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JOAN BARTH ON: WORD COUNT

August 23, 2010

There are 38,400 words in The Great Gatsby. I’ve been told I must have at least 65,000 words in my book.

After writing Part I of Wild Pigs in Snow, I was dismayed to find that it contained 19,467 words. I reread it in hope of finding places to fill in more details and thus add to the word count. Instead, I found I was deleting whole sentences and only adding a word here and there.

That’s when I remembered Sister Marie Madeleine cutting words and sentences out of my essays. “You’ve said too much. Say it in one word not ten.” When I would edit my work, even an item for our school newspaper, the QP News, I would strive to see what I could eliminate or how I could substitute a word for a phrase. Now, while working on the revisions for my book, I do the same thing. When I last looked the 19,467 words I started out with had been reduced to 19,206. Sister Marie Madeleine would be pleased.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 23, 2010 9:27 AM

    Hi Joan,

    I agree that tighter is better. Besides you’re the author, you tell your story in as many words as it needs to be told. Not more, nor less.
    Trust your instincts!

    Carmen Ferreiro
    Author of Two Moon Princess
    http://www.carmenferreiroesteban.com

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