Word Count has Meaning

Word count seems to have meaning in my writing. It went kind of like this today.

I got to the writing cabin at about 5:30 AM. Lisa* was still getting ready, so I grabbed coffee and headed into the office I’m using for this story.

Doubt** was still asleep with the time change, and I was thankful. Today was dedicated to new words and I didn’t need his grumbling to slow me down.

I still spent an hour going back over the last section I’d written. This is my normal routine, and it keeps me on track for the next section. I always like to refresh myself as to whether something happened on a Monday or a Friday. It helps me avoid problems later on. I don’t know why I need a raven of doubt to slow me down anyway. I always had enought doubts on my own.

I wound up deleting a few paragraphs and replacing them with better paragraphs. One quick glance at the outline, and I was off and running.

I remember Lisa drifting through in her mad scientist getup. She had a lab coat with bloody pawprints on over a skull tee shirt with tights and boots. A pair of leather goggles served as a headband. She topped off my coffee and disappeared.

I spent a long time moving my characters around to set up the first scene. Teenagers don’t always have access to a car, and this had to be set up. When I was ready, I deviated from the outline. I’ve not discussed this very much, but deviating from the outline is fairly regular.

Sometimes, I have to go back and work on the outline again. This may be one of those times. I wasn’t about to stop today though.

“Lisa, come in here. I need some help,” I yelled.

She brought the coffee pot and trotted down the stairs. “What’s up, Boss?”

“Set that down. I need your help. If I were to grab your ear and threaten you, how would you react?”

“I’d probably punch your throat out and kick you in the balls.”

“Wow, really?”

“That’s my training. Why?”

“Okay, a teenage girl–


“Yeah, Patty. She’s in trouble, but her life isn’t threatened. It’s a different kind of trouble. What would she do?”

“How far along her journey have you come?”

“Pretty far. She’s matured a little.”

“Okay. I take it you want a milder reaction. Could she scream for help?”

“There’s no one else around, and she knows that.”

Lisa cupped her hand around her chin and paced. “Okay, grab my ear and let’s walk through it.”

I don’t know why I listened, but I grabbed her ear, and threatened to call her parents.

“Wait, what’s my motivation here?”

“Patty hasn’t done what the guy thinks she has, but he’s going to call her parents and tell them anyway. She’s on her lunch break and if she doesn’t get back to school, she’s going to get into trouble.”

“Got it. Try again.”

I grabbed her ear and threatened to call her parents.

Lisa stomped down so hard on my foot that I fell head forward into the couch. Then she kicked hard, but stopped at the surface of my ribs.

“How’s that?” she asked.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and I pressed my face into the sofa cushion. “That should work.”

“Thanks. So, do I get credit in your book?”

“No. You don’t have any lines.”

“Fine. Here’s your coffee.” She stomped off into the lobby.

Doubt, the raven woke up and made some of his raven sounds. I swear it sounded like laughing.

I limped back to the desk and kept going.

I managed three pretty good scenes before my battery wanted to die. My word count is up to 52,870. That makes 3203 for this writing session.

My writing always starts with a pretty decent word count. It lags when I get to the middle, but picks back up again when I get near the end. I know I’m getting away from the middle, and my word count is just as expected.

I have about four big things before I get to the end, and I’m worrying about coming up short. There’s probably a fifth bit involving a denoument right at the end.

I’m also concerned about who this might be for. I see it as suitable for kids, but there’s some swearing and violence in it. The twelve year old of today is different than the twelve year old of my day. I think they can handle more today. I also don’t think they would like something all sugary and sweet.

I’m of the mind to write my story and figure it all out later. I’d like to know what other writers think though. Let me hear it in the comments.

I called Lisa back. I don’t like hurting her feelings, and she’s been one of my strongest supporters.

“What do you need, now?” she asked.

“I just want to visit. I’m about done for the day, and we’ve been hitting it pretty hard.”

She sat down and crossed her legs. “We ought to think about taking the skis off your gyrocopter pretty soon. It’s going to get muddy any day now.”

“What then? Will the tires work?”

“Not too sure. The little runway is grassy. If you come early it will still be frozen. Landing is the hardest part. You could even take off on the highway. I can carry the ‘copter out there for you if we have too.”

“What if you used the tractor while it’s frozen and added snow to the runway?”

“Maybe, but you’re going to have to let it thaw eventually. You look tired, do you want a sandwich and a nap?”

“That sounds great.”

* Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She works as my assistant these days, and is a robot.

** Doubt is a raven. He was a gift from my Muse.


Filed under Muse, Writing

2 responses to “Word Count has Meaning

  1. Just because your protagonist is a kid, doesn’t mean your book is JF or YA. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and O, the Brave Music all deal with distinctly adult problems that would go over the heads of most kids (but would maybe scare the bejaysus out of a few precocious ones who might have been previously victimized and traumatized). You have my permission to write the dang book without worrying about the age of your audience. Then BISAC it as General Fiction and get on with the next story. (BTW, thanks for liking my post.)


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