Word Count Problems

Word Count Problems: What’s The Deal With ‘Exactly’?


One of the additional challenges in the 12 Short Story challenge is to use the exact word count. This isn’t something I’ve spoken about this year, but it is a valuable part of the challenge.

There are writers who do not enjoy the restrictions that prompts and word counts place on them, so this challenge will obviously not be for them. If you do enjoy a challenge, I can promise you that using the additional challenges will help you to improve your writing.

Something I have to remind myself of often is that 12 Short Stories is about learning and growing as a writer. It is not a writing competition. It is not about only publishing your very best work. It is also about workshopping writing that you are struggling with. It is a place to ask other writers their opinion on a story that just won’t click. (If your story is brilliant post that too. We love a good story.)

What will ‘exactly’ do for you?

  1. Adding or removing words to reach the exact word count will force you to evaluate your story again and again. It motivates you to read your story just one more time.
  2. If you are missing a few words, it’ll help you to identify what you have left out of the story and what you tend to leave out in your writing.
  3. If you have too many words, it’ll help you to cut.
  4. It helps you to stop editing. Sometimes we overdo it. It is nice to have a place to stop.

You can find a more detailed information here: 12 Secrets To Help You Shorten Your Short Story

You can also refer to this printable checklist to help you reduce your word count.

If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

 by Mia Botha

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