Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pesky Word Count Stuff

I've hit 102,975 words on Masks. That's a good and a bad thing.

Good--I'm well over 80,000, the lower word count end for industry standard novel lengths.
Bad--Editors like to see shorter works out of first time authors. Less word count means fewer pages, fewer pages means less expensive to produce.
Good--In the fantasy genre in particular, readers prefer longer books. Some specifically shop for thick tomes, hoping for a good, long, lush read.
Bad--If I go over 125,000 it's often assumed (I'm told) that the plot will be loose and the prose will be purple and very wordy.

I'm hoping to come out of this under 125,000. If not, I'll consider pruning out entire chapters if need be. When I'm done with this thing I'll have a better idea of the pacing and which sections are strictly necessary (and which are not.) Right now I like all the chapters. Later on, I'm sure I'll be pretty ruthless and cull without feeling a need to hang on to this and that too much. Often, if there's an important plot point in a chapter, it can be shortened and moved to the prior or following chapter if you're careful. I'll try to be careful. Sometimes entire chapters are just window dressing, too, and if I have some of those, voila! my work is much easier.

BTW, 102,976 words happens in 499 pages. That works out to an average of about 206 words per page. That's pretty skinny for me. I blame dialogue, more frequent chapter breaks than I usually give myself (which blanks out half of a page at the beginning of each chapter) and the occasional bout of poetry.

More stats: I'm on Chapter Nineteen, which just got under way. Chapter Eighteen ends on page 492, averaging about 27 1/3 pages per chapter. Going from full word count, that averages about 5675 words per chapter. (This is where stats get interesting--the word count is about 45 words lower if you multiply 27 1/3 (average chapter page count) times 206 (average words per page.) Yes, I remembered to take away the word count for Chapter Nineteen because it's not finished. You can manipulate statistics a lot by rounding and changing the parameters slightly while still looking on the up and up. Beware statistics!

Moving on.

The super good news is that I'm here in July. That bodes well for finishing this baby this year (assuming I don't slack off) and maybe even finishing it sometime in August. I'm all for that--it looks like it'll need yet another polish before I can market it, so I'll need that extra time for reading through and making tweaks.

Gee, and I thought this was the final *final* edit prior to editing to an editor's specs. Just goes to show you, you never know when it comes to editing.


Ris said...

HA HA! When you need to delete chunks, I can lobby to have that opening chapter removed then and start with Mark at the Lord's house instead! Because I still believe that would make a better opening to the book . . .

You go, girl!

KamiZM said...

I like the structure of opening in the lord's house, but I still think that without that opening for context and emotional attachment to the boy that Mark was, people wouldn't get the 'poor Mark!' reaction. They wouldn't get that sense of exploitation, either, because for all they know, he's there by choice.

Definitely something I have to think about.

In the meantime, onward and forward! Yay!