Word count

It’s easy to get bogged down in word count for novels.

My recent research informed me that 80,000 is the minimum word count an agent will consider, for general and commercial fiction. There are other limits for other genres and here is a nice guide:


80k is a lot of words when you’re starting out. It’s also a lot of if your style is concise and economical.

It’s a shame that writers are encouraged to meet these long word counts. The Business side of it is clear- readers want to feel they are getting VFM. But, on the creative side, it leaves a lot to be desired.

Many great novels have been much less than 80,000 words. The Great Gatsby, for one. Here’s a nice guide to great novels that came in under 80K:


I did go through an attempt at writing my novels to this word count, but some of the stories just did not lend themselves to such a word length. I ended up with even more ridiculous plots than I already had and was trying to escape from.

There are some nice guides out there with tips how to get that novel to the magic 80K:

I think the above could work, but I would rather approach a novel with those tips in mind, rather than work backwards and expand.

So, what I did, I tried to find a story that would take 80k words, and tell that one. I decided to go for the mystery genre, my first actual genre fiction, too.

The hope is that this story might be the one that gets picked up by an agent and then all my earlier novels might have a chance of seeing the published light of day.


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