Tucson's picture
Tucson from Belgium is reading Late Essays - J.M. Coetzee April 2, 2015 - 11:30pm

Very often, writing competitions or just regular submissions require a certain word count ranging from 250 to 25 000 words. I find it very hard to write to/with.

How do you cope with this? Do you just write ad lib and edit down to e.g. 500 or do you aim for that 500 from the start?


Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer April 3, 2015 - 7:03am

I do both so that I can pace the story evenly. I don't want to be moving along and all of the sudden think "Crap, I have to end this in half a page." Since most stories have a sort of three act structure, even in miniature, I know I have essentially a third of the word count to set things up, a third to complicate things, and a third to work them out. I plan on losing about 10 percent in editting.

Normally, though, I write the story and then search for a market that fits it. My natural pacing, as of late, seems to be right around 2500 words. The biggest thing is to stick to the word count that is listed. A lot of times, they request certain word counts for good reasons related to formatting or logistics.

If you miss the mark by quite a bit, you can always find a different market for it later.