How many words should I aim for?

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How many words should I aim for?

#1 Post by alberte » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:50 pm

I am wondering how many words should I aim for if it's my first visual novel and it's a kinetic visual novel?
I already have 6k words so far if that helps.
Also how much reading time does 10k words make?
I plan on making this have choices once I establish the basic framework of this visual novel/dating sim.
How many words does the average visual novel have?
Any insight what be amazing, thank you. :mrgreen:

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Re: How many words should I aim for?

#2 Post by Imperf3kt » Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:52 pm

Entirely depends on how you wrote it and what you're trying to portray.

Its not good practise to aim for a specific number of words, thats just focusing on quantity over quality.
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Re: How many words should I aim for?

#3 Post by fleet » Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:43 pm

Some sources state the average reading speed for adults is 250 words per minute. Based on that, your 10K words could be read in 40 minutes. Others sources say average adult reading speed is 200 words per minute. Based on that, your 10K words could be read in 50 minutes.
Your visual novel should have enough words required to tell your story.
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Re: How many words should I aim for?

#4 Post by Ezmar » Thu Jul 05, 2018 12:26 am

Some VNs can be read in a few hours. Others have over a million words. Both kinds can be highly regarded.

Write until the story's told. Then check your word count. If your story has the same number of words as your story, congrats, you did it.

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Re: How many words should I aim for?

#5 Post by Mammon » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:04 am

You should aim for all the words. Don't feel like you need to hold back if you want to write more, there's no maximum amount of words to adhere to.
You should aim for few words. Don't feel like you have to make an essay with a minimum word count or that you have to fill scenes to a certain length.
You should aim for the right amount of words. Simple as that. If you don't know what to write, what to fill a scene with, don't force your writing. If you want to write a lot of hijinks or slice of life scenes between your plot because you like doing it and have a lot of good ideas to fill them with, then do so!

It all comes down to how you write and what you want to write.

A minimal amount of words is something of the commercial japanese scene, a VN has to have a certain length because they're paying money and want their money's worth and there has to be enough of a story on the CDs or whatever to properly fill it. Also, writers get paid per word there so they can often write entire scenes just filling the story with cloudgazing and other nonsense just for more and easier pay. In the indie scene, such behaviour is neither necessary nor appreciated by most.

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Re: How many words should I aim for?

#6 Post by traineroflegend » Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:22 pm

My suggestion, especially if you've never written anything longer than 5k words, is to outline. Write your scenes as bullet points. Then, write them all. After you're done writing everything (and NOT before you finish writing it all), go ahead and edit. If you feel like it ends up being too short, then that's OK because it's how long it took you to say everything you wanted to say. The wrong approach would be to stuff the novel with extra material that isn't necessary. Visual novels already have a huge problem with being too bloated with text. You don't want to add to that.

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Re: How many words should I aim for?

#7 Post by Ezmar » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:12 pm

One note about "filling". Sometimes you feel you want to add scenes for pacing reasons. You may want a certain period of time to feel appropriately long to the reader, so you may want to pad the length. But it's of the utmost importance that whenever you do this, you make sure each scene still has a reason to exist. Adding length isn't a reason to exist. You need to have important character development, elaboration on some plot element or another, something that makes the scene purposeful. If you can find some reason to make a scene worthwhile to the reader, that's fine.

It's also kind of tricky, because you need to balance what happens in each scene. You can't just cry "but there's character development" for every scene. It needs to be deliberately paced. As I'm writing my current VN, I'm coming up on some sections that I want to fill with time. So before I start outlining, I think of what developments I want to occur before the end of the story, and specifically in this section. I try to see what I can match to different scenes and try to come up with a series of purposeful, meaningful scenes, that also take up that time I want them to. For example, "These two characters need to become closer, I can develop that in scene A and scene D. I also should expand a bit more on this character's family situation, since that hasn't been touched on in a bit, I can do that in scene D as well. I can do some plot stuff in scene C, and some side plot and character development in scene B..." and so on.

Hopefully that made a little bit of sense. The point is that you should always be able to come up with a good reason for any writing you do to be included in the story.

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Re: How many words should I aim for?

#8 Post by StellaPurple » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:54 am

Having 5k for a chapter seems to be a fulfilling amount for readers.

According to GradeProof, 10k takes about less than 1 hour. (You can find this add-on gadget at Google Doc.)

I've seen visual novels with at least 100k, if you want it to be a long story. Of course, there's nothing wrong if opting for short story too, about +30k, or 10k per suitor/path. Don't feel the pressure of creating multiple arcs at once. Some game companies make sequels just for this, while mobile games usually add one new suitor path at a time.
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Re: How many words should I aim for?

#9 Post by Curtid21 » Sat Aug 25, 2018 4:44 pm

I often think about this when writing my own project. Right now, my project is about 1/3rd of the way done and there are about 20k words all in all. In my experience as a VN reader, it's really about the "visual" more than the "novel".
While the avg reading speed may be 150 wpm, we have the ability to: space out texts (readers have to hit the enter key), add music, add scenery, add special effects, voicing, mini games, etc. So unless the reader is bashing the enter key through everything, the read/playtime is going be noticeably longer than plain novel reading.

Echoing the above, just use as many words as you feel are necessary. No stress
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Re: How many words should I aim for?

#10 Post by Hikari Beldrich » Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:54 pm

Just to add my 2 cents,

In the past I've agonized over the length of the stories I wrote because I was always worried about whether or not someone would read the story if it were too long. I gimped myself with this for years, and my writing suffered as a result. Sure you can learn a lot by trying to write a very condensed story, but visual novels have this one amazing, less-obvious-than-you'd-think advantage over paperback stories. Your reader can't turn the book sideways and see how far through the story they are.

You didn't provide any insight into why exactly you're curious about word count, but if you're at all worried about "how much is too much?" I would encourage you to cast those fears aside and write the best story you can. That's what I'm trying to do these days and it's been a liberating experience!
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Re: How many words should I aim for?

#11 Post by Chiaseed » Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:42 am

Here are some examples.

Average story or one shot has to be around 700 as 'short' and 1500 words as 'long'. For novels, they usually have around 1000 - 3000 words per chapter, and longer according to the author.

Here is the catch, visual novel is supposed to be a novel visualized. First, from the tips above, you can make bullet points about the key events in the story, then group them per chapter (a chapter has about a maximum of two to three events.).

There are some parts where you want to make it short because it is just explanation, but on other parts, you want to make it longer because it is a key event. It is fine. In novels, or visual novels, there are parts where the author repeatedly stress a certain key point in the story.

We can see from Doki 2 literature club. It takes four hours to play the while game, but it is just an estimation. The effects that your writing have can also impact the time spent on the game.

It is honestly better if you attempt the quality more than the quantity of the words. As how it is better if you attempt to make stories that people wouldn't skip over rather than a long phrase that people would most likely skip over.

I don't have an average visual novel word count, but I hope this helps.

(In addition, the type of visual novel you are making also matters. E.g. Gag Crack, Deep, Entertainment, etc.)

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Re: How many words should I aim for?

#12 Post by mcoorlim » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:26 pm

I write books for a living so I think of everything in terms of word count. I know how many words per hour I write, so I know about how long it'll take me to get a draft out. I know how many words readers expect out of me in a given novel, so I have a target to aim for.

Interactive fiction is different, VN are different, because depending on how the story branches you're not going to see the whole story in any given playthrough. And people don't read VNs the way they do books, and not as fast as they do books. They stop, they look at the pictures, they think about the choices they have to make. Wordcount isn't as useful except in a general sense.

I find it more useful to think about it in term of scenes. When I map out my plot, I'm linking together different scenes, and making sure that the "paths" through the game are more or less the same length. If I wanted to give someone a "novel-length" VN experience, then that player has to run into, say, 30-40 scenes in the course of a playthrough. If I wanted to go for more of a "short story" length, it might only be 5-10 scenes. If there's three branches, that means that a short-story length VN will have maybe 20 or so scenes.
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