Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, January 02, 2017

Page count and word count

One of my writing goals for the new year is to revise a novel. I had done this last year and I wanted to do it again this year! Thing of it was, I had planned to revise a novel that I wrote fairly recently. Then, a couple of days ago, I remembered another novel I had written before that one. I decided to revise that one instead. (Both novels are fantasy, but the older one has vampires in it.)

So yesterday, I opened that one up and started reading it over. I prefer to give a book I am revising a good fresh read first and make revision notes along the way. With this one, though, I noticed something about it that was puzzling. It was only 81 pages. And all this time, I was calling it a novel? Really? Maybe that’s because I wrote this one for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). So I thought it was a “novel.”

But then I ran the word count on it. The word count came in at 30,054 words. It wasn’t even 40,000 words – the minimum word count for it to qualify as a novel! Heck, not even the 50,000 word minimum for NaNoWriMo.

This got me thinking: What’s the word count for the novel I revised last year?

I opened that file up to find out. I noticed this one was just 129 pages, but I ran the word count on it, and it’s 42,030 words. Well, at least it is a minimum of 40,000 words.

But both of these books were written for NaNoWriMo. And NEITHER of them are a minimum of 50,000 words! For crying out loud! (Well, neither is that other fantasy novel I wrote. Hm, maybe a writing challenge I can take on would be to write a novel for NaNoWriMo that is ACTUALLY at least 50,000 words?? Maybe. I have other ideas for other novels.)

So, it looks like my goal for the current novel revisions is to get this manuscript up to at least 40,000 words. My main character gets caught up in a vampire war at the end, so maybe I can expand on that. Make the war last a little longer than just one chapter. And maybe I could also write the scenes for something my character was going to do at the beginning of the story but that stuff never happened. There’s quite a few things I could do with this story to make it longer but I need to finish the read-through of it before I go in that direction.

I know that for the most part, a story is going to be as long as it has to be. But in this case, I WANT the story to be at least 40,000 words. Also, it feels like it needs more. Like it’s lacking stuff. I hope to figure out what that stuff is during the revision process. Maybe my beta readers will figure that out, too.

In any event, I am glad that at least I have a better idea of how to improve and fix this story than when I first sat down to write it. The first draft is just a matter of getting the story down on paper and not so much reaching a word-count goal, or even a page-number goal. But I think that, during the revision process, page and word counts are something to be taken into consideration.

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