The mighty word count

NaNoWriMo makes us take a hard look at the method with write with.  If you are any thing like me you set little goals.  Not just word count, but other goals too so you know you will hit minimum novel length (which for many of us isn’t the 50,000 words NaNo suggests)  One of the things we do is look at chapter length.  It isn’t just during NaNo that we do this.  How long you make your chapters is highly personal.

Mine vary according to which project I’m working on.  Sometimes 2,000-2,500 is a good length.  Sometime I shoot for under three.  There is one novel in particular that I shot for anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 words.  Whatever your word count goal there are times you fall short.  This post is for you.

I have had chapters end at 1000 words or less.  There are many things I can do and so can you.

1.  You can let it.  There is no hard and fast rule about chapter length.  Sometimes a short chapter is exactly what you need to speed up your plot.

2. You can add a scene.  Adding a scene doesn’t mean it has to be at the end.  It can be anywhere within the chapter.  Perhaps you can go into more detail during specific parts. Your character could have an epiphany.  You can interject another character, another problem, a sub plot.

3.  You can combine it with the chapter before or after it.  I’ve done it before and been surprised by how well it fit.

Especially if you are in rough draft mode, you need to just let the story tell itself.  You don’t know what scenes, chapters, or plots will even make the final draft.  Being too strict with yourself can make you write words that only pad a chapter, not add meaning.  You wouldn’t want that.  Write the good stuff.  The weak stuff will sort itself out in a later draft.

Good luck with you word count!


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