Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Word count? pshaw!

To you a word count is by the word right? Well to an editor it is the amount of space that the word takes up on a page.

"Take my wife, please," he said.

"Well of all the …" she replied.

Your processor will read the above as thirteen words. But in reality it is fifty-three characters with no spaces, and sixty-four characters with spaces.

I know a lot of wannabe writers who shrug off word count like an old rag. They treat it as if it is an unimportant part of the writing process. By no means is it the MOST important part of your writing. But it is better to get into the habit of it now while you’re still learning the ropes than to later realize the thing you tossed aside thinking there was no use for, was a much needed spark in the fire of writing RIGHT.

Writing right is essential. There is no laid back, enjoy sunbathing type of writing. Writing is a craft and knowing all of the ins and outs will ride you to the doorway of publication. Realizing that your machine/processor/computer is not going to do all the work for you, you need diligence to bring forth a story to its true beauty.

I could tell you to ignore word count all together but I’m sure that many publishers/editors would slap me upside the head.

"How dare you tell them it is not important!" says the editor.

"But the people in the workshops ignore me completely and do what they want." so says the mentor.

"Well then, they’re not serious writers, and certainly NOT seeking publication."

You see? It is important if you want to become a published writer. Sure, as you move along in the flow of your writing, you don’t need to stop and check word count continually. BUT if you have revised the piece ten times and are ready to submit, you better be prepared to give the publisher just what it asks for in the word count.

If they want 2500 words, don’t give them 2501.

Practice in your workshop. Be persistent in showing the word count to your peers. Let them know how serious of a writer you are. Bring forth your work into the beauty of the sun and AFTER you’re published, go bask in the sun.

1 comment:

June said...

And this also applies when entering contests!

Yes, watch those word counts!

Well said, Joni!

Take care,