I am riffing on Laney’s post from today which discusses writers who set word count goals to which my earnest reply was – no freakin’ way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as obsessed with word counts as much as the next author, but I would just be signing up for masochistic self-torture if I assigned myself word counts each time I sat down to write.
My speculation is that word counts are more suited to novelists, newspaper columnists and freelancers than short story writers. Novelists have a lot more words to write to “get to the end” than short story writers, and newspaper folk have deadlines to meet everyday.
I’d also include poets in with short story writers amongst the non-word-counting tribes. A poet will only include the most absolutely necessary words and no more or less. I would say that the very best short story writers should do the same thing.
Many of my short stories are flash fiction, which means they are less than 1000 words. Some of my stories would even be considered micro-fiction, which are less than 500 words. Flash fiction and micro-fiction are relative newcomers to the short story pantheon, but with today’s shorter-attention-span readers and the internet’s mouse-click hoverers, stories that can be quickly read in a sitting are easily consumed.
In terms of the process, I’d say that writing the 1000 words isn’t really so much the issue, or the speed at which I write that 1000 words. It’s the amount of time I need to spend editing, re-writing, and obsessing over every word and phrase which takes most of my time when I am producing a story.
What’s your experience with Word Counts?