It’s hard being the person every one comes to for answers… and you don’t have any.
Image from Pinterest
Two days ago, I was drowning in confusion and doubt.
Okay. That’s not an unusual thing for me, but in this instance, it was over the direction of my Camp NaNo project, Sins of the Mother.
One day, I’m clipping right along meeting new characters and twisting plots, and the next I’m staring at my monitor screaming, “Who are you people?”
I switch up this morning and now I’m staring at my scene board.
I move Post-its Notes around, trying to get a better flow and I hummed.
Normal for me.
Then I started singing.
Still not out of character.
But, it’s what I’m singing that makes me laugh out loud… after I finish, of course.
Just what makes that little old ant
Thinks he can move that rubber tree plant?
Anyone knows an ant can’t
Move a rubber tree plant.
But he’s got high hopes
He’s got high hopes
He’s got high-in-the-sky apple pie hopes
So any time you’re feeling low instead of letting go
Just remember that ant
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant.
After a good laugh at myself, I sat down and wrote seventeen-hundred words.
Thanks, Laverne & Shirley!
Day 23 word count – 39,257
What are acceptable book lengths? Answers can vary depending on who you ask, but in general:
Flash fiction: 500 words or less.
Short Story: 5,000–10,000 words.
Novella: 10,000–40,000 words.
Novel: Anything over 40,000 words,
Some writers only write one length, meaning everything they write is always over 40K, or less than 10K, etc. It can also depend on genre and content.
But, that’s if you’re planning a certain type of book.
What if you set out to write 75, 000 words but only get to 36,000, did you fail?
Perhaps you were overzealous in estimating book length, or, you haven’t gone deep to flesh out and develop characters or plot.
I have a Camp NaNo buddy who’s having a meltdown as we begin counting down the last week of Camp NaNoWriMo.
She pledged to write a book 65K in length, but she’s written all of her planned twenty-six scenes/chapters and has only reached 48K.
The beauty of Camp NaNo is you can adjust your words/pages/hours. When I suggested she do this, her meltdown intensified. So, I took the opposite approach and told her to get busy writing because the missing 17K wasn’t going to write itself.
She insists she’s told the story she intended to tell.
So. What’s the problem here?
Books are the products of imagination and research but they’re not rocket science.
We’ve all read the book we wished was longer, just as we’ve read that book which went on and on and because laborious.
Editing can solve most of these problems if writers allow it. If an editor advises cutting out characters/scenes/chapters and the writer balks, there isn’t much the editor can do. There is no literary death match between writers and editors.
Writers must be ready to kill their darlings to publish the best book possible, and sometimes that also means adjusting our mindsets… and word counts.
Because everyone knows the first draft is crap anyway.
Day 20 word count – 37,511
Yes, I’ve reached the weird point of Camp NaNo.
I’m used to new characters popping up.
I’m okay with plot twists breezing in from nowhere.
I’m even okay with rewriting a scene several times.
But I hate when I get to the I don’t even know what I’m writing about stage.
And I’m there… big-time.
Here’s a brief excerpt—while I go figure this thing out!
Startled and disoriented, Sally bolted upright. She looked around the dark room, trying to get her bearings.
She laughed at herself after glancing toward the hallway.
Real good, Bennett. What kind of caregiver are you falling asleep on the job?
A swipe of her e-reader provided light and the time.
My word! Has it been almost four hours since I gave Graciela her meds? I’d better see if she’s sleeping or needs them again.
Sally held the reader over the edge of the chair, looking for her overnight bag. She reached for it, but froze when she thought she heard a large thump.
What was that noise?
She sat motionless on the edge of the chair listening for the sound again. Hearing nothing, Sally grabbed the bag and tossed it onto the foot of the bed. Reaching for the table-side lamp, she heard the noise again, louder and closer.
No, no! I hope Graciela isn’t up trying to get her own meds. Why didn’t she call out for me? Damn it! Maybe she did and I was asleep.
Feeling her back pocket for her cell, Sally raced the few steps down the hall to her client’s room.
She froze in the doorway.
A dark figure was on top of Graciela.
Without thinking, Sally charged the bed, launching herself at the assailant. She heard a sharp intake of air as the intruder fell toward the foot of the bed.
Sally took the few precious seconds to drag the small woman from the bed. Not able to tell if Graciela was wounded and too terror-stricken to speak, Sally pushed her toward the bedroom door, screaming one word, “Run!”
With her arms out in front of her, the spry senior bolted for the door, feeling her way down the hall.
Before Sally could follow, she felt a hand grab her arm, pulling her back to the bed. She whirled around, swinging blindly with her free hand. Her punch connected with the intruder, but he didn’t let go. As he pulled her closer, Sally bit the hand clutching her arm. Muttering a curse, he let go and Sally flipped onto her back, kicking her legs wildly.
Her attacker leaned down, grabbing the front of her shirt and flung her from the bed. She crashed into the dresser, slumping to floor.
Praying Graciela had found her way out, Sally knew her time was growing short. Her heart raced as she looked up at the shadowy figure approaching, blocking her path to the door.
His breathing was hard and labored.
Sally froze. Something about him was familiar.
She could see him raising his arm and the hallway light behind him allowed Sally to see he wore a ski mask… and the glint of his knife.
Adrenalin barreled through her body. Sally Bennett would not hand this killer her life.
Day 20 word count – 35,987
Image from Pixabay
The Novels of Elmer Seward
Conjured by Sarah Doughty
Author/Speaker/Ghostwriter and Freelance Writer
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