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I always assumed 50k was the goal because that's the bare minimum to be considered a novel (er, right?). You can't hit 35k and say "I wrote a novel!" but you can, sort of, if you hit 50k. And it's easier to have one goal that can apply to all participants (including those writing MG, who probably shouldn't be aiming for 80-100k?). 50k is also, I think, close to respectable if you're writing category genre (I'm thinking like romances for Love Inspired or something, I don't know what their mandates are but I think those have to be in the neighborhood of 55k?) But anyway, re: why word count matters outside of NaNo, super helpful walkthrough! :)

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