Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wrangle the Word Count

I've been trolling the #PitchMadness feed these last few days. It's fascinating.

The (Amazing) slush readers are throwing out tidbits here and there about what works in a pitch and first 250.Some of it we've come to expect:

  1. Avoid cliches (don't start with a crash! Or a dream! Or looking in the mirror!)
  2. The first 250 really have to be TIGHT. Eliminate Dead Wood!
  3.  Know your genre
  4. Watch your word count

The last pops up repeatedly - seems people are writing long books.

I sympathize with the long writers - I am one of them. The YA ms I am currently querying (and entered in #PitchMadness) was originally 125K.
Wow. And I had no idea that was a bad thing!! Until the first agent I queried very kindly told me I needed to cut the book in half.
I did cut dramatically, and, no surprise to my seasoned readers, made the book a billion times better. It is now 80K, which is within that genre's target.

So, for those who don't know or those who need a reminder, here are links to some great word count resources:

 If  you discover you need to do some trimming, get to it - and don't enter another contest or query again until you do. No joke - your ms WILL be a joke if you don't wrangle the word count.

Next week - Lessons Learned from #PitchMadness


  1. good luck with Pitch Madness!! I can't imagine the task of trying to cut my WIP in half but nice of the agent to take time to let you know :)

  2. It really was. She ultimately passed on the ms :( but at least she made it possible for me not to get laughed out of the other agents' slushes!!
    Good luck to you too.