Tag Archives: word counts

Progress and a Clever Crime Writer: Tim Baker

I have been working on writing this crime novel steady since May 4th, even though I had the first three chapters, which I rewrote, done back in November. The ideas for this novel have been in my head for about ten years. I trashed all that—the three chapters not part of the current novel—keeping an old file of those first person chapters. The original was in the murder victim’s husband’s POV…which made no sense. But I knew that character and the plan was to have a murder mystery, not a crime novel. I pull little details from that file from time to time.

After I decided on a crime novel (NOT police procedural) and put the novel in the private investigator’s POV along with Brandi’s, the sidekick he doesn’t want to have, she also needed a POV.  I don’t stick exactly to an alternating POV, but their chapters, thus far, have been clearly and specifically their chapters.

They haven’t been together much for the first half of the novel. Now it is coming upon a part where they will need to be. I am hoping their voices are well developed enough by this point not to be too confusing. The narration is third person, so I’m feeling pretty comfortable.

I now stand at 26,439 words, and I am about half way through the story I am telling. My husband is over eager. He has helped me along, when asked for details, but only read the first chapter, so far. He is an avid crime novel /murder mystery reader and loved the last one, but likes this rewrite much better.

My word count comes to about 2644 per day, over ten working days, but I am writing on weekends too, so it’s really not that many in a day. Add five more weekend days and you get more like 1767 words per day. I know some days it is only 300-500, and others are well over 3000, so who is to say what a word count is worth?

I do try to keep chapters to around 1500 words for short ones and around 3000 for a few longer ones. That has more to do with the rhythm of the read and the pace than anything else. So far, I am up to Chapter Thirteen and about in the middle of that. I am guessing less than thirty chapters.

An author my husband, the rocket scientist, has been reading is Tim Baker. His work is similar to Tim Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen. Both authors I love. In many ways, I think Tim Baker’s work shows more cleverness. The rocket scientist reads me chapters out loud from time to time, and I am anxious to read his work myself. I’ll be reading and reviewing later.

One thing he did, and I plan to communicate with him about this, is published a short story written by another author at the end of one of his books. The story was the result of a contest he held. I am supposing he already had a fan base built up, and beta readers, or other bloggers who were interested enough to participate.

The story was knee slapping hilarious and was like a piece of fan fiction relative to his characters, but using a topic he selected.  The topic was “death”. The writer who won the contest and was published in his work made fun of what might have been a plot hole, his use of commas (or improper use), and other such sillies. It involved a dead body left to rot in a character’s house. How much fun is that!?

I don’t know how he would feel if I stole his idea. I would like to mull over the details on how he set that up with him and see if he would mind if I tried something like that in the future. I would need a fan base first. So I am talking way along in the series.  It really shows the camaraderie of self-published authors to promote and exchange ideas like that. I love it. It’s exciting to see that sort of mutual support. The story was great and I can’t wait to download his stuff on my iPad. I’ll never get my husband’s away from him.

Here are some of his titles if you want to check him out. We found that we have to put both his author name and the title into Amazon to pull up some of his older works. There are a few authors by that name so make certain you have the correct Tim Baker. I really don’t know if he’s still writing. I think his last novel was published in 2011. Of course, he could just be serving time somewhere. Ha!

Played With Scrivener Today In My Revised Crime Novel

I have been writing in my WIP for a few days and playing around in Scrivener so I thought I would pop in and do a quick progress report. I have 8593 words on the revised crime novel and things are going very well. I did not write today but reviewed and worked on typing up the synopses. I am not outlining in advance, but keeping notes on what I have already written. This is a fast paced story with a lot of twists and turns, so I need notes that I can refer to easily to recall who did what when. (You can click the images for a close up view w/o leaving the page. It opens in another window.)

A quick overview: This is in editor mode. You can also type in full screen mode where EVERYTHING on either side, above and below the editor panel is blacked out for zero distractions. The binder is on the left and you can move chapters and scenes around in there easily. I don’t have folders set up with several scenes. I have the entire chapter set up as the scene in the chapter folder. Less complicated for me that way. As you can see down at the bottom, your chapter word count is in the center, the little orange bar indicates that I am not quite half way to my target word count. I am not really worrying about word counts as I go. You’ll see that in the outline. This chapter is in Brandi’s POV as you can see from the purple dot on the Inspector panel on the right.

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In this next shot, you see the POV (marked by the red X) is in Richard’s. All of the other main characters in this chapter show up as colored keywords below. Above, (circled in red) is the synopsis. Many people write this in advance to cue them along. I wait until the chapter is done and then make notes of highlights in the chapter to help me keep facts straight. It is easier to see it listed here than to try to pick through a whole chapter to find details. The target progress indicator at the bottom is green because this chapter is complete.

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In the corkboard mode you can set up index cards with your synopses or, like I did here, character sketch images. It’s just a fun way to see them at a glance if you need that visual reminder. With your synopsis as index cards, you can move them around on the corkboard and that changes their order in the binder if you need to shift scenes around.

 

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In the binder to your left the character profiles are listed for a quick click to review details and have reminders of specific traits you don’t want to violate in character development. Brandi’s profile is shown, and as you can see in the binder it highlights in blue (see the text page is blue at the red X) whenever anything in the binder is selected so you know exactly where you are. That’s true for the editor mode also.

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Finally, the outliner mode. Again, you can set this up in advance and follow it or just let it happen as you go along like I am. You can see all your word counts here or click on your manuscript button in your binder for the complete word count. The synopses also show here and, again, you can move scenes or chapters around in here, which will also move them in the binder.

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When I am all done with the first draft, I can edit with split screens if I need to. I can compile into a number of files; .epub, .mobi, .pdf, .txt, .doc, and a number of other text files I have no idea what to do with. Then, they can be sent off easily for beta readers, editors, or even publishing. There are all sorts of formatting features and compile features that I will show later. There are also some very cool features in tools and options.

That’s all folks! This is what I did today. What are you doing?

Back to writing!

Sunday Synopsis: Word Counts and Retirement

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I just reread this post and it came across to me as if I am very unhappy, so I want to qualify here before I push the publish button. I am very happy. Most likely the happiest person you know. I have a really good life and know that I am most fortunate to have the support that I do. I am going to post this anyway.

I have a good number of author friends who hold day jobs and have careers. Often, they speak of retirement and writing full-time.

It is a delusion that having more time will lead to more writing.

Before you attack, allow me to explain from my own personal point of view.

writing box 002I was looking for my old Brother word processor, after having found a couple of boxes of floppy disks. The floppy disks hold some writing I did in the 80s that was never printed. I wanted to see if the rocket scientist could, maybe, get the Brother up and running well enough to get a screen, and perhaps print off some of the content. I have at least two packs of ribbon cartridges. Don’t know if they’ll work. They may be too dry. I know there are places that can take your floppy disks and convert the files, but I don’t even know if it is worth the bother/expense. It would be nice if I could remember what all I wrote, but I can’t.

While looking, I ran across an old plastic container and a few shoe boxes filled writing from that era. Now you have to keep in mind that was a time when I wrote during every spare minute I had. Those were far and few between, because at that same time I was going to school 40 miles away in one direction, working a full time job 20 miles away in another direction, (and sometimes a part-time job, too) raising three kids who had school, tae kwon do, softball, soccer, cheerleading, gymnastics, scouts, and so on. Granted, I had some downtime after my youngest son was born in 1985. Two years.

Yet, here’s what I found:

  • 1200 pages (yes pages, not words) of the story of my life. About every memory I possessed at the time; from tossing my New Testament out the window and into the rain at the age of two (when I got my first spanking) to birthing my third child while wearing tennis shoes at age 25.
  • A 300 page story about a young contemporary witch (a pharmaceutical chemist) who inherits a magical ruby ring from her grandmother and her witch family (probably influenced by reading LOTRs, or maybe Anne Rice, can’t recall the exact years I read Anne).
  • Six chapters into an historical fiction about Martha Washington’s relationship with the African American mother of Washington’s mulatto children. (Perhaps based on a true story I read…most likely somebody has already done this).
  • A horror story about a lady with cats I had published at age 17 years.
  • I have this really cool sci-fi fantasy started about this league of aliens from different planets coming back to earth to reclaim the races…in 2020. It’s very interesting reading.
  • Dozens of short stories (or at least what looks like the start of short stories). Lots of them are southern folklore I learned growing up and recorded in my own words. There’s even one where John Lennon lives. (You know, like Elvis.)
  • Tons of dark poetry. (four shoe boxes) We’re talking nuclear destruction, biological and chemical warfare, death and dying, pollution and environmental catastrophe, loss, psychotic mind breaks.

I’m not saying this is good writing, but it is writing. I couldn’t recall having written so much.

Now all of this was written (either on a typewriter or a word processor, NOT a computer) in my twenties, when I had first been diagnosed with bipolar, and before I was stabilized on meds. I don’t doubt that most of this was written in the midst of some manic or depressive episode.

I first started thinking about the story in Red Clay and Roses in 1992. I wrote nothing. The nineties were filled with teenagers, professional career, and divorce. Then I was single, struggling to survive and socialize myself in another state. There was no time for writing. Life just got in the way.

We come to 2012. I’m stable. I’m retired. I have nothing but time and support. Perhaps coming off of a manic episode that followed suddenly stopping a thirty year career; I wrote Red Clay and Roses. Not as a novel, not that formally. It was a story in my head that I had wanted to write since 1992. A visit to Georgia that included reuniting with a cousin whose life intersected with that story in ways I had never known about inspired me to write. In my newfound serenity of retirement I pounded that story out in four months.  I researched and wrote during every waking moment for four months.

98,362 words.  Writing Monday through Friday, that’s roughly 88 days, which comes to 1118 words per day. That’s if I wrote every day like a 9-5 job. That includes research time, which is something I spent a lot of time on.

So I set myself what I considered a reasonable word count goal with my current WIP, 500 words per day.

I thought surely I could at least write 500 words per day. Most certainly I could get my next first draft written in a year.

I was also blogging, so I put myself on blogging restriction for a couple of reasons.

  1. I was getting too intimidated by rules. Writing rules, rules, rules and more rules. Every post I read explained these rules, and advice. I’m capable of learning. I wanted to improve my writing. Seriously. The rules suck. They have thwarted my creativity beyond belief. The perfectionist in me, my internal editor, is too damned concerned about following the rules to get anything much accomplished.
  2. Time. Blogging takes time.

Now I think. I spend the minutes thinking. Hours, days, weeks, I spend thinking. I think all the time. I think about writing. I wake up thinking about writing. I think all day about writing. I think about writing hours after I have laid myself down at night. I think about the rules. I think about the story I am trying to tell. I think about the characters, their motivations, emotions, behaviors, words. I think about the plot, the hook, the pace, the development. I think about the right words, the right phrases, and the right prose. I think about backstory, information dumps, showing, not telling.

Sometimes I’ll have a thought, a really good one, and I can’t hold it. I lose it almost as quickly as the thought occurred. I have no memory. I used to recall phone numbers two weeks after I was given them without ever having written them down, and now, I can’t seem to be able to hold a creative thought from my mind to the screen.

I’m overthinking. Yet I can’t recall my thoughts.

Screw the rules and I can sit down and pump out 3000 words in one day.

Then I spend hours and hours rewriting, revising.

Other days I am lucky to write one sentence.

Many, many days I spend thinking.

Word counts? Pfft!

So what is it that stifles my creativity and cripples my mind? My word count?

Rules, too many years on psychotropic drugs, old age?

I have nothing but time, and yet the clock ticks.

Retirement plans. Word counts. Discipline. Stability. Too many stories in my head.

I just want to effectively tell a story.

I have been working on this since November and don’t have 20,000 words.

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http://forlackofabettercomic.com/                                       Jacob Andrews

Questions for Readers to Aid With WIP

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I have a few quick questions for readers:

How long do you like for your chapters to be?

This is a crime novel that I am putting together.

I am hoping for it to become a series, so the word count per book probably won’t be as long as a stand alone book would be.

I have read some James Patterson, Jonathan and Faye Kellerman recently and find most of the chapters to be short and numerous.

Some of these books have as many as 44 chapters, but still having the same numbers of pages per book as other books with fewer chapters.

Do you like for each chapter to cover just one scene, or do you like two or three scenes in one chapter?

I am using Scrivener for setting up the novel, so scenes are easy to move around.

With my last book, a Historical Fiction/Faction novel, the chapters were very long, 20-30 pages, often with numerous scenes in one chapter, but it covered many years, not just days or weeks. In paperback it has come to 430 pages, 98,000 words. (286 on a reader).

Some people complained that the chapters were too long.

Do you get bored or tired of reading books with long chapters, even if fleurons are used to break up scenes?

Do you feel, as a reader, that shorter chapters are easier to get through?  Do you prefer just one scene per chapter or does it depend on the flow of the story?

This is a new genre for me and genre writing and rules can be very different.

Page counts can be tricky.  The word count per page is typically 350 words.

Word counts for scenes are usually about 1500 to 2000 words (about 5-6 pages).

Some people feel short chapters can be too distracting.

Would you want your chapters to be 2000 words (5-6 pages), or would 6000 words (or would 15-20 pages) work for you?

I am shooting for an 80,000 word count novel.

That would give me just shy of 230 (paperback) pages, maybe a little more.

If it goes as long as 100,000, it would make it roughly 286 pages.

Would you feel like you are getting your money’s worth at 80,000 words or would you want to see at least 100,000?

Any ideas, thoughts, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!