Monday, 14 November 2011

Deadlines, good; Word limits, bad

My self-imposed writing schedule is working quite well.  It seems as if I'm only capable of getting significant amounts done if I've got a deadline to meet, even if it's one I've created myself.  I'm sure that says something profound about me as a writer but I can't be arsed to figure out what.

I passed the 75k mark last week which is - as so many things are - both good and bad.  Good because yay, progress!  And bad because I think I'm waffling too much.  Or, to phrase it in a slightly more positive way, I'm going into too much detail.

I have my chapter plan and for the most part I'm stuck to it, though I've had to re-jig a few things and cut out a couple of conversations which I had planned because I'd reached my limit on that chapter.  I'd figured I would probably have to do that, though, so it's no big deal.

The problem potentially exists in the amount of words I'm doing per chapter.  I've created a limit of 2k.  In most of the chapters, I have gone over this by around one- to two-hundred words.  My university-brain says 'well that's okay, it's within the 10% margin' - but my actually-we're-not-at-uni-anymore-brain points out that these extra words mount up over all the chapters.

As a result I'm trying to write a few slightly smaller chapters.  I aim for around 1700-1800 words - and come in closer to dead on 2k.  *sigh*  So should I therefore be aiming at that all the time?  Or should I get my act together and actually produce what I bleedin' well say I'm going to?

Despite the above whinging, I'm not actually too worried about my excess words.  It's been a habit of mine to go over on word counts for several years now and I always manage to cut it down in the end.  In fact that's mostly what my editing process consists of.  If I took that away, I'm not sure I'd know what to do.  Which doesn't exactly bode well for the uber-editing-session I have planned (for my other novel) once I've finished the first draft of Hide and See.

Who reckons that I'll just end up starting another novel instead?


  1. Hiya! It doesn't matter if you go over your limit, I'm sure. The hard part isn't the writing (haha!), it's the editing. By the time you've not seen a given chapter for a few weeks, you'd be amazed how much you can actually chop [i.e. how much is utter crap!:)]- as if you didn't know that already! Keep at it, girl!

  2. Yep I'm very familiar with going back to my work and thinking it's all bollocks! I suppose I should be glad that I'll have plenty of spare words to chop.

  3. My problem is once you see some words to cut you decide their all equally bad and you can end up with nothing. Isn't it hard to find stuff to keep? I hate editing.

  4. Here's one of the little gems of advice (because I am so clever, you know... Guffaw!) that I give to GCSE students for their exams. When you have finished, check your work, check your work again, stare at the ceiling for five minutes, then check your work backwards, question by question or paragraph by paragraph, but definitely backwards. Amazing how many mistakes you spot because your eyes aren't just running across it for the gazillionth time. Speaking as someone who had to (gnash, spit, gnash) cut from 11,000 words for the rationale to 3,000... and has not recovered since. ;)

  5. Ah I'd never heard of reading it backwards before! Interesting idea; I can see why it would work. I definitely need all the tips I can get because I'm very much in the I-hate-editing camp too :D