Senketsu ni somaru mirai no toki / hageshiku modaeru honnou

(Malice Mizer - Beast of Blood)

The subhed is: On Word Counts

That's not what the song is, though. The translation is: "A future dyed in fresh blood... instincts in intense agony."

It's a great song, though. 

Anyway.

How's everyone doing? 

I'm great!

I've taken on the role of Latinx Features Editor at Rabble Lit, my first collaboration with a magazine since leaving Bartleby Snopes earlier this year.

The other fun update is finishing the first edits to a story that's going to be in my collection, a story involving three different characters and a magical taco truck. It was going to be flash fiction at first...then it turned into a novelette...then it turned into a novella. I'm very proud of myself for it. For starters, it's the longest continuous thing I've ever written. My thesis was around 50,000 words and my NaNo 2015 project was around the same, but they were both collections of short stories. This novella is a single story, and it was around 18,800 words on the first draft. It's...strange going from writing flash fiction to a longer story like that. I mean, This nocturne of misplaced questions was just under 1,000 words. 

There's always pros and cons to writing flash versus writing longer stories. Some people find flash much more challenging because in under 1,000-2,000 words you're supposed to have a story that's engaging and has conflict. I don't find that issue as challenging as I do writing a consistent character over the course of nine times that number of words. I started reading Mercedes Lackey's Arrows of the Queen two weeks ago and the first thing I thought was OH MY GOD WHY ARE THERE SO MANY WORDS IN JUST THIS FIRST SENTENCE.

Reading needs some adjusting ;)

But since we're on the subject of word counts, this is another thing where I'm a bit of a different type of writer than the average ones I see on Facebook. I don't like word counts. The only times word counts have mattered to me were when I competed in NaNoWriMo and when I was drafting query letters. Other than that, I don't do word counts.

And, not that it needs to be said again, but: this is entirely my own opinion and part of my own "process". It's not to say YOUR process is wrong. It's not to say you HAVE to do this. It's to say, this is how I work. Now, if you think that my process is wrong, well...

 

Here is why I don't do word counts:

I don't find them helpful. Let's take the nano example. You have to write 1,667 words a day to have 50,000 by month's end.

When I wrote my NaNo collection, I didn't do that. I'd have days where I'd write 8,000 words across two different stories; and consecutive days when I'd be lucky to string together 15 words at a time. I still won even if it meant I wasn't writing during the Thanksgiving holiday because, let's be realistic, I'm not going to be writing when there's food to be eaten and football to be watched.

I obviously fell short in November 2016 but I had surgery and other events going on kinda depressed me to the level  where I wasn't even writing 100 words a day, let alone 1,667.

Outside of NaNo, though? My stories are short stories, mostly flash with the exception of the most recent novella. When writing flash fiction, the only word count that should matter is 2,000, and that's on the long end. 2,000 is a good number to shoot for because then you have to knock it down to under 1,000 if you're looking for the more common flash fiction magazines.

(Journalist adage: it's easier to strip down a story than it is to add on to a story)

And my approach isn't "just write more" but rather, "just finish the damn thing" but with the little caveat that finishing isn't saying THE END. It's finishing a story the way it's supposed to and not in a rushed, convoluted mess of words so I can go DONE. FINISHED. SOMEONE PLEASE PAT ME ON THE BACK.

It's inefficient. It's lazy, and it's just going to mean more work for me, and that in turn turns into more time spent. As we used to say whenever we got scooped by our competition: Better to be right than first. 

(Flashback vindication: In the three and a half years that I was a part-time journalist, we maybe printed two retractions.)

Rushing to finish means that at some point in the editing stage I'm going to have to stop and switch gears violently and go from EDIT MODE to OH RIGHT I NEED TO WRITE THIS PART BECAUSE I RUSHED MODE.

So because of the changing gears, I'm going to have to stop all editing progress right at the point where I had to make the changes, and then start over. For instance, when I was coming up near the end of the novella, I realized that there were some inconsistencies in one of the scenes. Rather than just adding 'PLACEHOLDER TEXT TO EXPLAIN THIS'. I went back, found the inconsistencies, fixed them, and was able to finish the story. So now when I work on the editing, I'm just editing. Grammar edits, content edits, etc.  Whatever writing I do falls squarely in the scope of editing.

There'll be AT LEAST two content edits, AT LEAST two grammar edits, before I can take it out of my hands and hand it over to a beta reader, and then when I get it back, I'll add another content edit and another grammar edit, and then lock it in. 

If I were to be writing novels I'd take the same approach. I mean, different books have different word counts and different chapter lengths. 3,000 words for Jim Butcher may not be the same as 3,000 words for Brandon Sanderson or 3,000 words for the James S.A. Corey duo or 3,000 words for John Scalzi. 

3,000 words for George R.R. Martin is half a chapter in the ASoIaF series

The story I mentioned earlier (This nocturne...) can fit six times into a single one of the man's chapters.

That's my focus. My focus isn't on word counts. My focus is making sure the process continues and that I am progressing on whatever story I'm working on.