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Stressing about word count (1 Viewer)

Ajoy

Senior Member
So, I'm currently working on the second draft of my WIP. This revision involves me rewriting the first fifty pages or so as well as adding a few scenes throughout. Some of it will involve replacing content from the first draft, but I am fairly certain my word count is going to actually increase between these drafts based on what I know needs to happen. The WIP involves two different storylines coming together. One is high fantasy, so there is a fair bit of context needed.

Aside from tightening the dialogue and removing redundancy, are there strategies I can employ or keep in mind to help me reduce the overall word count of the story AS I move forward with revisions?

It's currently at 130K, and based on advice here and online, it sounds like it needs to be no longer than 110K.

Thanks! :)
 

SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
So, I'm currently working on the second draft of my WIP. This revision involves me rewriting the first fifty pages or so as well as adding a few scenes throughout. Some of it will involve replacing content from the first draft, but I am fairly certain my word count is going to actually increase between these drafts based on what I know needs to happen. The WIP involves two different storylines coming together. One is high fantasy, so there is a fair bit of context needed.

Aside from tightening the dialogue and removing redundancy, are there strategies I can employ or keep in mind to help me reduce the overall word count of the story AS I move forward with revisions?

It's currently at 130K, and based on advice here and online, it sounds like it needs to be no longer than 110K.

Thanks! :)

One thing I focus on when I'm trying to cut back are the -ly words (i.e. happily, suddenly, smartly, etc.). But I do have to ask, who told you what you were writing had to be 110K words or less? Is this a book?

Sue
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
One thing I focus on when I'm trying to cut back are the -ly words (i.e. happily, suddenly, smartly, etc.). But I do have to ask, who told you what you were writing had to be 110K words or less? Is this a book?

Sue

Good idea with the -ly words.

As far as word count goes, there is an article linked in the publishing discussion threads that gives a range for different genres. The upper range for fantasy is listed as 110K. This matches some of what I can find when searching myself. I know this is down from previous years, where my 130K would have been within the limits (an old range I saw gave 150K as an upper for fantasy). Honestly, I think 130K is appropriate and works for the story I'm telling (it is a full length novel), but... I don't want to be in a position where agents won't even look past the high word count. :/
 

Riptide

WF Veterans
If your story is a high fantasy... they usually run long. Sci/fi, fantasy, you got a little more leeway with what publisher look for. Of course, too, it's not like word count limits are set in stone. Your story can be how ever long it needs to be and if you really can't/don't think it'll shine with any more reductions, then send it as it is. You'll find a publisher to publish it either way. It might just take longer
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
If your story is a high fantasy... they usually run long. Sci/fi, fantasy, you got a little more leeway with what publisher look for. Of course, too, it's not like word count limits are set in stone. Your story can be how ever long it needs to be and if you really can't/don't think it'll shine with any more reductions, then send it as it is. You'll find a publisher to publish it either way. It might just take longer

That's helpful insight. I'm completely willing to revise it to remove filler and make it as tight as possible, but there is a limit to how much I can cut.

I have high and low fantasy storylines that come together within the main plot arc - the last third of the story takes place in a high fantasy setting...so yeah, there's just a lot going on. :) In my original draft, I only told a part of the story that my new first draft tells, so if I got desperate, I could separate it back out into two separate stories again. I just think it's better as a single telling.

Reading about word count, I just got worried about a hard and fast cut-off that would keep it from ever getting looked at.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Good idea with the -ly words.

As far as word count goes, there is an article linked in the publishing discussion threads that gives a range for different genres. The upper range for fantasy is listed as 110K. This matches some of what I can find when searching myself. I know this is down from previous years, where my 130K would have been within the limits (an old range I saw gave 150K as an upper for fantasy). Honestly, I think 130K is appropriate and works for the story I'm telling (it is a full length novel), but... I don't want to be in a position where agents won't even look past the high word count. :/

Are you trade or self publishing? If you’re self publishing WC is less important.
 

TWErvin2

Senior Member
Once you finish it, have several readers you trust go through the manuscript with a specific focus to identify what might not be needed. An author's perspective on their work may be too close or tied to a project to determine what is necessary and what is not. If you have two or more readers, if they independently point to being able to cut or reduce certain areas, then you may have something.

It was indicated that the goal is 110K and is currently at 130K with likely addition of words in the revision process. If it gets a little over 135K by the end of this round, it would mean roughly 20% would need to be cut to get the story down to the 110K goal.

Tightening up dialogue and removing adverbs won't likely lead to that much of a reduction. It would mean tightening up plot elements, or removal of a subplot(s) to achieve the goal.

In the end, it might require more than 110K properly to tell the tale.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
Are you trade or self publishing? If you’re self publishing WC is less important.
I am hoping to go a traditional route at first, but am open to learning about self publishing if that ends up seeming like a better route. It's good to know that allows more flexibility in things like word count. Thanks! :)
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
Once you finish it, have several readers you trust go through the manuscript with a specific focus to identify what might not be needed. An author's perspective on their work may be too close or tied to a project to determine what is necessary and what is not. If you have two or more readers, if they independently point to being able to cut or reduce certain areas, then you may have something.

It was indicated that the goal is 110K and is currently at 130K with likely addition of words in the revision process. If it gets a little over 135K by the end of this round, it would mean roughly 20% would need to be cut to get the story down to the 110K goal.

Tightening up dialogue and removing adverbs won't likely lead to that much of a reduction. It would mean tightening up plot elements, or removal of a subplot(s) to achieve the goal.

In the end, it might require more than 110K properly to tell the tale.

Thanks for these thoughts! That makes great sense to get some readers to share their opinions, once I finish this redraft. I am envisioning my third draft to be primarily word craft, since I am working out structural issues in this one.

And you're right - hoping to cut 20% with word choice changes just isn't realistic. If there aren't big parts to cut after reader feedback, then I think I'll just have to work forward with whatever word count it is and hope for the best. :)
 

Moose.H

Senior Member
I had 32K and the publisher wanted min 40k so I added three more really good chapters and hey presto, the book failed to flow any longer. I took the book back to original size and went on to create a second book from the extras. The word count will drop with cleaning up, but be very careful not to damage your book to meet numerical constraints.
 
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