Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Word count

Today's topic is word count. Oh, and what a rich topic it is!

Now, as many of you know the first thing people think of when they hear word count (or at least what we authors think) is how exactly do you measure it? I cannot count the number of times I have read message boards arguing over this topic: to use the Word word count or to multiply every 25-lined Courrier 12ed, 1 inch margain page by 250? And to a beginner this is not an insignificant topic as the two different methods can have drastically different outcomes.

For example, according to word my current WIP is 44,064 words. If I use proper formatting count then I have closer to 50k. When you're working category (which I'm not) those 5k words can make a big difference, at least to the new writer (and perhaps to the editors as well, I don't know since I'm not that versed in category).

Anyways, one of the things I used to love to do with my second MS was to reformat at the end of the day to see just how many words I'd written manuscript style because it always seemed like a bigger accomplishment. Ah, good times.

Another topic that seems to always come up in word count discussion is the various "requirements" of different houses. I must admit that I'm always surprised by people who write a book and send it off to ST publishers only to be told that 50k words isn't within ST range. Now, if you're totally new to writing I can see this mistake, but some people are members of big groups of writers and this knowlege is easy to get ahold of. Maybe I'm just the type of person that NEEDS to know what I'm getting myself into and so word count was the first thing I looked at when I started writing. After all, a girl's gotta know what to aim for.

But I digress... the real reason I wanted to bring this topic up is because of my desire and drive to always be moving my word count bar higher and higher (see sidebar to the right for word counter). This means that it has become physically painful for me to cut words that I KNOW need to be cut. Because to do so seems to lessen my progress even though I know in the end it is only for the best.

Is anyone else out there like that? This weekend I finally cut some scenes that needed to be axed and it was so sad to have rewritten two whole scenes but to barely see my wordcounter move (though it has moved by 5% since then which can only mean that I've kicked some personal ass writing).

Since I'm only working on the rough draft right now I've given myself permission to leave the dregs in there if it makes me happy. I'm not worried about not having enough words. I always start out a project afraid that I'll never have enough to write and then I find myself almost (or more than) half way through and think "crikees! I've barely just gotten started!"

That's how I feel now. Turns out I didn't need to kill anyone off just to get the word count. Who knew?

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