New Story

Using Objects—A Writer’s Eye

The Dreaded Word Count




Once upon a time, novels were a neat, slim 60k words. To nonwriters, that’s about 240 pages (250 words/page, double spaced, although I’ve read books that were shorter). I could see myself writing something that size.

Then the years rolled by and I discovered that the word count for fiction went up to 80k. Okay, I could adjust. I continued writing my novel, trying not to panic at how far the horizon was stretching. I could do this.

And then I thought to check what the average word count was for my genre. And my heart dropped right into my stomach and stayed there. Apparently, the average word count for urban fantasy is 90k. I stared at the screen in horror.

Needless to say, I made the 90k. Is it a better story for being longer? Perhaps. It caused me to slow down and flesh out the people and events. But I worked hard to make sure any filler was cut from the story, trimming the fat, as it were.

But when did this happen? Why did this happen? And where did this rule for how many words needed to be in a story come from?

I’d love to know.


* Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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