Before I continue, let me state that my use of the term “under-achiever” in this particular post is not in its usual derogatory tone, but rather something I aspire to be as a writer in reference to the dreaded Word Count.
For example, if a novel in your genre is typically 90K words then you have achieved that goal when you reach approximately 90K words. If you finish your novel significantly less than that, then you have quite literally under-achieved. Right?
Contrarily, if you were to write…oh, say, a Paranormal Romance novel…and comes in at almost 135K WORDS, then you’ve by far surpassed the status of over-achieving and gone straight to, “Oh my God!”
That’s right, you guessed it. I went WAY over an acceptable first-novel-word-count. Now, I’ve looked at my scenes from every angle possible and tried to picture my story without them and just can’t bring myself to cut any of them except one. But as I was going through my MS this time I realized something about halfway through. Cutting scenes isn’t my problem. It’s cutting words.
I was always confused when I heard authors say, “I’m doing line edits now.” What the heck were line edits? Who, in their right mind, would go back and analyze every line in their book? I’ll tell you who. A writer who knows what the hell they’re doing, that’s who.
The first run-through of my MS on these latest edits (which were complete overhauls, I might add) I was taking out all of the unnecessary “that” uses and correcting paragraph breaks. Easy stuff like that. Because after all, I thought, I've done so much work on this thing, there's only going to be MINOR edits that need to be done now. It's basically a done deal.
But once I started getting closer to the middle I realized there was A LOT of text I could cut just by choosing different words. For instance, I could take a sentence like this:
“Your body can’t digest regular food now that you’re a vampire.”
And change it to this:
“Vampires can’t digest regular food.”
For my purposes, the second sentence works just as well as the first, but it knocked 6 words off of my count. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but they add up fast.
Another habit I have that adds to my superfluous word count is my love for description. But I go overboard. I add in so many adjectives and adverbs that it turns a perfectly succinct sentence into an entire paragraph. I wax poetic until the reader forgets what the hell it is I’m waxing about. (Okay, maybe I’m not that bad, but you get the picture.) But whether you call it babbling or embellishing, it all has the same result.
Too. Many. Words.
So, even though I had the first half of my MS marked up with red pen, I went back to beginning and started marking it up with purple. I looked at every sentence as an individual. If it wasn’t pertinent to the story, I cut it. If they were unnecessary descriptions, I cut it. If I could think of a different word – or set of words – that would say the same thing in less, I cut it.
At this point I’ve only fixed about a quarter of my edits in the computer version of my novel and I’ve already knocked off about 2K words. That’s not bad at all. My goal is to not have anything more than 130,499 words, so when I query I can say 130K (you’re supposed to round to the nearest 500), but I’m hoping I can get it into the upper 120s.
What have I learned from this experience? With my next novel I have a feeling I’ll be analyzing my sentence structure and word choices a lot earlier in the game to prevent such a gross over-achieving status. I don’t hold out any hopes for ever being an under-achiever with word counts. I’ll just never be that person that can throw down a skeleton and flesh it out after.
But maybe, with practice and time, I’ll eventually just be a regular ol’ achiever.
P.S. My earlier post boasting about my new website is now obsolete. I cancelled that account with VistaPrint. Loved the template, hated the price. I'm still on the prowl for the right hosting company for my website. I'll let you all know when I make my final decision. Sorry for the tease with the other one!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
**Update: I canceled my trial website. I'll give you an updated link when I have a permanent one to give. Thank you!**
Hello to all of my blogging friends!!! I can't tell you how much I miss all of you. I miss all of our interactions and camaraderie super-duper mucho much. :)
I don't have much time to post much of anything except a quickie update, so here goes (if there are any of you out there that are still listening)....
I have a website! I'm not sure if it's a permanent thing yet since this is just a trial period, but I love how it looks for now. The problem is that it's through VistaPrint (yes, that annoying place that advertises the free business cards), which isn't known for their webhosting. I love the way the site looks (the template is pretty much perfect for me), but in order to get very fancy or do anything like email campaigns or anything extra...they charge you for every extra feature over the $10/month. That's freakin' expensive! I've tried very hard to research all of the web hosting companies out there and I'm very torn as to who to go with. I need cheap, easy and design-flexible...so if anyone has any opinions or information for me, please share! You can leave it in the comments or email me!
Anyway...here's the website! Visit and sign my guestbook!
As far as editing Desires of the Soul goes...it's going awesome. My betas, the JBs, have helped me SO immensely! Thanks a million girls! I'm still working on it and I'm about half-way through, but the ending is going to take some work. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get my word count down, so I think it'll still end up being somewhere around 133-134K words! Yikes. But I'm SO excited about the changes I've made already. I know it sounds biased, or even egotistical, but I can't help it...I LOVE THIS BOOK! I can't wait until the day comes where I can share it with all of you.
Well, I have to go. I hope you're all doing fabulous and please don't hesitate to contact me via email. I'll always have time to correspond through email!
Ciao for now...
Labels: Novel Progress