Thursday, April 28, 2011

"W" Is For Word Count

When I started writing, I obsessed over word count.  I panicked when chapters were too long and banned myself from moving forward until they were trimmed to a manageable size.  I worry about not having the 'room' to complete my story.  At times, I even catch myself going into earlier chapters and compulsively deleting, just so I feel better about my length (Thankfully, I save the original so when I come to my senses, no permanent damage has been created).

I can't say I've cured my obsession, but I'm better than I used to be.  I still run a word count for each chapter and keep a cumulative total for the manuscript.  But, I also understand everything at this stage is tentative. I anticipate cutting a good 30,000 words in revisions, which will put my manuscript in the average range for a YA Contemporary.

How does your word count change during the revision process?  Do you find yourself doing more adding or subtracting?

10 comments:

  1. I'm in the revisions stage at the moment and I'm painfully aware of the word count. What I find, though,is it tends to balance out. When I cut a scene, I invariably end up adding somewhere else. That's when I try to remind myself it's not about the word count, it's about good pacing.

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  2. I say just plow on until you get to the end. You're too invested in it right now.

    I think you'll find once you've got the entire story down, it'll be far easier to cut unnecessary scenes, characters etc -- you'll have a wide view of the story then (plus, you'll not have looked at it for a couple weeks before you even think about that, right? RIGHT?)

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  3. During a recent major revision I ended up cutting 5000 words but adding 10,000. Sometimes it works the other way for me as well.

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  4. Here's to making it this far, congratulations! I have an award for you!!

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  5. I pay attention to my word count, especially if it's on the low side. But I never delete content until the editing stage because I don't know exactly how the story is going to turn out.

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  6. You made my best of A-Z list. Check out the post at the link below.

    Lisa
    InspiredbyLisa – Best of the A-Z Challenge

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  7. To be honest with you I haven't counted a single word of my first novel so far, though I am still only 2/3 of the way through the first draft.

    What happened to your x,y and z posts???

    Duncan In Kuantan

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  8. I watch it all the time,but during the revision process it's not a stressful. I think it's because I'm more focused on working things out and developing.

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  9. Lynda - good point; pacing is key. I also think other people are better at helping us identify where to cut than the person who wrote it - at least in my case. I want to keep everything, but when others point out something is unnecessary, I usually take their advice.

    David - Sigh...right....but it is going to be REALLY hard for me. I have looked at it EVERY day for the past twenty months, minus a short break I gave myself for Christmas.

    Paul - I'm sure I'll be adding in the name of clarification, but I will have to cut more to make room for it. I'd rather cut than add :)

    Elizabeth - Thanks. Congrats on completing the challenge!

    Karen - Explain - what is this 'low side' you speak of....I have NEVER had that problem, haha. I'm always way, waaaaaaaay over!

    Lisa - Thanks for including me!

    Duncan - You caught me! I'm all blogged out and I could not come up with any ideas. Rather than spitting out garbage for the sake of posting, I decided to...hide....I didn't think anyone would notice. Busted....

    Holly - I'm hoping that is the case for me also. Yet another reason I'm anxious to begin revising.

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  10. I'm always told I write too much, so naturally I have to cut them down. I have a problem when I can't move on until that one thing that I was writing (or chapter) is cut down to size right away. It's a screwy business, but what are ya gonna do?
    Ava

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