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DFischer 12-14-2005 12:14 PM

Word Counting
 
Most works of fiction are defined first and foremost by the number of words they contain. There are several ways of calculating your word counts, with various advantages and disadvantages.

The Processed Count: This is the number your word processor will provide when you ask it for a word count on your document. This is the quick and easy way to get a number, but watch out. Not all word processors agree on what constitutes a word or how to count them, and not all editors will agree with a count obtained this way. This method may also shortchange you, depending on what your processor defines as a word. It's usually best used as a rough guide.

The Counted Count: No, you're not going to count every word to get this number. You're going to count the characters in an average line, divide by six, count the number of lines on an average page, multiply these two numbers together, and multiply that by the number of full pages (and partial pages) to get the total number of words. Round up to the nearest hundred and voila! your word count. Because you're counting characters and lines, line spacing and font type and size don't matter. This is generally accepted as the standard method of word count calculation.

The Counted Count (short form): This is the easiest way to get a standard word count, but it makes a few assumptions. First, you're using a Courier-type font, about 12 point size, double spacing, and your margins are about one inch all the way around. This is standard manuscript submission format anyway, so it shouldn't be too much trouble. With this setup, you can calculate two hundred and fifty words per page, just the same as 'way back when we all used typewriters. Multiply your total number of pages by 250, estimating for partial pages, and you've got your count. You should get very close to the same number as you would using method two, with a lot less counting.

The following terms are the most frequently used in describing prose works, and the word count numbers represent generally accepted norms. Remember that most fiction markets set their own particular word count requirements, and they may deviate from these generalizations. Always check the particular requirements of the market to which you are submitting.

Novel: Generally any work of prose fiction over 45,000 words, ranging to about 150,000 words.

Novella/Novelette: Short novel averaging 7,000 - 40,000 words. These terms are often used somewhat interchangeably, although novellas tend to be longer, and novelettes shorter.

Short Story: Prose fiction of about 2,000 - 7,500 words / Prose fiction under 2,000 words.

Flash Fiction: (Also known as Sudden Fiction or Micro Fiction) Prose fiction under 1000, 500, or even 99 words, depending on the market or guidelines.


Taken from:

The Scriptorium E-Zine for Writers
ISSN 1492-949X

Editor and Publisher: Sherry D. Ramsey, mailto:sherry@thescriptorium.net
Associate Editor: Julie A. Serroul.

starrwriter 01-19-2006 11:38 AM

If your word processor doesn't have a word counter, you can download a free word counter here:

http://www.harmonyhollow.net/iect.shtml

MalReynolds 02-01-2006 09:40 AM

If you submit your work to FictionPress, they have a running talley on each story, chapter and individual thing you write in your stats section.

Mal

bethane 03-03-2006 11:30 AM

Thank you for posting this...I've been looking for the count/definition of various pieces of fiction, and now I've found!

nevergrowup 03-08-2006 06:22 AM

Daniel,
I'm really late getting to read the word count post. It's very helpful. Thanks for including it.
Cheers,
Gene.

Mridula 07-02-2006 10:49 AM

Thanks for this one! I've been searching for a general word limit for my novel so I have a goal to work towards (other than getting 1/2 done, of course!). It really helped!

mammamaia 02-15-2008 03:42 PM

it should be noted that the current optimum length for a first novel is around 100k... 80 to 120 probably
won't be tossed without a scan, but shorter or longer than that is more likely to land in the wastebin or
at the bottom of the acquisition editor's endless piles...

short stories seem to do best at 5k max, few venues having space for longer ones...

hope this info is helpful...

love and hugs, maia

Davisstories 04-22-2008 04:17 PM

I've submitted three novels, with two being published and never once was there concern about the work count. I think its a general rule and their just looking for a rough target. All three of mine have hit 90K to 98K, that just seems to be what it takes to get the story out of my head onto the paper.

Lin 04-22-2008 08:24 PM

I don't think you'd have much luck trying to flog a 45,000 word novel. That's really like novella length. (Which is another way of saying you won't have much luck selling it)

A 7000 word "novella" would also be an odd duck. LOTS of short fiction is at that length.

The count for shorts is odd. 2000-7500, but also anything under 2000? So in other words, any length up to 7500?

With anything between 1000 and 2000 in a special limbo?

Q Wands 04-23-2008 12:56 AM

The RCs have already consigned me to limbo so maybe I should keep all my short stories in the 1,000 - 2,000 range. :D

ArchAngel 12-14-2008 03:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DFischer (Post 21)
The Counted Count: No, you're not going to count every word to get this number. You're going to count the characters in an average line, divide by six, count the number of lines on an average page, multiply these two numbers together, and multiply that by the number of full pages (and partial pages) to get the total number of words. Round up to the nearest hundred and voila! your word count. Because you're counting characters and lines, line spacing and font type and size don't matter. This is generally accepted as the standard method of word count calculation.

Novel: Generally any work of prose fiction over 45,000 words, ranging to about 150,000 words.

Novella/Novelette: Short novel averaging 7,000 - 40,000 words. These terms are often used somewhat interchangeably, although novellas tend to be longer, and novelettes shorter.

Short Story: Prose fiction of about 2,000 - 7,500 words / Prose fiction under 2,000 words.

Flash Fiction: (Also known as Sudden Fiction or Micro Fiction) Prose fiction under 1000, 500, or even 99 words, depending on the market or guidelines.

Thankyou very much for that, i'll be sure to give it a try soon!

Daedalus 12-14-2008 04:04 AM

Moderator note: Please do not resurrect threads unless you have significant input to give.

ArchAngel 12-14-2008 04:14 AM

Sorry, didn't take note of when the last post was. I assumed, as it was at the top of the page, it was recent. Guess that's because it's stickied. Feel free to delete it though.

Sorry.

Daedalus 12-14-2008 04:25 AM

Don't worry about it. It's easy to make mistakes. I also forgot that this was a stickied thread, so no worries.

Daedalus.

gumboWriters 12-09-2009 04:34 AM

The word counting factor is an important factor which all writers should consider because there are many publishers who give the word limitations to writers.

sparta98 12-05-2010 10:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DFischer (Post 21)

Novel: Generally any work of prose fiction over 45,000 words, ranging to about 150,000 words.

Novella/Novelette: Short novel averaging 7,000 - 40,000 words. These terms are often used somewhat interchangeably, although novellas tend to be longer, and novelettes shorter.

Short Story: Prose fiction of about 2,000 - 7,500 words / Prose fiction under 2,000 words.

Flash Fiction: (Also known as Sudden Fiction or Micro Fiction) Prose fiction under 1000, 500, or even 99 words, depending on the market or guidelines.

What would it be called if it were over 150,000? Just curious.

Lin 12-05-2010 06:26 PM

Boring?

Daedalus 12-06-2010 01:13 AM

Hi, I resent that, Mr Robinson! I've never wrote a boring novel in my life. I have written four over 200,000 words, though.

sparta98 12-06-2010 02:07 AM

Yeah, I'd be dead before I made that many words...

Lin 12-06-2010 07:48 AM

Ah, well.... "unsalable"?

:-)

Daedalus 12-06-2010 08:13 AM

Not if you've your name made. Probably if you're a first-time author. There's always an exception, though.

Finished my latest one this weekend, Lin. 201,000. 500 6x9 pages. I got a reply from LSI, by the way. Hell of a lot of paperwork to fill out, though. I think Createspace will be as cheap and a lot less time-consuming. A lot more work involved than Lulu, though, but the latter's a bitch in terms of price.

Lin 12-06-2010 08:52 AM

Sounds about right. Lulu is not that workable for like, pro publishing.

The only thing I'd say is that once you get LSI lined-out, you're set up to pump other titles through, and at a lower unit cost.

And of course, there's also Kindle and SmashWords.

L. Ai 06-22-2011 10:44 AM

I can't thank you more than once for this explanation! >:( That "Thanks" button needs to show up another ten times!

My word counter likes to count a's and the's and of's, and the like, and I don't, but I'm not clever enough to figure out another way. And apparently too stupid to think of googleing it XD. This is supremely helpful, THANK YOU thank you thank you.

katrine 07-11-2011 09:49 PM

thanks alot for posting this..i have been searching for word count ..is this helpful for online copywriter?

Jihn Xenil 02-19-2012 08:18 PM

I do like setting goals for myself a lot....

My writing goals for plots are

3,000 +
21,000 +
46,000 +

Michaelj 03-18-2012 11:43 AM

Thank you for posting this, always wondered..

sparta98 03-19-2012 01:57 PM

<3 This is the post that never dies.

Lin 03-20-2012 09:58 PM

This is the post that dies a thousand times each day.

Amanda786 12-03-2012 05:26 AM

That's great! I would like to give it a try soon.

King 02-16-2013 08:54 AM

Thanks for posting this. I always was curious about what defined a novel and novella.


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