Showing posts with label Word Count. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Word Count. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How Many Words Does It Take...?

Graph borrowed from Writer Services (dot) com

I'm a firm believer that "everything happens for a reason."  For example, I intended to open my WiP as soon as I got home from the gym this morning.  I was willing to weather my own stink, forgoing a shower while the kids were in school so I could write in a quiet house.  But for some reason, I didn't.

Instead, I started reading the blogs on my blogroll.  Roni at *Fiction Groupie* had posted within the hour.  I clicked.  And there it was, the "reason" I hadn't jumped right into Overcome.  Roni's post, featuring Justine Dell.

It was as if Justine were looking right at me as she spoke.  Her topic on how to write effective back story -- including getting all of it (ALL back story) out of chapter one, couldn't have been more pertinent.  If you haven't read the post, please do.  Here's the link:  That Sneaky Backstory

In her discussion, Justine shared Donald Maas' advice from Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.  His Number One tip that grabbed me by the shoulders and shook hard was this:  "In the first fifty pages of your novel, find any scene that establishes the setting, brings the players to the stage, sets up a situation, or that is otherwise backstory.  Put brackets around the material, or highlight it in your electronic file.  Cut and paste this material into chapter fifteen. Yes, chapter fifteen."  (The whole post is so good -- I hope you read it!)

Besides being eye-opening advice, for me, this led to several other questions.  For example, how long is fifty pages of a novel?  How long is one page?

I'm a novice novelist, so I know lots of you writer-readers are shouting the answer at me through your screens.  You've already been down this stretch of the path.  Since it's my first time, I'll share what I learned.

According to the first five websites Google suggested, industry standard preferred length is 250 words per page. Just to test this, I grabbed a recent book acquisition off the to-read pile, opened to a random page, and typed.  I found there were 247 words on that page.  Cool.

However, the text only covered ½ of the page.  You see, my preferred font has always been Calibri, size 11, with line spacing at 1.5.  I only double space between paragraphs.

When I changed the document to Times New Roman, 12 pt., double-spaced throughout, the text covered the page, exactly.

Now, I have a better idea how to gauge how far into my MS I am, and I can think more specifically about where the backstory, and other plot elements, should go.  I'm excited about the insight!

Here are some interesting articles regarding this topic:
William Shunn -- (Short Story Guidelines, but still applicable)

I know submitted manuscripts should follow each agent or publisher's specific guidelines.  But I'd love to know how you work with your manuscripts.  What font and size do you write your drafts in?  Do you reformat when sending your work to critique partners, for easier edit inserts?

Thanks, in advance, for sharing with me!