Repeat the mantra:
Less than 8,000 words=short story
80,000 and up=adult novel
So, you might ask, what is that black hole between 50,000 words and 80,000? Well, if you’re writing a middle grade or YA novel, you can get away with 70K, maybe a tad less.
Otherwise, you’re in rewrite hell. Which is the real estate I am currently occupying with my work in progress.
It was 52,000 words when I wrote “The End,” so I added a couple of chapters. Now, it’s 62,000 words.
My great swampy middle, as novelist Jim Butcher calls it, needs more swamp. I hate swamp. The journalist in me feels creating swamp is just wrong. We pare sentences down to bare bones and edit things within an inch of their very existence.
So now I’m creating another subplot and trying to weave it into the swamp. Is it enough to add at least 18,000 words? Probably not. I hate swamps.
And what did writers do about blasted word counts before Bill Gates?