13 Secrets to Creating Achievable Word Count Goals for Your Manuscript | Explained by UK Book Editor

Professional book editor lists 13 secrets to creating achievable word count goals so you can finish writing your manuscript sooner rather than later!

Picture this: your hands have been on the keyboard for most of the hour. You've been typing your heart out and making all the sense in the world. The page looks pretty full too, so you must have reached or even exceeded the word count... or not. Then you start to wonder: where did the words go? Have you been typing in the smallest print possible? Is this the right document? Will you ever finish this manuscript?

You're not alone; creating and reaching word count goals is a major headache for most writers. All your thoughts and research may be able to fit into fewer words than you expect, and you have to find ways to flesh it out without losing the essence or watering down your message. Your schedule also looks pretty packed with daily activities, and you just have to beat this looming deadline.

If you’re seeking ways to create realistic daily or weekly goals for completing your manuscript, here are a few tips.

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1. Determine Your Word Count Target

Knowing the number of words you're gunning for is the first step in creating your goals, but doing so will depend on what you want to write; a novel, a novella, a short story, or something else. You might have to do some research and carry out story sketches to understand the scope of the project you’re taking on.

If you’re working on a complex book that requires a large sequence of events to actualise the inciting incident, conflict, and resolution, then your best bet is a novel, which requires 50,000 words at the very least as a rule of thumb. If your story doesn't need as many events, then you're heading for a novella, which could be anywhere between 10,000 and 40,000 words. Short stories are heavier on mood and atmosphere than events, so if you’re writing one of those, your word count goal will be bordering on 5,000 words or less.

Of course, this will be different if you're a ghostwriter and your client has given you a specific word count, and also note that these word count estimations are not arbitrary and differ according to the genre.