Category Archives: Word Count

Word Count and Finding Your Voice

I finished the first draft of Lost & Found this week and the writing process for this novel allowed me to finally find the correct voice and tone for all of the Gabby Wells novels.  It was weird to me that it took two novels (that have since been trashed) and three novellas to find the voice for the overall storyline.  But, that’s just what happened.

When I was about half way through Lost & Found, when I was making Gabby’s life miserable to biblical proportions, it started to feel right.  When I was actually tapping the words on the keyboard, all of the elements started to coalesce and I felt a creative momentum building.  When I was done with the draft, it made me realize two really important things:

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The first was that I had to now match the tone with the other novellas.  It actually won’t be that hard in Skyway.  But The Homecoming Incident was much lighter and would need to grow darker and more gritty.  I have some ideas which will help and they tie into the second thing I realized.

The second thing was that my brother Paul was right and all of these novellas should actually be turned into novels.  That means adding an additional 10-20k words to each one.  With the new tone and approach, it makes sense that the scope needs to widen and it would need to get darker.  I also want to do a better job of layering in the spiritual elements Gabby deals with too.  Not in a preachy way (I hate that) but in the overall world of the story.  It’ll make more sense if/when you read the books.

This continual shifting in approach does bring with it a level of frustration, however.  I feel like the novels are like a bathtub with the plug pulled and no matter how much I write, the words still spin down the drain.  It’s like I’ll never get finished.  But, I have to move forward because these decisions are the right thing to do.  I just want to be able to check off “done” on one of these manuscripts so I can move onto the editing/book cover phase and get them to market.

And I’m sure, at some point, years from now when all of the novels are completed, people will comment on how it all seemed so planned out from the beginning and I’ll just laugh and send them to my blog entries which show the continuous alterations we’ve made since starting this process years ago.

I just have to keep plugging along.  I have some time over the holiday weekend and I haven’t decided whether to start on the third novella or rewrite The Homecoming Incident first in order to be able to check something off my list.  My heart tells me I should start on the third novella Tears & Miracles, but my impatient brain is telling me to rewrite the first one.  I’ll let you know what I came up with.

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Word Count and Wreaking Hovac

Been very efficient this past week, typing out over 12,000 words.  I’m nearing the end of the first draft of Lost & Found and I must say I’ve really enjoyed putting Gabby through hell.

Writers have an odd relationship with the characters they love.  They create them, cherish them, give them hopes, dreams, goals, loves and then expend all of their energy trying to destroy every single one of them.  Not all at once, of course.  Just a little bit at a time.

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When I started this novella I didn’t intend to make Gabby’s life so miserable.  It just sort of turned out that way.  And for the better, from a story perspective.  In crisis is where we see what someone is truly made of, what friendships really mean, which convictions are founded in stone or sand.  I’m not sure how much suffering still awaits Gabby in final chapters of Lost & Found, but I’m sure it’ll be just a little more.

As long as it makes the story stronger, its worth it.  She won’t mind.

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Word Count and 50,000

Plotting out Lost & Found has really come in handy.  In a week I’ve written nearly 8,000 words.  The story is humming along.  I’m about half-way through, so it should end up in the 30,000 – 40,000 range, like the rest.

GW-Wordcount-061714I have been amazed how changes in the market, or new information I have come across during the learning process, has altered my approach.  These novellas exist because of a podcast I heard a few months ago.  The more I learn, the more I want to set myself up for success.  Sometimes, that requires changing my path.

There is one option out there that I have not yet decided on.

Bookbub is “a free service that helps millions of readers discover great deals on acclaimed ebooks while providing publishers and authors with a way to drive sales and find new fans.”  This has been used extensively, and often with great success, by many independent authors.  Just because you want to use Bookbub doesn’t mean you can.  They are selective about who they promote and you have to meet their criteria.  One of those criteria is that the book has to be at least 50,000 words.

They don’t promote novellas.

Now they also want your book to have great reviews on Amazon and, preferably, critical acclaim from sources other than readers.  So, the word count isn’t the only hurdle, but one of the basic ones.

So, as I write, I wonder, “Should these novellas be short novels instead, 50,000 words, so promotional opportunities could be made available to me?”

I don’t know the answer to that question yet.  I don’t want to add words for the sake of word count.  I want to add words because they make the story better.  As mentioned in a previous blog, Skyway will probably leap over the 50,000 word limit by the time it is done.  But, when I look at the rest of the novellas, I’m not sure almost doubling The Homecoming Incident will make it any better.  And, at this point, Lost & Found doesn’t feel like a 50,000 word short novel.

What does all of this mean?  It means I haven’t made up my mind.

I won’t know for sure until all of the novellas are written. Because, when that is done, I want to look at them as a whole, as one large character arc, and see what has to be altered to maximize their overall effect.  Maybe that process will require additional words.

But will that turn into five 50,000 word short novels?

Only time will tell.

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Wordcount and Writing Backwards

I’ve been chugging along slowly, but surely.  Mostly slowly.  I was able to draft almost 7500 words on the Lost & Found novella before I slowed things down.  I realized that I knew the end of the story, but some of the middle parts were fuzzy. And, since I was diving head first into writing the middle section, I knew I had to clear things up.

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In order to hash out the blank spots in my storyline, I decided to write backwards.  Or, better said, outline backwards.  Since I knew how it ended, I wanted to make sure every step in the story lead me there.  Plot point by plot point, I outlined backwards, identifying what happened in that plot section and what was the hook to make the reader want to continue on.  Eventually I made it through the fuzzy middle and to where my actual writing had stopped.

Now I have to move forward again, one word at a time, fleshing out those plot sections with dialogue, action and character.  Yes, that’s the hardest part, especially on the first draft, but at least I’ve devised a road map to get there.

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Word Count & Novella 3 (Really 2)

I finally finished the first draft of Skyway, one of the novellas of our five novella series.  It’s placement in the series has shifted, as I mentioned before, moving from novella #2, to novella #4.  The current word count is just over 40,000 and will probably need another 2,000-3,000 when all is said and done.

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That means the third novella I’ll be working on, titled Lost & Found, will actually be novella #2 in the series.  I’ve sketched out the storyline and will now work on a chapter-by-chapter outline before diving into daily writing.

As for the first novella, The Homecoming Incident, which also still happens to be novella #1 (haha), it has been out with our teen Beta Readers.  Quick tips about teen Beta Readers.

  1. They don’t understand the concept of time.  Agreeing to read it in two weeks has meant trying to get them to do it four weeks later.
  2. They don’t give detail.  We offer our beta readers an anonymous survey to fill out so they could be free to share their true feelings.  Teens, however, aren’t really chatty, especially in a survey.  You get a lot of “I like it.” Or “It was cool.”  But, not a lot of detail, like you get from adult Beta Readers.

Lesson learned.  On future surveys, they’ll be longer and ask very specific questions that will give us the info we need.  Since they’re our target demographic, we’ll be patient.  But, be forewarned 🙂

Two novellas down, three to go.

 

 

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Word Count & Tossing Out 145,000 Words

I finished up the first draft of the novella Skyway this weekend.  It ran long, as I expected, and will probably be even longer when I get it through the Beta Readers.  But it’s a fun ride that starts out with a kick and throws in cool plot twists at the end of nearly every chapter.

Since the five novellas setup the five novels, the big decision this weekend came from the fact that, after having penned almost 70,000 novella words so far, that the 145,000 words I had already written for Novels 1 & 2  had to be thrown out.

The first novel, Water & Blood had already run through the first group of Beta Readers and the second novel, Shadows & Lies had already been hashed out once at around 80,000 words and was in the process of a second rewrite.  Both of them needed to be trashed, leaving a fresh, clean slate.

Because of that, I changed the graphic below to focus on the novellas until they’re all complete.

GW-Wordcount-050414The plots of the trashed novels will remain the same, but the actual way the story unfolds will need to be updated to take into consideration the content of the novellas.

Am I happy about losing years of work and over a hundred thousand words?  Nope.   But, it’s the right thing to do, so there wasn’t really another choice.

 

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Word Count & Nearing the Finish Line

Getting over the hump sure has helped.  In a little over a week I was able to write 10,000 words and probably have another 3,000 ahead of me before putting Skyway aside.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the scope and placement of Skyway has changed and the ripple effect of those changes won’t be completely felt for the next few months.  The biggest challenge is that Gabby’s faith journey in this novella will be different than intended and I won’t know exactly where she is in her faith journey until I write the two other novellas that precede Skyway.

Therefore, I’ve left the faith aspect in Skyway purposely vague and will fill in those gaps when I see where Gabby is and where she needs to be in the grand scheme of these five novellas.

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This novella has been a challenge, but for all of the right reasons.  I can’t wait to finally put it to bed and start working on novella number two… well, the new novella number two.

 

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Word Count & Getting Over the Hump

This week was a tough one, writing-wise.  As mentioned on our last podcast, the second novella, Skyway, takes place over a continuous 36 hour period.  Because of this limitation and a lot of the moving parts having to do with plot and character, what would normally be a smooth process has been quite a struggle.

Fortunately, we are on the other side of that obstacle and nearing the finish line on this draft.  There’s still one major plot challenge ahead of us, and it’s a biggie, but it’s for the right reasons.  I’ll post more about that next week.  However, I’m excited to get this first draft on Skyway done as soon as possible so I can go back and give it a good reshaping/polishing.

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Another exciting development is we’ll be sending out our first novella, The Homecoming Incident, to our second group of Beta Readers in the next week or so.  When starting with a group of Beta Readers, there is always a bit of coordination and logistics involved in getting the material to them via Kindle or other forms.  That adds some time the first time you do it.  After that, it goes very quickly.

This second group of Beta Readers are all within our target demographic, so I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

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Word Count & Rewrites

I did a lot of writing, but not that added a lot to the word count. I did add a couple of thousand words to Skyway, but spent most of the time re-writing The Homecoming Incident based on our Beta Reader feedback.  The end result was a couple of hundred more words in total, but a better story as a whole.

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I also invested quite a bit of time hashing out the Skyway plot.  It’s not a complex plot, but it has enough moving parts that, if you don’t take them into consideration, the reader will be pulled out of the story.  I know exactly where I want to story to travel, but the specific steps within it require that all of the tentacles of the story remain connected and believable.

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Word Count & Beta Readers

The first Gabby Wells novella, The Homecoming Incident, is in the hands of my first group of Beta Readers.  Can’t wait to hear their responses, make the tweaks and send it to our second group of Beta Readers.

I’m about one-third of the way through the first draft of the second novella titled Skyway.

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Not all 1500 words a day ended up on the page of Skyway.  Some went to quick fixes on The Homecoming Incident and some went toward outlining Skyway.  All that being said, however, I’m very happy with the 9,000 words I was able to write this week.

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