There’s a lot of talk in drafting and revising about word count. Hitting a word count goal. Revising down to or up to a desired word count range. “My fantasy draft is only 75,000 words, so I need to add more scenes somewhere.” “My YA draft is 140,000 word so I need to delete a lot of scenes.” But do you though?
Word count determines if a story is a novel, a short story, or a novella. And every genre has a typical word count range that most books within that genre fall into. But is that range the rule? No. There is a reason that most books within the same genre tend to have similar word counts, but those ranges should only act as a guideline.
Some books are too long. The pacing slows, the scenes are dragged out or redundant and entirely unnecessary. And the readers start skimming to get to the good stuff. Don’t add scenes just to bulk up your word count if they’re not contributing to the story.
Some books are too short. Characters come and go before you realize it. Plot happens with nothing stringing it together. And the readers are confused. Don’t trim things to the point where no one knows what’s going on. Readers aren’t dumb. You don’t have to spell everything out for them. But sometimes you have to give them something.
A story should be as long or as short as it needs to be to tell the best version of that story.