Well, I have officially changed my target word count to 105K words – because there is no way my book is getting wrapped up in the next 4,000. I’ll eventually have to cut some stuff to make it fit 105K, I’m sure.

And even when I reach that 105K mark – oh, I am so far from finished. I have to go back and revise several early chapters to layer in backstory that I only figured out halfway through the book. Those are the major revisions. Then there’s the subtle tweaking of the whole thing – tightening loose sentences, weeding out lame adverbs, layering in description.

The end of February is my goal. I started November 1st. Writing a novel from scratch in 4 months isn’t bad, right? I feel pretty good about that.

Thanks you guys, for tracking my progress and holding my hand through it all.

14 comments to “The word count illusion”

  1. Gillian
    · February 11th, 2007 at 7:48 pm · Link

    Pretty Good???

    How about triple scoop hot fudge sundae, sleeping in until noon because Nanny McPhee came to clean the house and care for the kids good?

    That would be my take on it. Hope you have something special planned for yourself before you hit the big revisions. 🙂

  2. Pam Skochinski
    · February 11th, 2007 at 8:11 pm · Link

    boy, I could sure go for the Nanny McPhee to come take care of the kids when I finish a draft.

    As it is, I did get to go out to dinner since we finished our taxes today (too bad there’s no mail ’till Tuesday!)

  3. Santa
    · February 11th, 2007 at 11:19 pm · Link

    Impressive isn’t big enough a word for this accomplishment! You have Nanny McPhee tied up in the back room, don’t you? I’d have kept Colin back there but I suppose that would have been too much of a distraction!

    You go girl!

  4. Alice Audrey
    · February 11th, 2007 at 11:52 pm · Link

    Hang in there Tessa, you are so close!


  5. Sara
    · February 12th, 2007 at 12:17 am · Link

    Um, that’s pretty darn fabulous. I started way before you, although I only had about 20K at the beginning of November, and I am HOPING to finish by April 1st. Rock on!!!

  6. Lenora Bell
    · February 12th, 2007 at 2:02 am · Link

    Not bad? That is the understatement of the year! Finishing a novel in four months is fantastic, amazing, inspirational, stupendous, and all the other gushy adjectives my wee brain can manage to come up without consulting thesaurus.com.

  7. beverley
    · February 12th, 2007 at 7:48 am · Link

    Yippee. My novel has only gotten longer with this revision. I figure if I can cap it at 105k I’ll still be good. Although that will even take some doing. I had to ask around and find out how much I can go over the approx word count and still be considered ok.

    I should have saved my last comment for this post but alas…

    Good job!

  8. Lindsey
    · February 12th, 2007 at 8:40 am · Link

    Tessa, you are a goddess! Congrats – I’m so proud & excited!

  9. Maggie Robinson
    · February 12th, 2007 at 10:55 am · Link

    And here I was feeling pretty good about knocking out 3,000 words this weekend…on a book I started in “earnest” last January (that’s 2006, not 2007). I began it in longhand THREE summers ago when my computer died. Dear girl, you are a Goddess.

  10. Tessa Dare
    · February 12th, 2007 at 11:54 am · Link

    Thanks, you guys!! I must admit, quite shamelessly, I need the encouragment. I’m at that point where I’m almost done with the thing, but having a serious crisis of confidence about what it is I’ve almost finished.

    That’s normal, right? To look at the product of 3-1/2 months work and get this sinking feeling that it just completely sucks?

    I’ll feel better about it when it’s done, right? HEA and all.

  11. Jacqueline Barbour
    · February 12th, 2007 at 12:05 pm · Link

    Hi Tessa,

    Just FYI, your blog isn’t displaying properly on my browser at the moment. Your background is brown and the text is dark read, so it’s essentially illegible.

    It took me ten months to finish the first version of Living in Sin. Admittedly, the first draft was really not a first draft. I had the first half of the book out to critique partners and made tons of revisions to it long before I actually wrote “The End.” That’s part of the reason it took so damned long!

    But, having just had my retreat weekend with Darcy and Lacey to discuss how to cut my book down from its current 116K (which has zero chance of selling) to 105K (which is still not ideal, but at least marketable), I had a revelation and realized that a TON of what I have written isn’t necessary to the story. Oh, the scenes were fun and well-crafted, but they didn’t really move the story forward. *I* needed to write them when telling myself the story because I needed to know how my character got from one point to the next in the story and what they were doing in the intervening time, but a lot of them aren’t necessary for *the reader*.

    Those were things none of us could really see until we read the book as one unit, however. When we were reading it in chapters and scenes separated by days or weeks, a good scene was a good scene and it didn’t seem to matter much HOW it actually fit into the overall plot and character arcs. Now, we’re able to see it so much more clearly and I honestly think I’m going to be able to get the story down to 100K (maybe even 95K).

    Keep in mind that the first version was a whopping 126K. I thought I hadn’t a prayer of getting it down to 100K. But it worked out.

    So, I guess what I’m saying is write it the first time all the way to the end in however many words it takes you to get there and THEN take a second look. My second look pared 10,000 words out quite easily. The rest were a little harder for me to see–I needed my critique partners for that.

    Some people write “spare” first drafts, but I think I’m the sort of writer who does a “thick” first draft (because I need to motivate my characters to BREATHE, LOL!) and then pare out what the READER doesn’t needed on the second path. Maybe that’s you, too. And either method is okay.

    Just be prepared for the possibility that you may have to slay some of your favorite children in the process of getting down to saleable length *g!

  12. Santa
    · February 12th, 2007 at 2:43 pm · Link

    Tessa, I’ve had that sinking feeling through this whole experience. Finish the book and then step back from it. You’ll never be able to see it clearly (other than in your mind’s eye) until it is finished and you step back into it. Then the real fun begins or so they keep telling me. Once I get to that point, I’ll let you know!

  13. Pam Skochinski
    · February 12th, 2007 at 5:27 pm · Link

    I always get a little cold feet around THE END too. . . a feeling of “it’s not good enough” etc. I think it’s just normal.

  14. Tessa Dare
    · February 13th, 2007 at 10:34 am · Link

    Thanks for the advice, Jacqueline, and Pam and Santa for the encouragement/commiseration. It’s good to know I’m not alone!