Category Archives: musings

word counts omg

This is a bit of an awkward question, but I’m sort of wondering if anyone else is as morbidly interested and curious about word counts as I am? I found this post here (sidenote: I really recommend this blog!) : http://nicolehumphrey.net/word-count-for-famous-novels/

and this author went through a lot of the more well-known novels and listed the word count. For whatever reason, I LOVE knowing exactly how long the Harry Potter books, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and other books I’ve loved, are. And I love the range. There are novels that clock in around 30,000 words, while others are monsters up around 600K (I can’t even imagine writing something that long O_o).

I’m the type who doesn’t plan through any of my writing before I start–I just begin, and the story takes me where it wants to go (yes, sometimes this is rough.) But I’m thinking, maybe the fact that I write this way has something to do with my fascination with word counts. I don’t plan; (most of) the content and the length are a mystery to me in the beginning. So, how long it takes me to get the story down, how many words end up being enough, is hard to predict. The shortest novel I’ve ever wrote is around 75,000 words. The longest is around 120,000. So, I really don’t have a gaping range (I’ve written six novels. Not all of these are final versions, obviously). The average novel is 80,000 words or so, so…I’m pretty predictable for an  unpredictable person. Another thing I like about the whole word count stats thing, is that it gives me an idea of how the book I’m writing will feel in my hand once I’ve published it–how thick, how many pages in a paperback format. It’s so different from how it appears on microsoft word.

I’ve noticed looking through the list on Nicole’s blog, that all of my favorite books are under 200K. Of course, most of the books on that list are under that number. It just leads me to pondering other questions, like:

~Is there a limit to how long a novel can get while maintaining the quality of the story and the writing?~

I’m tempted to say no to this. It’s my gut response, and maybe I’m right. I’ve read some good, LONG books (East of Eden by John Steinbeck springs to mind, as well as the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, as well as a lot of epic fantasy I’ve read) and I’m not sure whether such stories could be told as well if the word count were chopped in half. But then again, maybe this is because I’ve never been presented with a more concise version of a long and much-loved work.  Well, like many an author (I’m guessing this is a common, vague sort of dream a lot of us have : P) I’ve always wanted to write a whopper of my own; maybe I’ll find out ; ). )

~ C

beh 023

just for fun: the shortest book I own (40 pages) atop the longest (1,066 pages).

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time for some embarrassing facts, re: editing & I

Editing.

It’s the bane of many a writer’s sordid existence. In fact, I’ve tried to get around it for years. Yes, you’ve read that right. It’s understandable that when I wrote my first stories, I didn’t edit them at all: I was all of nine years old. But when I started writing poetry the summer after high school ended, I decided poetry was a different beast altogether. Poetry struck me in inspirational little lines scribed in the back of my head, and so was exempt from all the natural proceedings! Poetry was a gift from the gods! Poetry was certainly ABOVE editing; it was too lyrical, too abstract, too confined to the moment. I suffered from the impression that the way the words flowed out of me was the way they should stay; otherwise, I’d be untrue to the feel of the moment, and poetry is always trying to capture the feel of a moment, or several moments.

Obviously my writing suffered from this, though I didn’t think so at the time. I learned the value of rethinking line breaks (or thinking about them at all, which it’s hard to do the first time around), and noticed that when I wasn’t in the rush to get everything down before the mood or inspiration faded, I could afford to find word choices that might *gasp* EVEN BETTER describe what I was feeling at the time. If I wrote the poem down well enough the first time, I could retrieve the mood in which I wrote it and live in that place while I edited. My poetry editing became two-fold: I’d write the poem down as it came to me, when it came to me, and then I’d let it sit for a day at the least. I’d come back to it again the next day and if I still liked it well enough, I’d write up a copy on my laptop, this time inserting final line breaks and shifting my words about, and even deleting/adding sections as I saw fit. Poetry editing had lost its negative stigma for me; now I can’t see how I ever went without it.

I treat novelling different than I do poetry, both in the way I write a book and the way I edit. When I write a story, I feel as though there must be massive changes made, somehow, to the structure of the thing, before I can concentrate on grammar. There’s ALWAYS a better way I could have put something; my inner novel editor, unlike the one who edits my poetry with me, is a picky bitch. I can’t sweep through a chapter of a novel, only covering grammar and spelling mistakes, and feel I’ve done a thorough job. Therefore, while I can go through a poem once or twice and feel it has been editing to its best, it’s not uncommon that I NEVER feel my novels are properly polished.

I’ve recently begun to wonder why this is. Do others have this problem? Does anyone else who writes both poetry and prose feel that editing one is easier than the other? Maybe I should look at my novel more how I’m looking at my poetry: take it in pieces, look for discrepancies in plot and character, but pay attention to the wording in the way I attend to the rise and fall of the words in poetry. I hope for, one day, my two internal editors to become one.

For now I’ll go back to working on editing a book that totals 214 pages in Microsoft Word, and try not to cry about it ; )

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