Happy Fourth! Hope you had lots of great food, company and fireworks. We just saw our local fireworks from our backyard. Very nice.
I finally got some more writing done today, and here’s my daily word count:
Current word count: 9,240
Words written today: 787
Words to goal: 30,760/ 350 per day til end of September
I’ve changed the final word count, which I was planning to be around 50,000 for a middle grade novel. 50K is lower than my first novel, which is 60,000. Now, that 60K fit right in the correct range for middle grade novels that I had researched when I was writing the book. Back then, I had found articles that said a middle grade novel should be up to 65,000, so I thought I was quite good at 60K. Apparently not.
Recently, I’ve read in a couple places that the word counts wanted for middle grade novels are between 20,000 and 50,000. Here’s a post from June on the blog Pursue Your Writing Dream, entitled Writing for Kids: Middle Grade Novels. And here’s a post from the Guide to Literary Agents blog that cites agent Michelle Andelman as saying the correct word count for a middle grade novel is 20,000 to 40,000.
It seems as though my old research is showing its age.
Now, there’s something to be said for writing as much as you need to tell the story, and I know that some agents don’t stick to these guidelines too severely. But, we have to remember that this is a business. And, especially for new writers, it can’t hurt to make our books as tight as possible.
Let’s face it, for many of us writers — ok, probably all — we think all our words are golden. But, as hard as it is to cut some great piece of writing that we’re so proud of, if the story doesn’t need it, it shouldn’t be in there. First and foremost, we writers are storytellers, and the story should be the most important thing. If the average middle grade novel is in the 20K to 50K range, then the average good story for that age group should be able to be told within that range.
Are there exceptions? Always. Each of the subsequent Harry Potter books get farther and farther away from 50K.
But again, for new writers, it doesn’t hurt — and probably helps — to rein in the writing and concentrate on story. And that doesn’t mean we can’t also have great writing. It just means, tell a tight story in just the right words. Tell a tight story first, then find make the writing great in the revision.
So, there’s the challenge. And now, although I had been aiming for a 50K MG novel, I’ve now lowered that to 40K. Cut 10% or so in the revision and I should be right smack in the right range.
How are you guys doing with your daily word counts?
Anyone else find out you’re off the average manuscript length?