Little by Little… Novel Word Counts

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front for the last couple of weeks, but there’s a good reason. I’ve been working on a short story; a tale that began life as One Night In England back in October of 2014. Today I finished it. I call it a short story but in actual fact it’s the longest thing I’ve ever written, at 27,000 words. I also say I finished it, but I feel the ending is a little truncated and that a redraft is in order before I even let some willing volunteers take a peek at it. Nevertheless, I’m chuffed. I’ve completed a coherent piece of writing that has exceeded the length of anything I’ve written before. Because novel word counts are important.

Size matters

At 27,000 words, I feel that my story is in embedded in a no-man’s land of categorisation. It’s not a novel, but I feel like it’s a little more than a short story. A novella, then? Where does one class end and another begin?

A quick scan through the top Google results on the subject shows varying results, but it seems for typical adult novels word counts are somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 words: huge in comparison to my miniature tale. But heartening, in a way – writing my novella has taught me a few things, and one of them is how many words go into describing an event or period of time. The whole story is housed within a twenty four hour day with room to spare; the events of a single afternoon and the following evening in this case adding up to somewhere between a quarter and a third of an adult novel’s length.

Of course, this isn’t a rule of word counts – it just so happens that there was enough going on in my story that it added up to what it does. Some of it may not even make the final cut.

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Endless Forms: Mediums of Fiction

Earlier this week I listened to Red Barchetta by Rush. Haven’t heard it? Give it a listen. Red Barchetta is a narrative song about a future in which a ‘Motor Law’ bans many vehicles, such as everyday cars. Every week, the story’s protagonist sneaks out to his uncle’s old farm and takes an old sports car, a Red Barchetta, for a spin on the country roads. The music ramps up in intensity as the car picks up speed, and cymbals crash in time with guitar crunches as the Barchetta is spotted and chased by modern air cars. This would make a brilliant story, I think to myself. But then, it’s already a story – there are different mediums of fiction. Red Barchetta is a story written in sound instead of sentences.

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Winter Chills: The Christmas Ghost Story

’tis the season,” I cry, wolfing another mince pie.

Another mulled wine, Liam?

’tis the season!

What shall we watch now?

Ah. Well. Christmas really would be incomplete without a Christmas ghost story, wouldn’t it? ‘tis the season for a wintertime chiller: snuggling down in front of the television with a haunted house and a hot chocolate, ready for a scare or two. I think the Christmas ghost story has a seasonal charm as essential to the festive period as Christmas dinner. A ghost story is both a pleasant diversion from the happy festivities and an important complement to them. And when better to indulge in some spooky atmosphere than in the bleak midwinter?

Chills and thrills

A ghost story is distinguishable from a horror, and the two should be distinguished in as far as the Christmas ghost story is concerned. While horror films are, well, horrifying (just look at Black Christmas), ghost stories should be unsettling and creepy. Horror implies a level of graphic detail, of explicitly horrifying material. Ghosts work through implication, through effect. Stretched shadows, creepy creaks, pallid things half-glimpsed through windows…

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