The rules every writer knows, and no one talks about. 

Writing the Right Amount

Of course this isn’t always true, but it always seems to be. The hardest choice a writer makes, between Draft X and the vaunted and wondrous Final Draft is what to leave in and what to leave out. As a writer, you have certain scenes you want to set, certain characters you want to develop, plots you want to follow, and, overall a story you want to tell. As the person making decisions for a magazine, journal, or publishing house, what you have is a certain fairly fixed amount of space you want to fill. Specifically, your wallet.

That’s actually unfair to to the publishers and editors of the world, but the truth is, whether or not they enjoy, even love, a good story–in general or yours in particular, they’ve got the grander concern of keeping their place of business afloat, and they have a pretty good idea of what sorts and lengths of stories are going to help them do that.

As a writer, you’re going to find yourself pouring your heart and soul into your writing, only to find yourself diluting it down or just plain throwing it away, because your heart and soul didn’t happen to have quite the right number of arranged symbols for phonemes.

How to Deal With It

Treat it as a challenge. The whole point of being a writer is to own the language. Everybody whose been to school can, to varying degrees, use the language. If you honestly plan on being a great writer, you have to control it. Bend it to your will. Sometimes that means writing something so good that power that be ignore their rules. Sometimes that means finding the best way to say something in a manner that matches what they’re looking for. Either way, it’s just a challenge, and if you didn’t love a challenge, you wouldn’t be trying to make a living as a writer.

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3 Thoughts on “Unwritten Rules of Writing: Word Counts Are Always Wrong”

  • Tried to leave a comment on your blog, but the interface drove me up a wall. Oh, well… I was imitating a 10-year-old told to write a 500 page paper. Once upon a time a very, very, very, very long time ago, a really, really, really old man sat on the deck of his boat with 100 cats. The cats were named…

  • Believe it or not you DID write the comment on my blog (by writing it on Facebook, the systems are linked)! Haha, “. . . the cats were named Arch Duke Albert Binkleswoddington Mark Emmanuel Franchesca de Espana Whiskerkins the Thirteenth, Mother Empress Suzette Sprinkles Thomasina. . .”  I got ya.

  • Believe it or not you DID write the comment on my blog (by writing it on Facebook, the systems are linked)! Haha, “. . . the cats were named Arch Duke Albert Binkleswoddington Mark Emmanuel Franchesca de Espana Whiskerkins the Thirteenth, Mother Empress Suzette Sprinkles Thomasina. . .” I got ya.
    I answered this post in both places because I want to see if it imports back to this page or not, we shall see. . .

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