Feb 9, 2011

Tell Me Your Word Count, Not Your Page Count

When you're working on a piece and somebody asks, "How far along are you?" it's easy to rattle off how many pages you have. That's probably what you're looking at when you're writing, and your single spaced, nine point font, twelve pages makes you quite proud. So you declare it.

But if somebody asks Max, he might say he has 81 pages. And you drop your mouth in awe. Max may have 81 pages, but he also may be typing double spaced, sixteen point font with two inch margins all around.

If someone asked Lucy, she might say eleven, which is close to yours. But perhaps she is writing by hand, and her handwriting is large. That might only be three pages typed.

How do you compare your progress with others? Word count.

Professional writers focus on word count and you should too. It's the only way to realistically compare the actual amount of writing. Word count is also declared in query letters; so DO NOT say pages.

Typically, a novel is usually between 60,000 and 100,000 words, depending on the genre of the writing. Short stories are roughly under 10,000 words. Anywhere in between, you get into the novelette and the novella, which are kind of hard to define.

Long story short, know your word count. It's professional.

And even though Max says he has 81 pages, he'll be jealous when he hears you have over 20,000 words.

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