February 26

My almost weekly writing update

TL;DR: The writing continues.

I’d love to write more blog posts, but these days its been head down, fingers on keyboard. Well, not quite – I’ve also been re-engaging my stamp collection. What, months before a cross country move isn’t a good time for that? It’s ok, I have it all justified – working on the collection now means I’m consolidating for the move.

But, I promised to check in and report my progress, so here we are. I’m continuing to average about 969.15 words a day this month so far – not quite 1k a day, but close. Really, that’s about an even number of days under 900 words as over 1k, but the progress meter in scrivener is happy, so I am too. The novel currently stands at 52,000 words, and I still have to write today (but instead, here I am blogging)

I’m still targeting the 70-75k mark for this novel. Math wizards will figure out 1k a day should have me finishing about mid March, and that was intentional.

I didn’t outline this novel – not exactly. I had a firm idea of how to kick everything off, and noted directions as I went so that I had a living outline a few chapters ahead, but mostly I’ve been winging it. What’s nice is that in my head, I still have a clear picture of where this is all going, and so far everything seems to be coming together nicely. There’s still a few surprises, both for me and the story, but I find that exciting.

If only it weren’t so cold outside.

February 17

How long to make it?

Novel length is something that’s really been on my mind lately. Probably because I’m about to hit the 45K mark on my story, which is a sure sign I’m past the halfway mark. According to the sense of pacing in my head (because I’m a lousy outliner, that sense is more reliable than anything I might have scratched down on paper, trust me), I’m zooming towards the conclusion. I’m estimating there’s probably about another 20-30K left to write, which is just fine by me. That fits perfectly with my original ballpark of 75K for this novel.

Problem is, 80K is usually the minimum for a novel, not a stretch goal.

You hear this myth spouted from almost every blog or young author or young editor at one point or another. The writers spouting this myth all go on about how a novel doesn’t have value, readers won’t like it, the author won’t feel complete unless the novel they write is at least 80,000 words long or longer.

Now granted, some stories need to be that long. Some.

But many, many novels are padded out and basically killed in quality because of this belief in a myth. I know, in over one hundred contracts with traditional publishing, I wrote to contract lengths and most of the books I wrote had to be padded out in one form or another to hit contract length.

via Killing Even More Sacred Cows of Publishing: #1… Novels Must Be A Certain Length |.

I admit, I don’t see eye to eye with Mr. Smith on a lot of things (meh, happens), but even someone you don’t always agree with can make good points. This is one of them. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still not a big fan of the indie publishing route (mark those words, I’ll eat them one day), and I haven’t done the research to confirm his rationale, but the fact remains that making a story longer because that’s how long they are is silly. As a writer I am focussed on telling the best story I can, whether that story is less than a thousand words, 50K, or 200K. The length should be determined only by how many words it takes to tell a story, not by (if true) a printer.

I’ve been aware for some time that my novels are on the short side. I like to tell the story and get out. Maybe I don’t have this down right, or maybe (just maybe) I like for the reader to have something to think about when they’re done. Play a little make believe, imagine what’s next. I’d rather you got through my book in a short amount of time and either hungered for more, or went off and did something else, than to drag you through a thousand pages and leave you exhausted and voided afterward.

Yes, I read (and sometimes review) those doorstopper books. Done well, they are amazing escapes. I haven’t the words to do them well, and you wouldn’t want to read something that I tried to force into being the “right” length.

In other news, the writing continues and the story progresses. The dark things are about to come to light in my tale of a small northern town vs a Donald Sutherland classic remix.

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February 9

I love chocolate chip cookies

English: Half a dozen home-made cookies. Ingre...

English: Half a dozen home-made cookies. Ingredients: butter, flour, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, soda, salt, and chocolate chips. Français : Demie-douzaine de cookies fait-maison. Ingrédients: beurre, farine, sucre en poudre, œufs, vanille, soda, sel et grain de chocolat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know what you’re thinking – duh, of course, who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? But I would actually go so far as to say they are my favorite of all the cookies. Oh, sure, I like other cookies, but chocolate chip cookies have a special place in my heart.

Historically, I think it’s because when we lived overseas as a kid, my maternal Grandmother would send us a package every few months. There were two things in those packages: Spider-Man comics (Amazing, Spectacular, and whatever else she could find with the webcrawler on them), and every so often, a tin of cookies. My grandmother made the worst cookies. Hard enough to chip a tooth on, laced with walnuts (I’m not a big nut fan), and yet – they were chocolate chip cookies. From my Gran. They came with comics and stateside love. Those extra touches transformed them into the best cookies in the world, and set my love for life.

Tonight, I’m sitting down to do some writing with some store bought chocolate chip cookies my wife picked up. They aren’t great. Thin, a little dry, and obviously made from a frozen batter and “baked” in the store. But they’re chocolate chip, and that makes them all right by me.