writing for quality over quantity: beware of the dreaded word count

IMG_4939These days, every genre has its requirements/preferences.

Adult Novels can be up around 80k, sometimes higher.

YA it’s good to be between 55k-80k.

PB you shoot for 28-32 pages, keeping it below 1,000 words so it doesn’t seem too long.

MG is safe between 20k-55k, depending on subject matter.

(Thanks for the info, Writer’s Digest!)

But the truth of the matter is, focusing on word count while you’re writing can throw off your groove. You’re afraid to add that subplot that the book needs because it will push you over that high number of word count. Or, you’re book is a little shorter and you’re worried that will scare away agents/editors/publishers. Whatever it is- it’s hard not to think about the word count.

So how do you do it? How do you write, submit, edit (and so forth) without worrying about the end number of words that will be sitting at the bottom of your word document?

Remember it will CHANGE

Word counts change with every draft, every edit, every time you sit down to look at your masterpiece. This is why it’s so important to have writing counterparts- your critical readers and writing buddies and critique partners and editors and fellow writers. If you do it all on your own, then your work is more than likely never going to be as good as it can be.

Keep exceptions in mind 

Books push boundaries. As readers and writers this is good to keep in mind. I’m not saying that you should be like Ulysses and have your opening sentence being pages and pages long, but it’s good to keep in mind that there are always authors who can push those boundaries/limits/suggestions and do it well. Maybe your MG is a little long, and it worries you– but it is all together and beautifully rafted. Don’t worry. Either someone will love it, or someone will help you tender it to the right word-length.

Just keep WRITING

Goodness knows that if you focused on everything that could go wrong, or everything that is wrong, or everything that you NEED to do to get your novel there– it would never be written. My first book I was so concerned with the chapters being the same amount of pages that it almost kept me from writing certain scenes, and almost made me write in things that weren’t needed. In fact, if you ask my editor, she’ll tell you these things were there in the first draft. Because I was SO worried about hitting a certain amount of words, that I lost track of what I was really writing.

As always, my final suggestion is to just keep going. Write what you have in mind, and then whether you need to add or cut- it’s going to be alllllll right.

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All The Missing Girls book review

17308699_435957483418193_4427007164832455838_nI picked up this book of the recommendation of my agent, and I’m not sorry at all. I absolutely love crime/mystery/thrillers, although I don’t read them as often as I did in the days of Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie (when I was younger). This book took me a minute to stick with it, but once it started tugging with clues and suspicion, I could not stop!

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all  down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love

I loved that this book was written “backwards.” At first I wasn’t sure. I thought, how is this going to work? But once I got pulled into it, it was such a cool way to read. When you got to earlier chapters, things continued to make more and more sense as the mystery unfolded. Not only that, but things from earlier in the book, but later in the timeline, became clearer, hoping me draw conclusions and call the killer.

Just so we’re clear, I’m pretty sure no one can guess the ending of this book. That’s why you should read it!

I gave it four stars on Goodreads, mostly because there were some parts where I wasn’t really sure it was helping the story, but overall this book was so worth the read. More than worth the read.

Go get it!

trackback thursday: remember the Alamo

 

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photo credit: history.com

On March 6, 1836 For Alamo fell to Mexican troops after a siege that lasted around thirteen days.

The bravery and resistance of those at the Alamo made for the rallying cry, “Remember the Alamo!” The Texans went on to defeat General Santa Anna in the Battle of San Jacinto in April.

Many months before this, Texans had driven Mexican troops out of Mexican Texas. About 100 Texans were garrisoned at the Alamo, and the forces only grew slightly when joined by co-commanders James Bowie and William B. Travis. On February 23rd, around 1500 Mexicans marched to retake Texas.

Over the next ten days, the armies engaged in many skirmishes with few casualties. Travis was aware that his men could not withstand an attack by such a large force; he wrote multiple letters pleading for more men and supplies, but they were reinforced by fewer than 100 men.

In the early morning hours of March 6th, the Mexican Army advanced on the Alamo. After repelling two attacks, the Texans were unable to fend the Mexican Army off a third time.

“Remember the Alamo” created two sparks: a rush of men, wishing to join the Texan army, and a panic that led to many soldiers and settlers fled the new Republic of Texas, away from the advancing Mexican Army.

 

Honestly, when I think of the Alamo, I think of the movie that came out years ago… 2004… with Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton. I know, kind of pathetic. But it’s one place I would love to visit! Raise your hand (or leave a comment) if you’ve been there.

REMEMBER THE ALAMO!

 

damaged goods by jennifer bardsley, a book review

IMG_0637If you haven’t read Genesis Girl, the first book in the BLANK SLATE set– stop right now, and go read it.

After you’ve done that (and I don’t think it will take you long, because it consumes you until you’re finished), you can come back and read this review about the second book of BLANK SLATE.

Here’s what Goodreads has to say about Damaged Goods:

Blanca has everything she ever wanted, a hot boyfriend and the loving support of her foster father. She’s finally escaped the abusive control of her birth father and her tortured childhood at Tabula Rasa School.

But the scars of Blanca’s Vestal upbringing run deep, especially when the FBI start asking questions.

Blanca feels abandoned by her boyfriend, who is hunting for Lilith, Blanca’s only blood relative. The Defectos, a support group of Vestal-Rejects, offer Blanca comfort which she readily accepts.

While the Vestal order crumbles, Chinese rivals, the Guardians, rise to power and wrest control of important Tabula Rasa contacts. As Blanca’s life is thrown into chaos once more, she struggles to recognize friend from foe, and one miscalculation can have devastating consequences.

This sequel to Genesis Girl sucked me in, fast. Thanks to having a sick day, I read the majority of this book in one setting, and I’m so glad I got to do just that.

I loved the questions that were answered in this book, the ones we were left with after reading Genesis Girl, and I loved the twists and turns this sequel took us on. The twists, in the end, that were presented might have made me gasp out loud.

The biggest thing I love about both of these books is the big idea it presents with the Vestals. A community of kids being raised in a hunkered-down school that is technology free does not feel like it’s something too far off from our future. In fact, all the ideas that Bardsley presents gives a person pause, considering the technology age we live in today.

I love Blanca’s character and how she struggles with not wanting to be a brainwashed Vestal, but still hold true to the way she was raised without the burden of too much technology.

The only thing that left me a little puzzled were the questions we didn’t get answered in this book, which makes me hope/hanker for a third book.

If you haven’t read these books, I’m very serious: Go. Now.