Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday #002

Welcome to the second addition of Work in Progress Wednesday, which appropriately enough, is a work in progress itself.

If anyone else out there in the blogosphere wants to join in on the fun, simply post your own WIP Wednesday entry on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments below. Or if you don't have a blog, feel free to report your progress directly into the comments box.

For more detailed information concerning what all this nonsense is about please consult the original Work in Progress Wednesday posting.

So, once again I'm going to kick my own post off with thee ye olde word count meter.

82407 / 85000 words. 97% done!

That's right, I am 6% closer to finishing my WIP this week than I was last week! It's awesome, it's great, it's... not one hundred percent accurate.

You see, in an ironic twist worthy of an Alanis Morisette song I have been endlessly worrying since somewhere around the 50K mark that my book will not be long enough, and now it seems like it might end up being longer than my estimated 85K.

Waaayyy back in July when I first began writing this thing I was aiming for a final work count of 100K, but after I got several chapters in I realized that I had these kind of short little chapters in the 2500-4000 range. So I did a rough chapter by chapter outline and then pulled up the trusty calculator function. Here is my extremely skillful use of mathmatics (try not to be intimidated):

(# of chapters) multiplied by (estimated # of pages per chapter) = *smack head on desk repeatedly*

Yeah, it wasn't quite the 100K I had envisioned. No big though. I regrouped, researched, and realized that Urban Fantasy's should be more in the 85K arena anyway. So, things were back on track until, like I said earlier at the 50K range I started to worry that the story might finish before I got into the 80's.

At this point I did what I do best. I worried. I fretted. I stressed as if stressing was an Olympic sport and I was going for the gold (I would totally win it too, just ask my husband and he will roll his eyes in confirmation).

Then I did the other thing I do. I went on the internet seeking answers. I found an entry on The Swivet Blog concerning word count lengths for different genres. For Urban Fantasy it listed 80-90K as the range to be in. This posting became a sort of security blanket for me, whenever I was feeling uneasy about my word count I'd pull it up, look at those numbers, and give myself a little pep talk that went like this:

"Okay self, you can get to 80K. I know, I know. But what if you can't? If you can't that's okay too. You already know that there are holes in the beginning that you'll have to go back and spackle the hell out of. Once you take care of that it'll punch your word count up where you need it. Oh and self? The whining?So not attractive."

When this didn't work, I consulted another agent blog posting about word count - this one over at Pub Rants. This one specifically addresses the problem with novels that are too short and states that a full length novel is usually 70-100K words.

Now I am sure at this point you are reading this long winded blog post and thinking, "Really you were worried about having enough words? Because, honestly, that does not seem like that much of a problem for you."

And if you were thinking this then you are right.

By the end of this week I will almost certainly reach my goal of writing 85K words, but I don't think I will at that point be writing "the end" - that is not unless I want a book with a very very very abrupt cliffhanger ending, along the lines of:

"And then I... THE END."

Maybe I am wrong though, if nothing else this post has confirmed that estimating word counts is a very tricky business indeed. I guess I will just have to see what happens and update you during next weeks WIP Wednesday whether I reached the true ending or not. (See, now that's a cliffhanger ending, even I'm dying to find out what happens.)

What about you? Anyone else counting words like a crazy person, or are you somewhere else in your WIP?


  1. OK, so I love this post...I think WIP Wedsnesday is FANTASTIC and I will have to start next Weds with a WIP Weds...maybe it will focus me and keep me writing !

  2. Ha, I laughed 3 times! Once about stressing as an olympic sport, then about are we really worried about you and meeting your word count, and then the cliffhanger of will you actually finish next week.
    You can find my WIP Wed. post here:

  3. Does anyone know a cleaner way I can link to my blog in this comment box, for future WIPWeds?
    That url looks long and maybe cut-off.

  4. Christine - Thanks for the compliments and I can't wait for you to join in next week! It really does help keep me focused because I know that if I'm a huge slacker I'll have to confess it here.

    Annie - Glad I could make you laugh! I had similar problems trying to figure out how to put a link in my post, and found a helpful website that explained it really simply and gave a great example. Here's the website: html for the conceptually challenged

    About halfway down the page they have a part about how to do a hypertext link, if you just copy the microsoft example they give, then you can replace that info with your own it should work. Feel free to practice in the comments section!

  5. Dude, Kate, I *heart* you. And I did my own WiP Wednesday...

    Thanks to you!

  6. Congrats on making progress! Is this still rough draft? If so, I wouldn't sweat the word count too much; you can always adjust it during revision. As long as your novel doesn't extend to 170K like my first one did, you should be fine. ;)

    I'll do my own WIP Wednesday later tonight.

  7. Yes, I have a habit of obsessing about numbers. My post is up now. Thanks for the great idea.

  8. This WIP Wednesday is a great idea. It's very motivating.

    I can easily get worried about word count if I let myself, but it's something I consciously try to push out of my mind. I tell myself to focus on the story and the characters first and hope that the word count will work itself out. But, I think everyone has their own little fixations and we shouldn't fight them. It will help make a unique piece of work.

  9. Robin, Elana, and Sandra - I'm so glad you guys are participating! I can't wait to read your posts.

    Davin - Thanks for the comment! I agree it is better to focus on story and character, and I think I probably stress over word count because it's easier to worry about that being wrong instead of the bigger stuff.

  10. yep, Kate, you rock! And I've tagged along on the WIP Wednesday thing :D

  11. Thanks for the link, Kate.
    This is me trying to link to my blog.

  12. I'll admit it, I like to count words. I'm not doing it so readily right now, but through that first draft, I can obsess a bit. I'll do that again with this draft is settled, complete. LOL It's kind of a fun neurosis. I'm pretty sure I crossed the catagory length. Not sure what to do about that except forget catagory. LOL

  13. Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog! The internet is a great way to meet other writers and realize that you're not that insane after all!

    I am one of those people that obsessively tracks word count. For whatever reason I believe it is, like, the MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD.

    I set goals for myself, usually 1000 words/day, and I find myself checking my word count through out my entire writing session.

    Type paragraph. Check word count.
    Dialogue. Check word count.
    Fix glaring typo in dialogue. Check word count.

    Good luck on finishing your first draft. Then comes the tedious fun of editing the hell out of it. :p


  14. I think I came here via Elena's blog and found the WIP Wednesday idea very thought-provoking. And that LOL Cat is perfection! I think I need that stuck to the door of my office. If I had a door. Or an office. The bloggy outpourings you inspired are here.

  15. I posted a quick update:

  16. WIP Wednesday! I almost forgot! Off I go...

  17. Michelle, Francesca, and Stephanie - thanks for joining in - love all your entries!

    Kat - thanks for visiting!

  18. I hate counting words - yet - I am obsessed by it. There is no escape. But you're doing great!