11/13/2013

Weekly Writing Update: Writing and Stitching

My mother used to have a sewing machine that looked like this. I wish I knew what happened to it. Maybe when I was a teenager and started to make my own clothes, she used it as part of a trade-in for our newer, 1966 Singer model.

As my manuscript takes place somewhere around 1912-15, and as I have been "stitching" it together lately, the sewing image feels apt. More on that, later.

But first, last week, I began keeping track of my progress by actually counting words. I had never done anything like it, and it's pretty cool. It will keep me from over-writing a work that needs to hit 70,000-75,000 words and not a word more. See chart below:


I have written, on average, 10 pages [2500 words] each day since I started keeping track. I am finding that number is by no means grueling for me, but I am spending more time at it than I would like. If I were contracted--and now that I have a feel for what I am capable of at this time--which is probably no more than 3500 words [14 pages] each day--I would work out a manuscript deadline that required me to write only 6-8 pages/day.

That would give me time to incorporate more fun into my day, such as time for reading and scrapbooking and that all-important category: Social Media.

As a pre-published author, I've mostly adhered to agent Rachelle Gardner's recommendation that we spend 90% of our writing time on writing, and 10% on social media. This is currently a very comfortable ratio for me, but the minute I've signed a book contract, the ratios need to change. (It goes for you as well!)

As to my stitching metaphor,
Yesterday, and since I've been keeping tabs on word count, I discovered I had 100 pages left to write, but also that I had planned another 30 pages beyond that.

Snafu! Snafu! Slap myself upside my head, hard.

Here's where all of my careful planning crumbled, and needed to give way to panstering. I spent most of the day sorting through the rest of  my notes and combining/culling scenes that would have taken up half of those extra 30 pages. Do you think that's fun? It definitely is not, as I had planned the story rather tightly to begin with.

The saving grace was that I had been aiming for 70,000 words. Now I will be using the full allotment with the remaining 15 pages of scenes that contain information that cannot be combined or culled. You might be wondering how I could've planned an additional 30 pages to begin with. I had misinterpreted the sweep of my signposts and journeys (Dramatica terms). I had thought that because there are seven signposts and journeys in a novel, I should take my total word count and divide it by seven, to get the total number of words to devote to each signpost or journey.

The trouble came when I discovered that the number I should've been working with was six, not seven. There are seven signposts and journeys, but only six sweeps from one to another. Duh. When you reach the final signpost, you don't need an additional (12,000 words). At that point, you are done.

Hubby's going to visit his mother in Western Washington tomorrow until Saturday, and today, he's going geo-cacheing with our daughter's kids, who she is homeschooling. So I will probably write another 10-12 pages each day until hubby returns.

I have 100 pages left to write. I have 50 pages to write and I'm at the black moment. After that, it's 50 pages of "Epiphanies, Decisions and the Final Resolution."

I still love my story. It's been fun to watch the scenes come into their own. As a planner, I know what needs to happen in each scene, but I never know how it's going to happen. That is a fun movie to watch, as my characters begin interacting with each other!

Also, as I looked over my notes for the unwritten pages, I realized that I really do need to reinsert the pistol and all the references to it, that I had removed after a contest judge's comment. She had convinced me that it didn't belong in an inspirational romance. She was wrong. It would add a lot to a "showdown" scene, thus I need to use it . . . Er, my heroine needs to pull it out of her reticule and aim it at her no-good brother, who is about to spoil her life, again! But I promise, she doesn't kill him.

How was your week, reading, writing, or otherwise?


4 comments:

  1. What a great idea to keep track of your word count like that! I should try that. :)

    It is fun to see how your characters take over the story! They do it to me all the time. :)

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  2. Your word count a day is amazing. I wish I could say as much after a week! I'm making progress, but not like that :-) As for the sewing machine, your picture brings back memories of my grandmother's. They say she sewed all the baby clothes on it...

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  3. Pretty cool chart, Cathy. Must be motivating to see it all laid out. I've been working on two book reviews and gave my kitchen a good cleaning. Hope to spend some 'quality' time on the novel tomorrow.

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  4. It's amazing how your productivity sky rockets when you track it, eh? I'm part of a writing group where we report our raw wordage each day, and it's make the world of difference in my productivity.

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