Word Count | Veronica Jorge | A Slice of Orange

So who established word counts? And when did words become so expensive to print that they require massive cuts, like the U.S. budget?  Does that mean that in today’s market James Joyce’s, Ulysses wouldn’t make it to publication? Or past the word police? Would an agent even get through the first five pages?

I can imagine an editor skimming through Chapter One of Charles Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities. “… it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of unbelief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness,…we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way….Yada, yada, yada.” His critique might be, “A rambling paragraph with enough commas to fill an entire chapter. Excessive word count, repetitive and burdensome. Guy probably sent it to me by mistake. I’ll have to let him know that we don’t publish psychiatric diaries.”

The editor would most likely want to limit the count of ‘to be’ verbs. By those standards, I guess Shakespeare wouldn’t make the cut it either, “To be or not to be.”

Write from the Heart | Veronica Jorge | A Slice of OrangeWhen did we get so busy and pressed for time that we gulp down a book so we can get on to the next one? When did our palate become so insipid that we can no longer relish and savor the taste of words making us miss the whole joy of the language journey?

I recall the film, The Agony and the Ecstasy. No, it’s not a sexy romance. Sorry. It depicts the story of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. Several scenes show Pope Sixtus IV impatiently interrupting the artist at work to ask, “When will it be finished?” to which Michelangelo would always reply, “When it is finished.”

Like Michelangelo’s paintbrush, I bristle at the agent mantra to keep it short, be concise. Yes, I know words cost money and time is money. But so did paint back then. What might the Sistine Chapel look like today if Michelangelo had raced to finish it, or had been limited by how many paint colors he could use? “Tone it down. Don’t apply the paint too thickly. Stay on budget.”

Logically, I understand that rules and formats, and word counts must apply. But when I was a teacher I didn’t teach to the test because that’s not good pedagogy. For me, a creative work is finished when it is finished. And as a writer, I don’t want to write to the word count, but I do always want to make every word count.

See you next time on July 22nd.

Veronica


Veronica Jorge

Manager, Educator, and former High School Social Studies teacher, Veronica credits her love of history to the potpourri of cultures that make up her own life and to her upbringing in diverse Brooklyn, New York.  Her genres of choice are Historical Fiction where she always makes new discoveries and Children’s Picture Books because there are so many wonderful worlds yet to be imagined and visited. She currently resides in Macungie, PA.

 

Author Bio
Author Bio
Manager, Educator, and former High School Social Studies teacher, Veronica credits her love of history to the potpourri of cultures that make up her own life and to her upbringing in diverse Brooklyn, New York. Her genres of choice are Historical Fiction where she always makes new discoveries and Children’s Picture Books because there are so many wonderful worlds yet to be imagined and visited. She currently resides in Macungie, PA.
  • My Dad’s Super Power

    My father always said, “Know who you are. In whatever you do, do your best.” By his hard work and example, he instilled in me the importance of integrity and quality. This makes me scrutinize everything I say and write (sometimes to excess). But also causes me to dig a little deeper and write from the heart which makes for a satisfying journey.

  • A DANCE OF WORDS BY VERONICA JORGE

    Hispanola, which means the “Spanish island,” became the first Spanish settlement in America. It is my mother’s native country and today we know the eastern section of the island as the Dominican Republic; a fertile land abundant in mines and minerals and rich in a great variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and flowers, where the sun shines brightly year round.

  • The Character Must Die

    I killed one of the characters in my novel.

    (It was more like two, but I have no qualms about the second one.)

    I came up with a death scene I really liked and just had to use it, so someone had to “go.”

  • Nemesis and the Swan: A Review by Veronica Jorge

    Nineteen-year-old Helene languishes in a squalid French prison tormented by questions she cannot answer. Why was she arrested? Who could have made a wrongful accusation against her? And if so, why?

  • A Bird Will Soar by Alison Green Myers: A Review by Veronica Jorge

    Once in a while you come across a book, that after reading it, makes you pause and think, even marvel because you’ve encountered life from an entirely new perspective. Alison Green Myers’, debut novel, A Bird Will Soar, is such a book.

Nothing Found

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INCIDENT AT SAN MIGUEL

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REFUGEE

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THE WITCH WHISPERER

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UPROOTED: THE JAPANESE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE DURING WORLD WAR II

THE ORPHANS OF BERLIN

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DISTANT RELATIONS

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FIVE BELLES TOO MANY

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THE LAST GOODNIGHT

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MIGUEL’S BRAVE KNIGHT

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FOUR CUTS TOO MANY

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FORGIVING MARIELA CAMACHO

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FORGIVING STEPHEN REDMOND

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FORGIVING MAXIMO ROTHMAN

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MY FRIEND JACKSON

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THREE TREATS TOO MANY

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TWO BITES TOO MANY

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#PLEASE SAY YES (#HermosafortheHolidays Book 1)

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ONE TASTE TOO MANY

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Manager, Educator, and former High School Social Studies teacher, Veronica credits her love of history to the potpourri of cultures that make up her own life and to her upbringing in diverse Brooklyn, New York. Her genres of choice are Historical Fiction where she always makes new discoveries and Children’s Picture Books because there are so many wonderful worlds yet to be imagined and visited. She currently resides in Macungie, PA.
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  • taristhread says:

    Great post Veronica! As you know, cutting isn’t the big problem for me, but word counts are! We definitely agree that making every word count is key. I love your question about whether some of the great writers would be published by today’s standars. Makes me wonder how many great works have been passed over because of numbers.

    • Veronica Jorge says:

      Yes, the great writers we still read today are so varied in language, depth, and style which is why they’re still around. I want to be part of that group.

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