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(Informal) penalty for being under the word count?

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AubreyZahn View Drop Down
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    Posted: 11 Apr 2021 at 12:29pm
Asking the folks who've been doing this competition for a while. I'm pleased with my Round 2 short story and don't think there's anything else to add, but it's sitting at about 1700 words. I know there isn't an official penalty for being below the word count, but in your experience, have you gotten dinged for not maximizing the 2000 word limit?

Thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Random Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2021 at 12:34pm
None whatsoever.  If you can tell the story in five words then use five words, but be advised one of the most common comments from the judges is 'I would have liked to know more about...', so if you still have 300 words it's far more likely that you can use them.

On the other hand, if your heart tells you the story is complete, then it's complete.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AubreyZahn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2021 at 12:58pm
Originally posted by Random Random wrote:

None whatsoever.  If you can tell the story in five words then use five words, but be advised one of the most common comments from the judges is 'I would have liked to know more about...', so if you still have 300 words it's far more likely that you can use them.

On the other hand, if your heart tells you the story is complete, then it's complete.

Thanks Random! That’s reassuring. :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote theinquisitor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2021 at 6:05pm
I was 250 words short of the maximum last round, with no repercussions.
Short story R2 Quadruple or Nothing
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ash101_49 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2021 at 6:17pm
I know this has kind of been said already, but I'll tell you what I tell my students when they ask about essay length:

Often, a paper that's too short doesn't have enough detail and substance. And a paper that's too long usually hasn't been edited enough. So feel free to turn in whatever length you think best for your paper, but just remember that if it's too short or too long, it better be extra good to justify it!

Since you can't make yours too long, feel free to adjust this message as needed! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nod1v1ng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2021 at 6:40pm


I have seen stories WELL under word count do well. But as Random said, you had very well better have a fully fleshed out story. If you have a bunch of words at your disposal but your character dev is thin, or backstory incomplete, or there are important questions unanswered, or your arc is threadbare, you will get dinged for it.

However, if your story is well told, then you will be fine, no matter the length. More words are not always better. And bottom line is, a good story is a good story. That's all that is important.
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