Tag Archives: word count

The Novel…

…is nearly done.

I’m experiencing a little literary law of diminishing returns: the more I put into the novel, the harder it is to squeeze out a result. But it’s fine, I’m enjoying the difficulties, and that’s half the battle. I have arrived at this late stage of the game before and walked away, but the fact that I have no intention of doing that this time is a very good sign.


I have over 78,000 words in the bag, and am currently putting the finishing touches to Chapter 27, which – after some organisational changes in the way I want the story to play out – is now the penultimate chapter of Slipwater. I’m not cutting any of the content, I just think it works better as two chapters instead of the original idea of four.

I’m happy that I know what happens in Chapter 28, so all I have to do now is write it. I’m also fairly certain of the length of that final chapter, so my total word count for this draft should be approximately 84,000 words, give or take. At this rate it will definitely be done in the next ten days, or the next five if my speed dealer’s new stash has arrived.

So that finish line is in sight, or at least… the marker for the end of the first lap. And now that I’m so close, I guess the best question to ask myself is – why the hell has it taken me this long to get around to finishing it?

How Long is Too Short…?

The last week or so has been a little slower with regards to the writing of Slipwater, but I’m still moving forward towards that finish line, and that’s the important thing. I now have twenty-six chapters and 75,000 words in the bag, leaving me with probably four chapters and about 12,000 words to complete. At this rate I’ll give myself until late November to have this pass completed – or around Thanksgiving for you guys in the US – but that’s a pretty generous timescale.


One of my concerns about Slipwater has always been its length. At my current projection it will not break 90,000 words, and my thinking was that this would be on the shorter side of things. Of course, that is not the end of my journey. Word count is a fluid thing at this stage, and there is potential for it to move drastically once I go back to the start and beginning locking it all down, although I really don’t foresee that happening.

The acceptable length for a novel is vague and varies with genre and each publisher’s individual tastes. It also depends on who you are. Famous authors will be given a lot more freedom, and will be able to cut below and above these numbers, as they are at least in part, trading on their name and reputation. For guys like me, things are a little more strict.

Traditionally, 40,000 words is considered to be the lower limit for a novel, but it’s hard to see anything as short as that finding publication these days, especially as a debut offering. At the other end of the spectrum, anything approaching 150,000 words will likely see you struggle to find a publisher. And if you happen to write something up around the quarter-million words mark, well… I wish you the very best of luck.

There’s a chance yours may be too long or too short, but in between those outliers is a whole world of space in which most of us reside, and it’s extremely likely that you fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, so you shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about length. As for me, it would appear that Slipwater is right there in the mix, where it needs to be at the moment.

So, does size matter? Sure. But nowhere near as much as you’ve been told.