Word Count

Over the past few months I’ve become obsessed with word count.  So much of what writers do depends upon that little (or sometimes big) number.  Magazines, newspapers, fiction contests — there is a number attached to each submission guideline, and if you don’t abide by that number you’re automatically disqualified.

The goal for my project has been 100,000 words.  Yes, it’s a novel.  I, however, am stagnant at a mere 40,000 words with much of my story left untold.  Stuck!  Then something amazingly refreshing happened – My lone project blossomed into a trilogy.  I now need 300,000 words, which seems daunting, but given the aspect that it has opened up my story and characters to delve far beyond what I’d imagined, I find the words flowing forth.  I’m able to give each character a new dimension of his/her identity.  I can refer back to past events that I hadn’t mapped out prior.  And I’m aiming for a higher word count than I ever have – 7,000 words a week.

This experience has taught me, once again, the importance of writing down every thought that comes into your head.  Even if it’s rubbish.  It could become a gem after it’s edited, or even earlier in the writing process.  Or – even better – it could lead you into new territory and open up a part of your story you’d never imagined, as it did with mine.

It also highlights the importance of knowing your characters inside and out.  You are your characters’ parent, and you’ve been there from the beginning.  Know EVERYTHING, even the things you won’t put on the pages of your story.  It’s all important stuff.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Word waterboarding! Less may be more | Gary Heilbronn

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