The Last, Definitive Word On Word Count

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! For some reason, I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of talk lately about word counts. Perhaps it’s to do with NaNoWriMo approaching and everyone focusing on that crazy 50K-words-in-one-month goal? I’m not sure. Whatever the reason for the sudden hype, I think discussing the subject of word count is important.

word-countNow, do I think watching your word count every second of every draft is necessary? No. In fact, I strongly urge you against it. The more you focus on your word count, the less you focus on your story. However, watching your word count at certain points during the writing process–particularly editing–is important. Why? Because you don’t want to try and pitch your 140K YA novel to an agent. That’s just begging for rejection.

So what should a YA novel’s word count be? Or a thriller’s? Or another genre’s? Find out in today’s gem, courtesy of literary agent, Janet Reid. She gives us a quick, general breakdown of word count expectations, and what you should aim for when finalizing your manuscript.

The Last, Definitive Word On Word Count

Here’s the rundown:
Sweeping, epic fantasy: 150K at a minimum. You can’t do it right in less.
Sweeping, epic, historical fiction: 120 at a minimum. More is better.

Science fiction novels: 75-125K

Romance novels:65-100K
Womens’ fiction: 100K and up

To read the entire article and see all the genres, click here!

For more useful advice, follow Janet Reid on Twitter!

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Photo credits: 

Suck it Up and Writer Up – A Quick Update

The “butterflies” have begun to scatter, folks! The distractions are flying away and my focus is zooming in. Let’s all give a big cheer! 1…2…3…CHEER! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here.)

So, this past weekend, I decided it was time to suck it up and “writer up”. Close my doors, turn off my phone, and FOCUS on my manuscript.

screen-shot-2014-03-03-at-9-58-49-amOn Saturday, I woke up and told myself I wasn’t going to do anything but write. Forget cleaning the house. Forget my blog (sorry, guys). Forget checking email. Forget getting out of my pj’s or brushing my hair or putting makeup on. Saturday was gonna be all about writing. And it was!

Behold, a writer in the wild.

IMG_0680Yeah, scary stuff!

After a slow, writer-blockish start, I squeaked out 4,500 words on Saturday. Not too shabby. With nothing planned on Sunday, I decided to write all day again. The words came out faster and easier than the morning before. I was slowly, but surely, getting my rhythm back. Around noon, a giant “butterfly” tried to distract me when my sister called and asked if I wanted to go with her and my two nephews to the aquarium. I clenched my jaw, pushed down my “Oooh! Yes!” response, and said no. I told her I HAD to keep writing. It was painful, but necessary. I suppose those sort of sacrifices are when you’re trying to write a 100K manuscript in just a few months.

By Sunday night, I’d managed to write 6,000 more words. That made my weekend total 10,000+!

30-rock_401-liz-lemon-cheesy-blasters-1Woot-woot! Yeah, I was so happy! And not just because I’d written so much, but because I LIKED what I’d written. Yes, I know most of it will get revised/edited/chopped in future drafts, but, so far, I’m thoroughly enjoying the basic foundation I’ve created.

Yesterday, I went to work with the determination to find some time during the day to knock out a few more words, even 100. I didn’t care as long as I wrote something and kept the flow going. I didn’t want to lose my precious momentum.

Well, work ended up being really slow, so I basically had the entire day to write. And, almost too easily, I whipped out another 4,000 words. So, that puts me at approximately 14,000 words in three days. *high five self* I’m not gonna lie, I’m really proud of myself. And I’m determined to keep the pace up. I’m just about to leave for work now, and I’m hoping when I get there, I see it isn’t too hectic again. That way I can make another giant leap forward. *fingers crossed*

How about you? Are you making progress on your manuscript/project? If not, just tell yourself, “It’s time to suck it up and writer up!” It works! Trust me 🙂

NaNoWriMo – Into the jungle I go

Once again, I spent most of my weekend writing my booty off. On Saturday, I wrote over 10,000 words for Fallers, and on Sunday I (wearily) cranked out an additional 3,000. So, that puts my total NaNoWriMo word count at 42,000. Woo-wee! I’m finally starting to see the light at the end of the 50,000 word tunnel. And, if all goes as planned, I’ll reach it by next weekend.

But wait! Just because I’m about to hit the NaNo 50,000 word count goal doesn’t mean my journey is over. No, no, no. It’s only just begun! And it’s about to take a dreaded turn into the deep dark jungle I like to call, “The Middle”.

AHHH! Run for your lives!

romancing-the-stoneOr if you’re brave enough, follow me. Put on some bug spray, tighten your boots and grab a machete. It’s time to start hacking and chopping our way through an ever thickening plot filled with lions and tigers and bears (…fine, fine, “oh my!”).

Ugh, the mysterious, smothering, I-don’t-know-where-I-am-or-what’s-going-on middle. For me, it’s always been the hardest part of a first draft. It’s when all of my pre-plotting ceases to exist, my confidence seeps away, and my “Oh my god, this is so awesome” attitude implodes. It’s when I suddenly realize I need to connect the beginning I’ve written with the ending I’ve planned. And I need to do it in a seamless way that adds to the story, maintains the intensity and builds the momentum…Yeah, not easy.

diamant-vert4Navigating The Middle’s twisty-icky jungle is not only difficult, but discouraging. You’re constantly fighting off prowling beasts of doubt, swimming through plot swamps, and getting trapped in sticky, confusing webs. It’s a harrowing journey that threatens to attack and drown your story, your characters, and, most of all, your enthusiasm.

kathleen+turner+romancing+the+stoneThe only way to battle through it is to, well, battle through it. Put on some more bug spray, change your boots, and grip that machete tighter! Don’t let the cumbersome vines and branches hold you back or stop you from moving forward. Hack them down. Chop them to bits. Fight them off and keep moving forward.

Fight, fight, fight!

701_4And all the while dream of what awaits you on the other side of the tangled mess: The End!

Romancing-StoneIt doesn’t matter if you’re NaNoWriMo’ing or not. If you want to write a story, you’re gonna have to make the unwanted trek through The Middle. I hope for your sake your journey is easier than mine. But if it’s not, remember this: it’s gonna get revised. A lot! So don’t sweat the first draft (or two) too much. Just keep writing!

Hopefully by this time next week I’ll be able to announce I’ve successfully completed NaNoWriMo. And hopefully by early 2014,  I’ll be able to announce that I survived The Middle’s oppressive jungle and went on to finish an entire first draft of Fallers.

Side note: If you’ve never seen Romancing The Stone, you’re totally missing out! It’s a must-see, especially for authors.

Take that NaNoWriMo

On Friday I told myself I was going to do nothing this weekend but write. Write, write, write, write…And that’s what I did. When I woke up on Saturday, I was over 2,500 words behind on my NaNoWriMo project. By the time I went to bed last night, I was over 2,500 words ahead! I managed to write 7,ooo words worth on Saturday, and I squeezed out another 4,000 yesterday. Phew…

demotivation.us_Exhaustion-Is-the-best-proof-that-the-day-wasnt-wasted_132767036027Now, I know most of the stuff I’ve written so far will be heavily revised–most likely crumpled up and trashed–but it’s okay. I’m thoroughly enjoying the new path Fallers has taken so far. It’s a 100% new book. Even my protagonist isn’t the same. I’ve changed her name, her physical appearance and most of her personality. I’ve also taken the lead male from my previous drafts and bumped him up to co-star status. Now the chapters go back and forth between his and her POV’s (much like the Legend series format, but in third person). I’m finding this new structure is adding a deeper dynamic to the plot and driving the story forward in much more intriguing way…

Of course, it could all be junk and I’ll end up returning to a single POV. Who knows? This is what first drafts are all about: Risks, errors, victories, epiphanies, more errors, more epiphanies…Fun, fun, fun. Right?


So, how was your weekend, NaNoWriMo’ers? Catch up? Get ahead? Give up? DON’T GIVE UP! Go grab that piece of chocolate and take a deep breath and maybe cry a little. It’s okay to cry, remember?

Now, go get to work. Go, go, go! You can do it!

NaNo Update…And Stuff

As you may have noticed this week, my blog posts have slowed way down. Why, you ask? Because I have so much to do, and so little time! Honestly, November’s going to be a month where I just can’t find a moment to catch my breath. But, oh well. At least the things consuming my time and energy are the things I love to do most (reading/writing).

First: Flash Fiction Challenge 2013. I posted my horror story, “Why?” here, as well as on the NYC Midnight forum to receive feedback from the other competitors. To me, this is the best part of the competition (well, second best to actually writing the story). This is when I get vital feedback about my storytelling and writing skills. So far, the feedback for “Why?” has been positive. Yay! People seem to agree that I’m much better at writing horror than rom-com. Fine by me! Horror isn’t my normal genre, but it’s definitely closer than romantic comedy. Blerg!

In addition to all the positive feedback, there has also been constructive criticisms–AKA, golden nuggets. Like in Round 1 of this contest, I’ve learned so much about my bad writing habits, and the specific things I could improve upon. It’s so awesome. Stings for second, obviously, but then resonates and blooms into something useful and amazing.

As I’ve said time and again, I highly encourage other writers to enter these contests. They may not be the big, shiny manuscript you want published someday, but they’ll make that manuscript shine even brighter in the end.

Second: NaNoWriMo. Well, with the Flash Fiction Challenge swirling around me, things have gotten off to a slower start than I had planned with Fallers. I’ve been getting up every morning this week at 4 a.m. to squeeze in a couple of hours of writing before heading off to work. Unfortunately, it still hasn’t been enough. I’m currently behind by about 2,500 words. I’m not panicking…yet. For me, 2,5000 words isn’t that bad. I can knock that out in a couple of hours–usually. I plan on writing all weekend to catch up and then get ahead with Fallers. Then I won’t have to be waking up at such a godawful hour (yes, I’m yawning as I type this).

How about you? Doing okay this week? How’s NaNo? Don’t give up on it! This is when you really need to start digging deep and pushing through the pain. I’m sure most of your initial exhilaration and determination is wearing off, but don’t stop. Remember, keep swimming! You can do it!

…If there are typos in this post, forgive me. I don’t have time to proof it a hundred times like I usually do, lol!


Writing, Writing, Writing – Flash Fiction Challenge Round 2 and NaNo

Whew! I survived the weekend. Guess what I did? I wrote. A LOT!

First off was Round 2 of the Flash Fiction Challenge 2013. Now, things got off to a bit of a rocky start Friday afternoon when I received my results from Round 1. (Yeah, not happy about that. It gave me no time to absorb the results, and worse, no explanation as to why I received those results.) Only the top 15 stories in each group got points. If you didn’t score high enough, you received zero. I received zero. Why? I don’t know! Haha! Over 400 people read Muck and Mire,  and I’d say 95% of those people loved it. A few even told me it was their favorite…I’m guessing my risky format got me disqualified. Or the person who judged it happened to be in that 5% who didn’t care for it. *Shrug*. I’ll find out later this week the exact reasons for my low score and get back to you.

I’m not going to lie, I was upset for about an hour after I saw my zero point scoring. Then I laughed. Because, come on, what else can you do? Rejection hurts, and unfortunately, we writers work in the Industry of Rejection. It happens and it happens often (well, for most of us). The only way to survive is to laugh, brush off the sting, and move on. Which I did. I woke up on Saturday with a positive outlook for Round 2. I eagerly opened the email with my next assignment:

Picture 1

First thought? Phew! After being assigned romantic comedy for Round 1, I figured I’d be assigned something darker and more serious for Round 2 (mystery, horror, drama, ghost story). Of all those, I’d been hoping for horror. I’ve never written a full one and wanted to try. Plus, with Halloween just behind us, I was still in a horror-mindset. So, I was very happy to see that as my genre. The only thing that threw me off was the crowded beach location. I had some cool ideas for horror, but none of them worked with a CROWDED beach. So that was going to be the true challenge in this round.

I ended up taking a much different approach for Round 2 than Round 1. In Round 1, I was stressed and crazy and frantic. This time, I decided to kick back, relax and just have fun with it. So, instead of plopping myself down in front of my computer first thing Saturday morning, I went to the gym. While I worked out, I brainstormed concepts for my story. Then on my way home I called my favorite critic, my mom, to bounce ideas off of her (I wasn‘t going to repeat my time wasting mistake from Round 1 and work all day on a story that was “blah”). With my mom’s valuable input, I was able to nail down my concept by the time I got home from the gym.

But did I head straight for my computer to start writing? Nope. I decided to shower and eat a nice breakfast instead. Relax, relax, relax. That was my motto.

meditation1Finally, after a second cup of coffee, I sat down and began writing my horror story. Within two hours, I had a solid rough draft. I sent it to my mom to read and approve. She loved it (phew!). So, I took another two hours to embellish and edit it. Thankfully, I only had to worry about chopping 50 words to make the 1,000 word count limit (not 500 words like I had to cut from Muck and Mire). I wisely stuck to a much more traditional format this time, just in case that was why I bombed Round 1. And I stayed away from anything funny (since comedy was part of the last round), hence I didn’t go with my zombie seals idea ;-).

Now, will the judges like the story I came up with? Who knows. I hope so, but after Round 1, I can’t expect them to. It’s sooo subjective. I do know that I had a lot of fun writing the story (titled, Why?) and I really like how it turned out. Horror is such a chillingly wonderful genre to dive into. I can’t wait to post it for you guys in a few days. Stay tuned!

Now, all of that happened on Saturday. I still had to work on Fallers for NaNoWriMo. And because of the flash fiction contest, I was behind by almost 4,000 words. Great start, right? Haha, ugh…So, I buckled down and wrote all day Sunday until I reached my quota and then some.

My current NaNo word count is 5,600 words.

So, I survived my crazy writing weekend. And as exhausted as I am, I feel great. I’m excited about my horror story for Round 2 of NYC’s Flash Fiction Contest 2013, and I like the new direction I’ve taken Fallers during NaNo. Hopefully the good times keep rolling! I just need to stay relaxed and have fun with my writing. I think that’s key.

How about you? Feeling good about your writing? How’s NaNo for those participating?