Category Archives: Word Count

Hitting the halfway point and making it to “The End.”

Champagne (c) Design4Y

It may be a few days late (two, to be exact), but I hit 40,000 words in The Dream War Saga Book 2! And, better yet, I think the first draft of this book may come in around 80,000 instead of 100,000 words, so this means I’m at the halfway point! What the freak? How did that happen?

I already know a lot of what I’ve written will have to be tweaked or flat-out changed, but that’s fine. At least now the first half of the story has a shape, something for me to chisel and chip away from or mold and add to.

Hopefully–if my grand plans work out (which, honestly, they rarely do)–I will have a good portion of the book done before I really dive into edits on Sing, Sweet Nightingale in a couple of weeks. Also hopefully, the books will continue to be creepier than I could have imagined and make me question my own sanity more than usual. Because it’s totally been doing that so far and it’s actually really fun!

Is it weird that I think being able to question my own sanity is fun? More than likely. Seriously, though, this book has been surprising in some really interesting ways and I can’t wait to see where the rest of it goes!

Goals: Not meeting them and setting them anyway

As I’ve said already, I had a winter break this year! It was like a mini-preview of what life as a full time writer will be like and I wish I could have made it last longer. I set myself a goal for the week with both a minimum acceptable level and a slightly higher “aim for” level. I needed at least 20,000 words written in the last week, but I really wanted to hit 40,000 words total in the MS which meant writing 25,000 words.

Those extra 5,000 words may not seem like a ton, but it was enough to make the goal a stretch without making it impossible. And it was enough that I didn’t make it much higher than my minimum goal. At the end of the night yesterday, I was at 36,452 words in The Dream War Saga Book 2.

What I learned from this week is that, especially when you’re writing for yourself (the remainder of TDWS isn’t yet under contract), self-guided goals and deadlines are really important to make the most of the time you have. I am amazingly good at procrastinating and wasting time with very little to show for it, so unless I know I have some sort of progress bar to meet, I tend to lollygag.

I’m actually more than a little proud of myself for even writing 21,000 words this past week considering the week contained two major holidays, a sister visiting from out of state, and friends visiting from out of town. I think I can still hit 40,000 by the end of the week (it’s harder now because I’m back at my day job and so a lot of the day is devoted to that), but at least now I know I’m capable of pushing forward on a manuscript every day and that writing full time is actually a feasible option for me.

That’s really all I have to say this morning, but I’d like to leave you with this unrelated but incredibly pretty picture:

The Path to Fulfillment (c) Annika Banfield

Happy 2013! Hope your year is starting off well!

At this time last year I was…

Agenda 3 (c) Dragan Rusov

For some reason it hit me yesterday that a year has passed.

“Well, of course it has,” you say. “Technically a year has passed every single day.”

True, but it’s more significant this month, at least to me. This is National Novel Writing Month and this is the month where everything started changing for the better very quickly in my life.

Quickly is a relative word, especially when we’re talking about writing and the publication process, but looking back I have to admit that everything did happen very fast. “How so?” you ask. To illustrate, here’s a recap of my year from November 2011 to November 2012:

November 2011: Begin writing novel version of Sing, Sweet Nightingale for NaNoWriMo
December 2011: Go back through SSN and make significant changes because, you know, first drafts and all.
January 2012: Frantically try to polish first 30 pages to submit to writing contests; squeeze in under the deadline of said contests and then try to forget I entered them
February 2012: Begin planning trip to BEA in NYC
March 2012: Find out SSN is a finalist in one of the previously mentioned contests
April 2012: Finalize plans for BEA 2012
May 2012: My birthday! Also, I find out SSN won the Marlene Award!
June 2012: Attend BEA. Crash a party at Lani Woodland’s insistence. Meet Danielle and Patricia. Send Danielle and Patricia my book. Have first Skype call with Danielle and Patricia about possible revisions.
July 2012: SSN officially becomes a future publication from Spencer Hill Press!
August 2012: Get so-called preliminary edit instructions that somehow turn into a rewrite project. Spend month stressing.
September 2012: See August
October 2012: Send SSN revision off to betas and CPs. Breathe sigh of relief. Later this month, spend ten hours in one week on Skype with Lani plotting books 2 and 3. Even later this month, do more tweaks on SSN and send book plus new outlines plus notes plus other random goodies to Danielle and Patricia
November 2012: Send EVEN MORE goodies to Danielle and Patricia. Wait with barely concealed anticipation/eagerness/terror/etc. for scheduled editorial Skype chat. Also, begin NaNo, this time working on three projects at once including the as yet untitled Dream War Saga Book 2.

That has been my writing-related year. I did other things too–finish first drafts of two different contemporary YA projects I really love, write a short story in TDWS universe, connect with the amazing Twitterverse of writerly people, and other things I can’t even think of right now–but the timeline above are my big moments and why realizing a year has passed since last November is a nostalgic moment for me. November is also the home of Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday!), so I wanted to take this time to have a gratefulness moment. Sometimes it may feel like the ultimate goal (holding a physical copy of my book) is so far away, but at least the end is finally in sight. I’m working with editors I adore and I have a support network who is amazing. All-in-all, this past year has been very good for me. I’m even on track to knock out most of my New Years Resolutions! 2012 was great, 2013 will be even better, and I have high hopes that 2014 will be a banner year!

Don’t forget to enjoy the moment you’re in. You never know when you’ll suddenly be standing a year in the future going, “Wow. Remember when…?”

Stories: Sometimes You Don’t Need Words

Before I get into the actual reason for this post, I’m going to gloat for a minute. Somehow I managed to cut out about 4000 words of filler from my novel Sing Sweet Nightingale yesterday! I’m still not sure how the number managed to get that high, but it needs to happen again today. I have to get the word count down to around 100,000! Not an easy task…

Anywho, a while ago I posted work by a photographer that was also a really vivid story. Stories can actually be told in a million different ways, many of which don’t involve words at all. Today I’m going to share two new stories, one a short move with no dialogue and one photographer who is chronicling the childhood of his two girls. [click on the above link to see some of his photos]

I found Jason Lee through a post on and it tells the story of photographer Jason Lee and his highly energetic, and very creative, daughters. While the actual photography and technical aspects come from Jason, according to the article a lot of the photo ideas (click here to see the article or here for his personal blog) come from the girls! Each one is its own self-contained story and they’re all a lot of fun!

Second, this video is making the rounds on Facebook. I’m not going to say much about it because I don’t think it needs explanation. Once you get to the end, I believe it’ll be pretty obvious why the director produced the project this way.


Enjoy the rest of your weekend! I’m off to machete my book some more.

I just came across this secondary video about the team who made the video above. I found it really interesting, so I thought I’d share.

Writing: The Mythos Of Word Counts

Especially during National Novel Writing Month, writers can get a tad preoccupied with word count. In fact, I’ve read posts by more than a handful of authors who refuse to have anything to do with NaNoWriMo because they believe it promotes the production of pointless fluff. I’m kind of in the middle on the subject. One of the reasons I’ve never participated in NaNo before is because the idea of writing 50,000 words just to write 50,000 words never appealed. I joined this year because I had a story to tell and I wanted the support of a community of writers all striving toward the same goal. Now I have a novel and I’m editing it, but word count is still something to consider.

My NaNo project is a YA paranormal. Will editors automatically discount a YA book over 100,000 words? How long is too long? I want my story told the way it needs to be told, but it won’t be told at all if they never look at because of a few thousand words. Colleen Lindsay, a one-time agent, talks about word counts at length here. Read her post. It’s highly informative, covering not only the rules, but the exceptions to those rules. It talks about editor’s expectations and the exceptions sometimes made for bestselling and series authors.

This information is useful. It’s a good guideline and a good goal. Just be careful about letting it become the be-all end-all of your writing. Another post I found at a blog called The Writer’s Alley talks about how an obsession with the literal word count can be a detriment to your work. If you’re too stuck on the tally at the bottom of the screen, you’ll end up cutting scenes that shouldn’t go or adding scenes just to fill the “quota.” Word count is an important factor, but your story is more important. If your book is not the best you can make it–with whatever word count is necessary–then how many words you have won’t matter. Write the best story you can and then polish it until it shines. Whatever the word count, it will find a home eventually.