Ah, the written word. I spring from my bed each day, eager to finish the morning’s necessities so that I can continue writing where I left off the night before. I press the computer’s on button with trepidation, fearful that my characters may have become a bit miffed with me for leaving them hanging or in dire straits while I comfortably slept the night away.
Before we go any further I would like to state for the record that I am not psychotic–that’s my other personality, Bob, and he’s afraid of what everyone thinks of him. Me, I don’t care if the little book boogers have an ax to grind or not. Right now, it’s time to get to work.
As I reach for the first key, I glance at the lower left-hand corner of my monitor to check the word count. I pause. Why would I do such a thing? I am confounded at my own thoughts; not to mention, the heckling I receive from my book-bound characters who are now threatening union violations possibly leading to a strike.
“Just try it,” I say. “You’ll never work in this book again.” There, that’ll keep’em quiet for a while.
Now, back to my original question–why such interest in the word count? Could it be that the commercial entities who control the business demand that it be so? I answer my own question with an emphatic, “yes.”
Amidst the grunts and grumbles of my pint-sized page walkers, I delve deeper into the word count conspiracy.
It seems that first and foremost the novel stands alone. Word count can vary anywhere between 55,000 to 125,000 depending on which genre you are writing. War and Peace was an astounding 561,304 words. I’m surprised Tolstoy’s not still writing.
Next the novella will range from 20,000 words to 55,000 words. “Excuse me one moment please.”
“Shut up, you little comic book rejects! Keep it up and I’ll see to it that you end up at the bottom of a slush pile on some editor’s desk in outer Mongolia.”
Sorry about that, my precious little ones are now demanding a raise.
We now have the novelette or long story, if you prefer. We’re talking 7,500 to 20,000 words.
The short story; 2, 500 to 7, 500 words.
The short, short story; up to 2, 500 words.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, up pops another category–flash fiction. This class of literature contains as few as 2 words or as many as 150.
I can’t resist looking in the lower left-hand corner of my monitor. The number tells me that if I were writing this newcomer to the literary stage, I would have nearly completed 230 pieces by now.
“Uh oh, here comes Bob and he’s lookin’ some kinda mad. Now you’re in for it you little pulpwood ingrates.”
“See you next week; I’m outta here.”