Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Is This A Problem

My first instincts tell me maybe, but then the old saying of 'a story takes as long as it takes to tell the whole story' rings through the vacant space which I refer to as my mind.

I'm going to struggle to make 50k in my current WIP. A little while back, Cate mentioned she was struggling to find wordage and thought I'd have no problems reaching my goal. At the time I said I didn't think that was the case. Tonight I did a new outline of the last third of the book based on a new scene I had an idea for. I managed to re-script chapter 11 entirely, reworked chapter 12, and added a new chapter 13.

Total plot now plays out over 16 chapters instead of 15. Current average length of each chapter sits at 2100 words (some longer, some shorter). That math seems to suggest a first draft of 33600k, somewhat short of my target...

I know I want to go back and add in some additional layers, so I don't really see an issue with being able to legitimately move the wordage up close to 40k.

So I guess that's what I'm really looking at as my first target. I have a couple of other scenes which may need to be played out in the beginning of the book, but I'm not sure if they're needed and won't really know until the first draft is done.

The question I'd like to ask you: Should I drop my target at this point? If yes, should it go to 33.6k or 40k? If no, then do I stop and continue to work the outline to expand the scenes I think I need?

Am I thinking too much and should I just shut up and write the story, and who really cares about wordage and percentages anyway?

Did I just answer my own questions?

So I've done some writing last night and again tonight, as well as the new outline which is fairly detailed. I've also managed to complete another third of my current book-for-review. I'll finish 'This Is Not A Game' tomorrow and write up a first draft review (hint: it's a good book to this point), and then round out this weeks WIP total with a couple more hours on the laptop.

If things continue as they are, Nathan Steele, Book One (still looking for catchy title), will have it's first draft complete by the end of September. It's something to aim for...


  1. At this point, I'd say you're thinking too much. I shoot for 2,000 words per chapter as well, then just write. New ideas will come to you (and you already know this)as you're writing, adding to the length.

  2. Proposed first book in a series has to be ripe for an extended prologue/epilogue, perhaps introduce a few elements throughout the piece which will only fully fall into place in the next book.

  3. Nathan Steele - Tempered Tantrum? Lost and Foundry?

    I'll get my coat...

  4. I feel wordage and percentages should never be strictly enforced. A story is done when it's done.

  5. I am going to agree with Laura and Rebecca on this. It will be as long as it needs to be. I am sure new plot twists will turn up. Just see where the story takes you. It is a first draft after all.

  6. I've tried to impose my own restrictions, only to have them explode in my face.

    Ha, self.


    That has to be a name of a character.

  7. I would be on Team Laura, Rebecaa and Jamie...the story will play itself out the length that it needs to be.

  8. I'm with them. Sometimes asking yourself to add more words can allow you to explore an aspect of the story you might've left out in the name of word count, of course. But when there's nothing there to explore, you just end up with a lot of self-involved, not-at-all-entertaining... words.

    Your instincts are right, I think. Whatever it takes to tell the story right, and the rest will come later!

  9. The more thinking I do, the less writing I get done.

  10. I am going to give you some advice that I myself will ignore during my hourly fretting sessions: The story is as long as it needs to be. / The only person putting pressure on you to reach the goal you originally stated is you. / Chances are a wonderful idea will have you spinning so many extra words you're going to worry about going over.


  11. Yeah, that's kind of what I figured you'd all say, and I know it's right but I still have this nagging doubt over length.

    Is that a male thing?

    Anton, I'll grab your hat and we can leave together...

  12. I'd shoot for 40k and not stress too much if you fall short. The last thing you want to do is pad the story, or feel as if you might be padding it.

  13. I think just write the story - get everything you need down and worry about the word count at the end. If you stress too much it might start to affect the flow of the story.

  14. I think ultimately my problem still lies in considering 30-40k being light on for a 'real' novel.

    I know that's not the case. I know there are lots of examples out there to prove books of this length can sell and sell well, but I'm just not 100% sold on the idea.

    30-40k is a novella where I learned about manuscript/story length, and an old dog like me finds it hard to change rules like that in the noggin.

    I guess I need to just write it, polish it, and submit it and let the market decide. If I get good feedback, maybe that will be the turning point in my thinking.

    Maybe I should just kill the bean and report only weekly wordage and overall count. In fact that sounds like an excellent idea...

  15. I agree with Nat - write first, worry later. ;)