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Low Word Count

Printed From: NYC Midnight : Creative Writing & Screenwriting
Category: GENERAL DISCUSSION
Forum Name: Creative Writing Corner
Forum Description: Discuss NYC Midnight Creative Writing Competitions or Creative Writing in general.
URL: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=43493
Printed Date: 24 Oct 2021 at 6:53pm
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Topic: Low Word Count
Posted By: Will703
Subject: Low Word Count
Date Posted: 13 Sep 2021 at 12:11am
I know there is no minimum word count, but I typically try to get as close to 1,000 (or whatever the maximum is) as possible. My friend entered with me this time, and she submitted her story in the 880s. It's a full story, and I like the ending, but she was up against the clock and got it in with 2 minutes to spare. Do you think the judges look down on leaving so much opportunity on the table?

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Replies:
Posted By: ChristiLB
Date Posted: 13 Sep 2021 at 12:16am
Originally posted by Will703 Will703 wrote:

I know there is no minimum word count, but I typically try to get as close to 1,000 (or whatever the maximum is) as possible. My friend entered with me this time, and she submitted her story in the 880s. It's a full story, and I like the ending, but she was up against the clock and got it in with 2 minutes to spare. Do you think the judges look down on leaving so much opportunity on the table?

My story came in at 867 words. I don't think they look down upon it or take points off for it but you will almost certainly get a suggestion of where you could have filled in more info with your remaining word count. I've gotten that a few times - "I would have liked to have read more about so and so and you had the words for it..." lol. I think she'll be fine.


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Posted By: kristina_f
Date Posted: 13 Sep 2021 at 12:21am
Doubt it matters for placing. As the MF100 and 250 prove, compelling and complete stories can be written in far fewer words. 

I think what the judges comment on and what they use to score often don't align. There ends up being a lot of judge's comments about wanting 'more'. In some cases, I think that's particular to the author not being able to find the right balance or getting stuck on a concept too big for the word count. In some cases, I think the judges are just off the mark. And in some cases I think the judges are just looking for something to say to fill out the comments when they don't have much else useful to offer.


Posted By: toeditishuman
Date Posted: 13 Sep 2021 at 12:27am
Edit: sorry, wrong thread!

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Posted By: NERdling
Date Posted: 13 Sep 2021 at 12:34am
Originally posted by Will703 Will703 wrote:

I know there is no minimum word count, but I typically try to get as close to 1,000 (or whatever the maximum is) as possible. My friend entered with me this time, and she submitted her story in the 880s. It's a full story, and I like the ending, but she was up against the clock and got it in with 2 minutes to spare. Do you think the judges look down on leaving so much opportunity on the table?

I had around 775 in round 2 last year. It was a complete story, but it was more middle-draft-not-final-draft quality. I took 8th in my group. I didn't get any negative feedback based on the length or on there being incomplete thoughts. 

If it's a complete and polished draft, she will have an equal shot to score as if it were a 1000 word story. 


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Posted By: dcontarato
Date Posted: 13 Sep 2021 at 2:01am
I submitted at around 880 words this time. First draft was a bit over 900, and it felt complete to me.

For once, it was liberating to not have to worry about trimming to fit within the word count limit; virtually every round a lot of editing time goes into cutting down from, say, 1200 words to just within 1000, and at least for me, more than once the chopping has left its mark on the quality of the final product. Things get particularly messy with screenplays where the constraints of the format play tricks on you, and one line can make a difference between a scene fitting within 5 pages or spilling over substantially on the next page.

Yes--if the judges feel that something isn't fully developed, they'll have the "you had words" argument. But they ask for more all the time even for stories that clock in at 999 words, so I doubt they really look at the number of words LOL 


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Posted By: Log_Lady
Date Posted: 13 Sep 2021 at 11:15am
I think your friend will be fine, Will. My round 1 story was only 752 words and placed second so hopefully that will give her some peace of mind. Good luck to both of you!

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Posted By: marcwest
Date Posted: 13 Sep 2021 at 11:28am
I finished at 986. I had to change my original plan, because I knew it would be over 1000. So I eliminated some elements. I'm still confident with my story. I hope the judges agree.


Posted By: FerretKittyMom
Date Posted: 13 Sep 2021 at 12:37pm
I was at 800. So I went back and reread it and tried to imagine i didn't know what was in ny head. Then I added a few more details to try and clarify/ expand a few things. I ended up at 999. It was strange being able to add instead of trying to figure out what to cut lol

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Posted By: Maximum Dynamite
Date Posted: 13 Sep 2021 at 1:02pm
Originally posted by ChristiLB ChristiLB wrote:

My story came in at 867 words. I don't think they look down upon it or take points off for it but you will almost certainly get a suggestion of where you could have filled in more info with your remaining word count. I've gotten that a few times - "I would have liked to have read more about so and so and you had the words for it..." lol. I think she'll be fine.

Heck, I get that suggestion even when I turn it in with every single word of my 1k already used. "I think you could have taken some more time to fully explain what happened in the first 16 years of Graham's life..." Oh, really? Do you think that? In my thriller, in which Graham is only a peripheral character? Thanks for the tip! I'll be sure to not write anything on the actual prompt next time...


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Posted By: kristina_f
Date Posted: 13 Sep 2021 at 7:01pm
Every time I this thread title I feel like it's a medical condition, like a hematological disorder, or a reason to visit the fertility clinic.


Posted By: Pajamas All Day
Date Posted: 13 Sep 2021 at 11:50pm
My challenge #2 flash fiction story that I submitted with two minutes to spare Sunday night is only 550 words. I had to write political satire and spent Saturday and most of Sunday completely uninspired and resigned to the fact that I wouldn't submit. I decided to give it a go at 9 p.m. and was pleased that at the very least I did submit a story. I know the judges will say that the ending is too abrupt because it is, but when you only have minutes to spare you just have to live with abrupt.

A couple of years ago I submitted a 420 word flash fiction story that I had to write while attending a weekend writers' conference. I wrote on my phone during the two short breaks we were given. I decided it wasn't worth submitting. I then drove 6 hours to get home. I walked in my front door ten minutes from the contest deadline and decided to submit. The story earned 7 points in 9th place.


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Posted By: CreativeByNight
Date Posted: 14 Sep 2021 at 12:24am
Originally posted by kristina_f kristina_f wrote:

Every time I this thread title I feel like it's a medical condition, like a hematological disorder, or a reason to visit the fertility clinic.

Haha!!! This made me laugh so hard, my cat fell off the sofa. And I don’t have a cat. ;-)


Posted By: Trond24
Date Posted: 14 Sep 2021 at 12:32am
In 2019, my ch2 story was under 900 words and I got 15 points. And this weekend was 938. :-)

Out of 15 challenges so far in Flash, I got in 980+ 12 times. But I would never worry the judges "expect" ~1k.
And I see too often when beta'ing for others that they've told too big a story for flash. The eventual haircut tends to undermine the character building that the story relies on. 
Use the words, but don't fret about being shorter than the max. :-)
Good luck!


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Posted By: Dreamfired
Date Posted: 14 Sep 2021 at 9:32am
Replying to @Trond24 - I feel like I had forum skills once long ago but have forgotten them!

That feels like really good advice about story being the right size for flash.

My first year this year, spy in the first round, had an OK time with it given it is a genre I don't read as well as don't write but I feel like what I produced this time for Horror is objectively better. Discussing with people I write with and they said something very sound - this one is a story whereas that one was a scene. 

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Posted By: FerretKittyMom
Date Posted: 14 Sep 2021 at 12:29pm
Originally posted by Pajamas All Day Pajamas All Day wrote:

My challenge #2 flash fiction story that I submitted with two minutes to spare Sunday night is only 550 words. I had to write political satire and spent Saturday and most of Sunday completely uninspired and resigned to the fact that I wouldn't submit. I decided to give it a go at 9 p.m. and was pleased that at the very least I did submit a story. I know the judges will say that the ending is too abrupt because it is, but when you only have minutes to spare you just have to live with abrupt.

A couple of years ago I submitted a 420 word flash fiction story that I had to write while attending a weekend writers' conference. I wrote on my phone during the two short breaks we were given. I decided it wasn't worth submitting. I then drove 6 hours to get home. I walked in my front door ten minutes from the contest deadline and decided to submit. The story earned 7 points in 9th place.


I also got political satire (group 25). I got an idea for it fairly quickly, but had zero motivation to actually write it. I dislike anything to do with politics! I forced myself to start it anyways, started about 2 hours after assignments came out. I wrote about 68 words and was like "eff this" lol. Sometime Saturday evening I added 20 more. I finally finished it Sunday around 1 pm. Just before I went to bed (night shift worker) I had thought about giving up and not submitting. I'm glad I pushed through and did it though!


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Posted By: Pajamas All Day
Date Posted: 14 Sep 2021 at 7:56pm

I also got political satire (group 25). I got an idea for it fairly quickly, but had zero motivation to actually write it. I dislike anything to do with politics! I forced myself to start it anyways, started about 2 hours after assignments came out. I wrote about 68 words and was like "eff this" lol. Sometime Saturday evening I added 20 more. I finally finished it Sunday around 1 pm. Just before I went to bed (night shift worker) I had thought about giving up and not submitting. I'm glad I pushed through and did it though!
[/QUOTE]

Am I you or are you me? We sound the same including the bit about not liking anything political. I'd like to read your story so I hope you post it when we get the all clear. I'm in group 86. In our first challenge only one other person, besides me, posted their story and I was so disappointed because I love reading what others do with the same prompts I was given. Best of luck to us both.


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Posted By: GaleGirl
Date Posted: 14 Sep 2021 at 8:56pm
Originally posted by Will703 Will703 wrote:

I know there is no minimum word count, but I typically try to get as close to 1,000 (or whatever the maximum is) as possible. My friend entered with me this time, and she submitted her story in the 880s. It's a full story, and I like the ending, but she was up against the clock and got it in with 2 minutes to spare. Do you think the judges look down on leaving so much opportunity on the table?

Hmm. I would like to know how she makes out. I always have judges telling me I should have added this or that. I'm thinking...are you kidding? My story is 999 words. Yeah, I would have loved to have more development here or there but I am at 999 words. 

Sheesh!


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Posted By: GaleGirl
Date Posted: 14 Sep 2021 at 9:06pm
Originally posted by Will703 Will703 wrote:

I know there is no minimum word count, but I typically try to get as close to 1,000 (or whatever the maximum is) as possible. My friend entered with me this time, and she submitted her story in the 880s. It's a full story, and I like the ending, but she was up against the clock and got it in with 2 minutes to spare. Do you think the judges look down on leaving so much opportunity on the table?

BTW, low word count is a very funny topic for a post. Kudos on that one. Low word count. Hahahahaha.


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Posted By: FerretKittyMom
Date Posted: 15 Sep 2021 at 12:18am
Originally posted by Pajamas All Day Pajamas All Day wrote:

Am I you or are you me? We sound the same including the bit about not liking anything political. I'd like to read your story so I hope you post it when we get the all clear. I'm in group 86. In our first challenge only one other person, besides me, posted their story and I was so disappointed because I love reading what others do with the same prompts I was given. Best of luck to us both.

I will be posting mine as soon as we can. Last round only 4 or 5 other people posted in my group.  I also like seeing what other people do with the prompts. And it's nice when the results come out to know the stories that place. (Either to go "that was a good story, they deserve it" or "WTF were they thinking placing that?" LOL) I am looking forward to reading your story, and will go read your round one as soon as I have a chance.  Good luck on the judging!


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Posted By: CreativeByNight
Date Posted: 15 Sep 2021 at 12:30am
Originally posted by kristina_f kristina_f wrote:

Every time I this thread title I feel like it's a medical condition, like a hematological disorder, or a reason to visit the fertility clinic.

This made me laugh so hard that I scared my cat and he fell off the sofa. And I don’t even have a cat. ;-)


Posted By: theinquisitor
Date Posted: 15 Sep 2021 at 8:16am
I don't think I've ever submitted less than 980 for Flash, but this year I got through three rounds of the short story competition and every one of them was about 10% under the word limit.

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