Writing Tips
Comments 21

Never Judge A First Draft By Its Word Count: The Fun of Novel Writing

The title is pretty self explanatory, right? More so than anything, for me, it is necessary reminder.

I am fiddling with cover ideas...this is my recent attempt.

I am fiddling with cover ideas…this is my recent attempt.

As it stands, I am a mere couple of weeks away from the one year anniversary for when I first started writing Ascension Graveyard…and the first draft STILL isn’t finished.

Now, I am not complaining, because honestly, I have done a crap load of that already, but I have been a little bit nervous.

Why the nerves you ask? Well because I still have a good 30 to 40k worth of words that still need to be said here, and the manuscript, as of 20 minutes ago is at a whopping 130k words!


Imagining that by the time I type those two delicious words, THE END, that I will be hovering at a word count somewhere around 170k makes me jittery. I will have to take a knife to my story and cut things away that I have grown to love. Big chunks of body, flying everywhere! Can you imagine it?!

I don’t want to lay claim to any kind of disorder, but if I had a problem, I would be a hoarder…a word hoarder, a hoarder of snappy analogies and flowery metaphors.

Those two things are what separate a glowing portrait from a basic stick figure.  But they can also weigh down a novel with an excess of poundage in word count.

To be frank, I don’t think my flowery bits are what is causing so much fat. Actually its the simple fact that, even though I have been committed and faithful in sharing AG since its conception, it is still a first draft.

I, not even an hour ago, had to tell myself to just keep writing and not to look back until I type “The End.” The reason being is that I can fix all of the issues and trim away the excess once everything is fully laid out on the table, or in this case, on the computer screen.

Etta is still telling her tale, as is her gorgeous husband.

So if I could leave any advice for other writers who may be facing similar quirks and nerves, it would be these few things:

  1. Just keep writing: First drafts don’t have to be perfect, they just have to BE in order to be worked into something incredible.
  2. Don’t make the story into something that it is not: There is a saying in the visual art world that is, “Create what you see, not what you think you see.” In the case of writing, “Write what you see, not what you wish to see for convenience.” If you want to derail your stories authenticity and originality, try to fit it into a mold that makes you “comfortable,” but totally contradicts what the characters are laying out for you.
  3. TRUST THE PLOT TO WORK ITSELF OUT!: If you story seems to have a conflict that has you uncertain about how it is going to resolve itself, don’t worry, if you follow your muse and honor point #2 the resolution will reveal itself at the appropriate time. For more on this click HERE to read my post called, “Where You Are, Where You Are Going: Plot Conflict Resolutions.”
  4. Don’t mind the word count…too much: (Obviously, 200k is a lot to manage for a reader and even a writer at times.) Just write what the story is telling you in ALL the words that it tells you the first time around. You can trim and polish later.
  5. Just have fun:What other reason is there for writing fiction besides to have fun?

Cheers to you, and all those extra words!

Happy novel writing.

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  1. We do not know each other well, but I know two things that tighten up writing: removal of adjectives and adverbs. Magic! Another one is active verbs in place of gerungs.

    • I can dig it. I think we are on the same page. You just used a more straight forward way of saying, “Stop being so flowery with your writing.” 🙂 For me, or rather for Ascension Graveyard, it will be a matter of getting rid of unnecessary scenes and chapters and putting my focus on the “meat” that didn’t reveal itself until I was about 65k words in. So once I do begin revisions and editing, the AG of today will not be quite the same as the AG of tomorrow. Bless those first drafts!

      • Drafts are drafts. They are the vehicle that drives the story to the page. It’s the fine tuning that makes the story sing. 😀 My favorite part is editing. ❤

  2. Pingback: The Wisdom of Taking Your Own Advice: More on Ascension Graveyard | I came for the soup...

  3. Totally agree with all of these points, Candice! The book I’m editing ended up being so long, but that’s just the way the story wanted to be, and I have fun with it. 🙂 Is it bad that it’s 250k? *blushes* XD I think it’ll have to be a part 1 part 2 thing, maybe.

    • I (having yet to be published) think that is where the line between art and capitalism is drawn when it comes to our written works and selling them. 250k in hardback takes up a LOT of space on the shelf and cost a LOT to print. Also it is a heavier download in digital format. For me breaking up my book which was similar in length to yours (Not Ascension Graveyard) was the best thing I had done for that piece. Now that it is a three book series it has become more rich. Finer points are better polished and characters that need a momentary spotlight are given the chance to shine in one book whereas they are not so important in the next book. I would try breaking your piece up and seeing what you think and how it feels to you. 🙂

      • I hadn’t thought of the digital download being heavy, yikes! Yes, I’m going to have to break it up at least into 2 pieces…I’ll need to figure all that out, since it all flows together as one. But maybe I can work something out, make certain characers shine more like you said. 🙂 I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who wrote a monster-size novel, feel so much better now. 😀

      • 😀 The feeling is oh so mutual. I recognize that I am a long winded writer but that is not a bad thing. I tend to have a lot of subplots that happen in one story and that tends to make the tome grow a great deal. But again that is not a bad thing. I like to think of it as a gift actually.

      • I agree, let’s think of it as a gift. 🙂 I love subplots and character backgrounds, for me it is what makes a story enjoyable. I’m thinking our books would make great TV series! Each chapter its own episode… I can dream, can’t I? 😉

      • Oh I would love for Warden to be a tv series AND a graphic novel series. We have to dream first and then create. 🙂

      • Ah, graphic novel series would be AWESOME. I actually first envisioned V Chronicles as a graphic novel, but knew it would be too much for me drawing all the artwork, lol. But in the future? Who knows. 🙂

      • Oh, me, I have no intention of illustrating my own graphic novel. lol. I figure I did all the writing, the least I could do is allow someone who is passionate about that type of illustration to bring a whole new depth to the series.

      • I guess I’m a bit too passionate about my characters, lol, I’d love to do all the illustrating if I could. 🙂

      • Lol, I understand that. You have to do what is best for you and what you feel comfortable with in dealing with your art. Sharing your babies is a hard thing to do.

      • I didn’t mean it like that, I guess I worded it wrong, lol. I’d love for people to draw my characters and story scenes, I’m just saying that I enjoy drawing my characters and it would be fun if I could illustrate a graphic novel of them. 🙂

      • I can dig that too! For quick learning lessons I would look into Skillshare.com. Seriously. Mayhaps you find a class suited for that practice when the time arrives and then you may find that your hand is beyond skilled enough to indeed illustrate your works. 🙂

      • That would be cool. It’s my eyes that give me problems more than my hand though, but it’s a nice dream to keep in mind. 🙂

      • Dreams are what make the future worth looking forward to, right? Practice makes perfect. Another trick (if I didn’t mention it already) is to use a mirror. While you are constructing a face look at it through a mirror. A mirror will show you where it is all out of order. Strange but true.

  4. Pingback: 5 Crucial Things to Remember While Writing Your First Draft: #AmWriting #WritingWisdom #writingtips – I came for the soup…

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