How To Reach Your Goal Word Count (Before You Even Begin Writing)

by - June 13, 2018



You read that title right, I'm here to help you get that word count up for your manuscript. And yes, I have a surefire way for you to get that word count goal BEFORE you even begin writing the book. It's a combination of simple math and determination to reach your goals.
The first step is pretty simple. That book you've decided to write? Decide how long you want it. To help you with this important first step, I've listed here the standard word counts for specific types of books. Please keep in mind that I am mostly basing this off of YA to New Adult books, but this is easily customizable for any age range of book you plan to write.

For a typical YA/New Adult...

Novel: 90,000+
Novella: 30,000 to 60,000
Novelette: 7,000 to 20.000
Short Story: 1,000 to 10,000

These are just averages and can easily depend. At some point, however, the length does affect what your book is categorized as.

So, because I'm writing a novel, I'm basing the numbers I'm using off of that. However, it is very easy to change that for whatever word count you're aiming for.

Grab your calculators peeps, because we're about to do some math. (I promise it isn't hard math.)

So, for my example, I will be using Uprising 2, despite the fact it doesn't have a real title yet. I began this method with this book and it has been working out really well so far.


Step #1: Decide Your Goal

What is your goal word count? Is it 20,000? 100,000? You need to have this number ahead of time for this method to work. If you don't have an exact number you want to reach, make an estimate of what you wouldn't mind reaching. This is your word count goal and it is important. 

Have the number? Put it into your calculator and move to the next step. (My number is 100,000.)

Step #2: Chapters

How many chapters do you want this book to be? With a YA novel, the "safe zone" seems to be anywhere between 27 and 30, not counting a prologue and epilogue if you need them. At least, that's what I've seen. Every reader and writer is different. I have decided that all three books in my trilogy will have about 30 chapters, which can change at any time because I change my mind. That's how I work.

Anyway, because my goal word count is 100,000, I now have to divide by 30. I don't count the prologue and epilogue because they aren't as large and they are just added bonuses. I suggest doing the same thing. 

Divide your goal by the chapters and move on to the next step.

Step #3: Putting It All Together

Now you have your number. If you're like me, the number is really obscure. It's 3,333.333333. Anyway, I just drop anything on the right side of the decimal and I focus on the 3,333. This will give me the number of words I need as a minimum per chapter. I'm okay with going over my word count a little, so I use this as my minimum number. I try to stay under 4,000 words per chapter, though. But everyone's book is going to be different, and varying length of chapter size is also helpful to draw the reader to read one more chapter, especially if one chapter is long and another is short. 

This step is what helps you be certain you have that word count you want by the end of the book. Having extra is totally fine because you will be cutting and adding words when you come back to it in a month to edit.

Other Ways To Raise The Number

- Add more description. Don't go crazy overboard on prose, but a little prose is good. Describe the scene and really flesh out what the character sees wherever they are standing.

- Add more scenes. Sometimes, we could use an extra scene or two to help not only bring up word count but also add to the story when something's missing or hasn't really been shown. Show some more instead of telling us about what happened.

- Transport yourself. Be in the scene. Be the character. What do you see? How do you feel? Show the reader that. As they say... "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." This is true because if you feel nothing, neither does your reader. Let yourself be all there. You'll be surprised how much more you can add to the story when you're transported. Just don't lose sight of how your character would think and react, especially if they are the opposite of you. 



I hope that this post helps you with your word count. This method may seem a bit silly and simple, but it is overlooked. I wish I would have done it with book one because I would be a lot further along in progress if I had. But, we learn from our past mistakes and move forward. 



Have any tips for bringing up word count?
Please leave them in the comments.
Let me know if this post has helped you!





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27 comments

  1. This post is amazing, Ivie!!! Thank you! <3 <3
    I really need to do this for my current WIP. I tend to write a LOT of dialogue, so going back and fleshing out each scene/descriptions/etc. will help me to increase word count. :D
    thank you! I'm definitely bookmarking this post. :) <3

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    1. You're welcome! I'm so glad this is helpful. I wasn't sure if it was a bit corny or silly because it's really simple, but I've found it to be helpful, even in the editing stages, to have that word count goal for each chapter. :D

      <3

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  2. Great post, Ivie! Thank you so much! I’ve been trying to figure out how to raise the current word counts of two of my books (because I write them super short). I should probably go back and add some major description to them. And I’ll definitely use the math idea for my Camp NaNo Novel! Thanks again for posting this!

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you found this helpful! You can do it!!

      <3

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  3. What a neat post, Ivie! Length is something that can be so hard to get, but this outlining before you starts is a really helpful technique to get closer to a reasonable target. I'll definitely be using this method in the future. Thank you for another wonderful post!

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    1. Thanks!!

      Length is always something I struggle with and figured it was time to come up with a technique to nip it in the bud. I'm so glad you found this helpful. :D

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  4. This is awesome! Personally, I've been trying not to set goals for how long my books are going to be, just having an aim and going for it...I was convinced that book two of my fantasy series was going to be less than 80k because I had no idea what was going to happen, but joke's on me...it ended up at 130k. So. Evidently I know nothing xD This shall be super helpful in future though, I'm sure!!!

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    1. We all work in different ways and this is something I personally struggle with when I don't set a length, but GIRL TEACH ME YOUR WAYS, OH MY THOR HOW DO YOU WRITE THAT MANY WORDS?? THAT'S EPIC!!!

      Ahem, pardon my outburst. XD I NEEDS your book on my shelf asap. XD anyway, I'm thinking you've got the word count part down. XD

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  5. Ivie! This is INCREDIBLY HELPFUL! Thanks sooooo muchhhh!

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    1. You're welcome! I'm glad you find this helpful!! <3

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  6. I tend to never know how long my books are going to be, but maybe I should try this.

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    1. Yeah, same. I have a harder time with how long. Like, I want it to be novel length, but sometimes I can't get the wordcount up where I need it. XD

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  7. Sadly, I can't plan for writing with a chapter by chapter outline (I tried a number of times, but it really seems to constrict me). I've never had a problem reaching a high word count for my stories.

    BUT

    That being said...I'm editing...and that means taking out a lot of stuff. I might try applying this to my trilogy as I edit, just to make sure I don't drop that word count down too far!

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    1. No, not a chapter outline. Just a word count goal for each chapter is what I meant. So like, if you're writing a book with 90,000 words as your minimum goal, and you wanted to have, like, 28 chapters in this book (idk, 28 seems like a cool number, lol) then you would write the book as you do and try to reach a word count goal of 3,214 (rounded number of course). That's what I meant. I can't outline a book or chapter to save my life. XD

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    2. So like, if you aren't sure what numbers you want, just throw a random number out there. That's all. Hopefully that clear it up. :)

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    3. I don't even plan chapters. XD The last novel I wrote, Words of Peace, I didn't even include chapter headings or anything. Just kept writing, with only scene breaks. I /do/ plan to add the chapters later, lol

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Haha, lol. <3

      I actually remodeled the subscribe button today because it wasn't coming up on the blog. It expired or something like that. (I'm being cheap and refuse to pay for unlimited subscribe button. XD So I have to keep going back and restarting it when it expires. XD)

      Thank you! Your support means the world to me. <3

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  9. I finally did it, Ivie. I finally hit that email subscription button;)

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  10. Great post, Ivie!
    I have no idea if my book will be a novel or a novella, I want it to be a novel though, so this is super helpful! <3

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    1. So glad you found this helpful! I can't wait to see if it'll be a novel or novella. I know it'll be amazing either way! <3

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  11. If I manage to make myself cry during writing, my readers are going to sob, bawl and weep the whole nine yards. I. Don't. Cry. In. Movies. Or. Books. Hardly ever. It is a rare occasion. My friends who wept in Finding Dory, I have no idea how in the world they got to that point... Although I do have extreme emotions going through me when I write. Sometimes I get up and am just so sad because my character was beat up.
    This is totally random, but as of right now, I thought somebody or something just fell apart because there was the loud noise of moving furniture and the house shook.
    I liked this post!!! Although... I have the opposite problem. What do you do when your book is 180,000+ words??? Cut back... and it's so hard!!!!!!!!!!!!
    astoryspinner.blogspot.com

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    1. Sorry. I replied further below to your comment. XD

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  12. This is a great post for fleshing! And is what I did for NaNo. I always thought over 50k was a novel? Most of my "novels" are between 70-80k. No where near 90k...

    keturahskorner.blogspot.com

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    1. I think length depends on a person as well such as how long they want their book to be or what they feel is best.

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  13. Yeah, I usually don't cry in books and movies either, though httyd 3 has the potential to make me cry. 😂

    I've never had an issue with cutting back words, so I don't know.😂😂 I'm sure there's a post on GTW. 😁

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    1. Whoops, was trying to reply on my kindle while sick in bed, but this did not work out. This comment was meant for Erica. XD

      Delete

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