Friday, October 1, 2010

The Word Count Trap

Last year while revision my fantasy novel for the umpteenth time, I began to pay attention to the word count.  I did this because many publishers have minimum word counts for novels. For fantasy novels it is starts at 70,000 or 75,000 words but some places have minimum word counts of 100,000 words.

At the time, my word count was 50,000 words.  I found a place that required only 60,000 words so I made that my target since I had no illusions doubling the size of the book.

I managed to add 10,000 words by filling in missing scenes and revising the end so that I needed to write several more scenes.  This is a torturous process because I didn't want to add fluff but I needed add more words to make the publisher's minimum requirements.

Big mistake.

I say this because I recently I found out that my characters needed work.  When I started fleshing them out more I suddenly discovered an untapped source of material.  Their reactions and comments and fears and goals and hopes and dreams to events and information already in the book has added lots of words and pages. More importantly, it has been the story far more interesting. I am finally reading my own and saying, "Damn that's good!" and "Oh, I guess I know more about character x than I thought."

So if you are looking for things to say in your stories look no further than your characters.  I'll bet you'll find all the words you need from them.

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