20th Jun2011

Knowing Your Length

by Aaron

This past Thursday I began working on the revisions to Project X after getting it back from my second beta reader. In reading her comprehensive and detailed notes, I realized something important: You must pay attention to length!

In working on Project X, I’ve focused strictly on word count and not number of pages. My go-to, most favorite writing software Scrivener doesn’t even understand page numbers as it’s designed to work in small chunks. Only when compiling the WIP into Word do I see where I stand. This seems to have bitten me in the ass.

My second beta reader liked the idea and the execution but felt the story was very front-loaded. It took me 12 pages just to get to the action! The entire manuscript was 29 pages, so this is a glaring issue. It was also a surprise to me since in my Scrivener world, I had three documents broken down to about 1,100 words each that lead up to this action. Broken down, it doesn’t seem like much. Combine it all into real-world formatting and BOOM I’m dragging my feet on the story.

It was only by viewing my writing in a linear format did I see areas that needed improvement. My advantage here was having Scrivener AND Word open side by side. As I read through the WIP in Word (and staying mindful of what page I was on) I was able to make the appropriate edits in Scrivener. With just a few hours of work, that pesky page 12 action was bumped up to page 6 with some shuffling of scenes and cutting fat off the WIP as a whole. Even reading it mid-revision, I see the story is a lot tighter and significantly improved.

Sometimes we need multiple viewing angles to see what needs to be done and that requires multiple tools. While I’ll never do my primary writing in Word, I’ve now seen it can be valuable for analysis in the editing process.

So how do you change your setup and approach when shifting from the writing stage to editing? Sound off in the comments!

12th Mar2008

Shifting Gears

by Aaron

Shifter

So with my Robert book now in the hands of my four faithful beta readers, I have no more work to do for now on this story. I can go ahead and shift gears into resuming my work on Mars. I know this is going to be a very interesting endeavor.

For starters, I’ve never written a book before. With my Robert book finished I’m now moving further into uncharted territory with starting a second novel. I’ve never written two books! This should be exciting.

I think the hardest thing to start will be changing my mindset and focus from an editing standpoint to a creative stance while trying to imagine this new story that I’ve seeded. The book is very short, with only two chapters finished. Both of these are teasers and the whole thing is only about four pages.

As I resume my writing, I’ll post my word counts and let everyone know the progress of this story. I’m still not 100% sure where I want to focus it, but I have it narrowed down to two ideas. I’ll go wherever the book takes me. The other thing is I don’t have a goal for my words so I won’t be posting any progress meters showing how much I’ve completed. I believe a book is as long as it wants to be. I’ll be done writing it when it wants to be done.

I think this will be exciting.

Off
07th Jan2008

The Insertables

by Aaron

My untitled story is something that is driving me nuts in terms of length. As much as I hate to call it this, the story is a ‘human drama’ based on a teenager who gets picked on and how he gets through his day. The story has fallen short of the length I want, coming in at only 39,000 words (using the standard calculation, not an actual word count). When I started this book, I was shooting for novel-length.

I was speaking to a fellow writer last week who said that if I can add about 20 pages, it should fall right into novella length and it could be publish-able. In order to do this, I need to beef up some sub-plots. I came up with the idea of ‘Insertables’.

I figure that I can write an entire sub-plot separate from the book. This can just have characters from the story in it. If I write 3 or 4 chapters, I can insert them anywhere on an ‘as needed’ basis. I also figure I can write some additional stand-alone chapters that could help build backstory and insert them where needed or even break them up and use certain paragraphs.

By doing this and using this method, I think I can build up the length of this still-unnamed book. I need 80,000 – 100,000 words!