Does Word Count Determine If You Told A Good Story?

Occasionally, I use quotes of writers I admire to open a blog-post. Today, I am going to quote myself…..

“It isn’t about the number of words the author writes,

it is about the story the author tells with the number of words written…. ” 

Joe Leonardi


I tend to agree with Edgar Allan Poe who believed that all works should be short. “There is”, he writes, “a distinct limit… to all works of literary art—the limit of a single sitting.” He especially emphasized this “rule” with regards to poetry, but also noted that the short story is superior to the novel for this reason.

One of my favorite quotes is by Ernest Hemingway, “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.” Reading a Papa story, whether an article, short story or novel, the reader is taken directly to the point. The reader’s time and interest are not wasted by walking around the block and then crossing the street. The destination is reached by a clear, concise and direct path.

I often read on author groups, writers obsessing over the number of words they have written in a sitting, day or week. I genuinely don’t understand why. Are they seeking validation? Looking to trumpet their achievement? Insecure with their story? I have read novels in which words exist merely to fill space, obviously serving no purpose other than achieving an arbitrary word count and contributing little to the story’s impact. In so many aspects of life, it is often stated that quantity does not equal quality — shouldn’t that be the same with the art of writing?

When I craft a story, I focus solely on that story. If it requires five-hundred, five thousand, or more than fifty thousand words, then that is what I write.

5 thoughts on “Does Word Count Determine If You Told A Good Story?

  1. #BigFacts man!!!! This is the exact reason I’ve been focusing on short stories — to further develop my ability to get to the point, stick to the point and deliver an end to the point.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Exactly, I look over the 2 novels I wrote and I admit there is filler in there, if I were to write them now, they may be longer tales, but more to the point.
    Although I admit. I am really fond of both of them. The are such different stories.
    One Day I Was is historical fiction, while She Is The New Savior is adult themed, telling a sexually and violently graphic allegory of religion in today’s world.
    Once again thank you for reading and commenting.
    Keep writing.

    Liked by 2 people

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