Friday, 8 July 2011

Writing Novels and Things #5: Counting words

Revision continues. I'd previously thought that I'd be rewriting the first five chapters, reducing them to four. This was, unfortunately, an example of Bad Maths. What I actually did was rewrite the first two chapters, expanding them to four.

Most writing advice I've read advises that when you do a second draft of a novel, you should do lots of cutting out. Old Mr Prescriptive, Stephen King, says 10%, maybe more and that seems to be a bit of an industry standard, and almost nobody tells you to add anything in the editing process. So I'm not sure what it means when, so far, I've managed to turn what was 13,500 words into 19,500... do I win?

I'm not worried. I'm not worried at all. There are people who add with revisions (like Mur Lafferty), and I think mostly it comes from being a bit of an excited writer, constantly wanting to get to the good bits and forgetting basic concepts of storytelling and stuff. And so then, on revision, you add the in-betweeny bits! I'm not worried.

I don't know how this happened! When I was at uni, writing an essay was almost exactly as painful as pulling teeth, and went something like this:

Paragraph - word count - paragraph - word count - sentence - word count - word - word count - word count - word count - word - wordcountwordcountwordcount - oh, come oooooonnnnnnn!!!! - word count - pfft! - print, hand in, 2.1

And now I just want to put in all the words! It keeps growing, exponentially, getting longer, wordier and totally betterer. But I can't help but wonder... if keep on rerwiting, is my novel going to take over the world?

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