Seriously, are we all completely crazy? Us writers, I mean. Are we totally bonkers?
Halfway through the month, I’m well past my halfway point in my manuscript and feeling pretty good. My approach has been slow and steady. I make sure to write at least 1666 words everyday. Most days I exceed this, but I don’t give myself a day off, regardless of the previous day’s tally.
While we’re obsessing about word counts, let’s take a moment to review the standard wisdom about word counts when writing for children.
- Every publisher is different. Some have very strict ideas about word counts, particularly if they have hi/lo series such as Lorimer Sports, or Orca Soundings. Most publishers, if they are looking for submissions in these series will list their requirements on their webpage.
- The word counts for thousands of YA and children’s books can be found here. This is an extremely useful site that also gives a rough grade level for each book.
- 150,000 words is TOO LONG for a debut YA author. Period. 80,000 is about the upper limit for debut Middle Grade.
- Never add stuff like pages of description, to plump your word count. A book is what it is. If it’s short, maybe it’s a novella.
- If a book absolutely needs to be longer, take it back to character, then plot, THEN the actual writing.
- Never plump your word count by removing all the contractions. Unless your book is set in some kind of medieval fantasy land, this will make everyone sound like a robot, including you.
- If you need to REDUCE word count, the same rules applies. Start with character, simplify. Maybe two characters can be combined into one. Maybe another character’s pages of backstory can be deleted. Reducing unnecessary scenes about your supporting characters increases the focus on your main character, which is always good.
- Are all your long descriptions necessary? Many young readers skip over long descriptions of costumes, character appearance or places. If there is a key detail that plays into the plot, better to draw attention to it by leaving it on its own.
- When querying, don’t forget to include your word count, rounded up to the nearest 100
- Many agents and publishers will tell you how long a book should be. Apart from rule 3, there are no fast rules about this.