more words in them. Some books look a lot thinner when you just see the amount of words instead of the book itself. Keep on blogging in a free world – The False Prophet