Young Adult YA Word Count

By flickimp
In Blog
Apr 24th, 2011
4 Comments
1995 Views

I must warn you that there are two ways to consider word count. Some go with the 250 words per page and your manuscript may be judged on that rather than the actual word count (that can be calculated with your word processor).

I am going to discuss what I have learnt from eyeing several million blogs, sites and watching youtube videos. Yes there are some viral videos out there.

When I started writing The Last Strider, I became so in awe of the Harry Potter novels and other mainstream YA novels like Northern Lights and the Percy Jackson series that I started aiming for 120k as a minimum.

Repeat after me: “Big mistake Dr. Jones.”

Harry Potter is an exception to the rule. Sorry, no, it defined it’s own rule that wil never be repeated without cosmic intervention.

So, let us say you are aiming for the late teen, YA market. Your particular genre could increase or shave off the final count that is important but as a rule of thumb I would aim for 80k.

In fact, aiming for 100k or more is not unheard of. What you must do when you have reached the end is to go back and re-read/re-draft the novel. My experience shows that word-cutting will become second nature and what was 120k may shrink to 70k.

If your novel ends at 60k before this stage, you may risk cutting down to 50 or 40k which is still acceptable but can be deemed too short by some agents.

Write what you feel is necessary to tell your story but always have ‘sharpness’ in your thoughts. Imagine that a young person has been handed your novel and in the dead of the night, they sit to read it. Is it a page turner or does it waffle about issues that makes reader yawn.

Back story can be vital, describing the scenery and diverse characters (especially in fantasy novels) is important, but keep to what is needed for the plot to move on. Do not tell us about the supreme doorway with hinges that sing if all your reader does is pass through it.

In my YA novels – now and the future – I will aim for 65k as the finished article. On average that will put me close to a 250-280 page book (if we assume that there are 250 words per page).

Some readers think that 500 page books are epics, and some are, but how many were filler pages? Mighty culprits that spring to mind are the Dan Brown novels where I feel like I have learnt enough about NASA to walk in and command my own space expedition.

Word count is subjective and you will be at the mercy of what your agent or publishing house deems suitable,. If as an unpublished new author with no credentials or celebrity status submit a 120k novel to an agent, there is a high chance they will reject by the first paragraph of your covering letter. Also remember that a large novel costs more money to produce and with the tight squeeze on expenditure and how booksellers are operating, your large novel would have to be exceptional usage of words.

My opinion is my own, but many blogs will state the average YA novel word count to be between 60-80k.

Write your best story then trim it.

Though it’s another story when the editor asks you to increase your word count.

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4 Responses to “Young Adult YA Word Count”

  1. [...] doubt. So much so that the end product is pure and rich, and that to even mention a decrease in word count would be deemed blasphemous. I am not one of those perfect writers. Not even close. [...]

  2. [...] if I tailored it for a MG… I might have to reduce the word count to between 35-50k. And all because I have a talking animal. – Well, yes, that is the harsh truth. [...]

  3. [...] My second novel Disconnect was completed a month-or-so ago. It is a YA Sci-Fi clocking in at 62k, and revolves around the dangerous attraction that builds between two totally-differing characters. [...]

  4. [...] Jun 29, 2012 | 0 comments Novel 4 – started on June 4th – is so far at the 1/3 mark – 20k words. I should have been at the 30k stage by now, and I have myself to blame for not doing as much. Bah [...]

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