the state of things

 

The Return of the Word Count Junky

by Douglas Lindsay - 12:16 on 08 December 2007
IWork has arrived with its word count facility, and so now I can go back to religiously checking every few minutes how many words I've written. I was surprised to find when I first transferred the book onto the programme that I'd written over 6,000 words so far. Obviously it's not that much, not compared to War & Peace, A Suitable Boy or The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins, but still more than I'd expected.

It's probably bad before you start writing a book to decide exactly how long it's going to be. The last publishing deal I had, the book was specified in the contract to be between 90,000 and 120,000, which I thought was too long for Barney Thomson. There are a lot of unnecessary words in some of those books, namely Cutting Edge and Prayer.

So, with Lost In Juarez, while not deciding straight off how long it will be, I do know that I want it to be reasonably short by current novel standards. A snappy read. In order to get the book details out there and on-line etc, I've stated that it will have 212 pages. That's obviously a rough stab in the dark that can be changed later. However, it's the kind of length I'm looking at. So given that I'm now up over the 8,000 mark, and I'm probably looking at the book being under 65,000 words, then I'm already at least an eighth of the way through. That seems an exciting thought, as I've felt like I've been writing through fudge for the past three weeks. I know where I'm going, I like what I've been doing, but it's been slow, slow going. And yet, here I am, 12 and a half percent done. Time for a celebratory cup of tea and a stack of muffins at Mrs Miggins Pie Shop. Or, more likely, time for the kids to have the better part of three weeks off school for Christmas, so that I can't work at all anyway.

(They have one more week of school before finishing on the 14th, which seems absurdly early. By the time the reach the age of seventeen they will be breaking up for the Christmas holidays some time in September.)

Five more working days, crank it up to 1,000 words a day, break for Christmas at 13,000 words, get going in January at the same rate, be done by the end of March... Number, number, numbers. I know it's not about numbers, but the word count junky is back nevertheless.

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