assive writing is killer. It kills your action. It kills your pacing. It kills your readers’ connection to your character. But it’s awesome for your word count, which is why I hate it so much right now.
Writing in passive sentences helped me win NaNo, but it is killing my word count in revisions.
Changing “they were running” to “they ran” may only cut your word count by one, but when you multiply that by sentences upon sentences on pages upon pages, it’s a massacre. It’s soul crushing to realize that almost a fourth of your book was “were.”
Why do I care so much about word count? Truthfully, I should care less. Or at least, I should ignore it for the time being. Like the stock market, I need to ride it out a bit and not check every day/hour/revision (ahem).
But word counts are important because, in the end, I do want this story to be a published book.
In a recent post, Write Strong talks about “The Importance of Knowing Your Story Length.” It includes recommended word counts per genre, so check it out. Back in 2009, Bookends, LLC has a similar post entitled “Word Count.”
In many of the query commentaries I’ve seen (Query Shark, Evil Editor), word count plays an important role. If it’s too low or high for the intended genre, the editors see it as a red flag that you, as a writer, don’t know what you’re doing and that you don’t know your genre and audience. Readers expect hundred of thousands of pages in a fantasy because they want you to paint a rich and real world. Readers of picture books, not so much. The Bookends, LLC post talks more about this.
Struggling with my word count does make me wonder if I’m a slave to the counter or, maybe, I don’t really have as good a handle on my story as I thought I did.
I can’t blame that on passive sentences, but I’d sure like to.