Wednesday, March 21, 2012

You've Come A Long Way Baby (a post on adding word count)

This ad is so ridiculously funny on so many levels that I couldn't resist. Which is more superior to men? Women? Or the cigarettes?  Anyway, back to the post.

As you can see from my progress bar, I completed the layering operation for BITE ME, YOUR GRACE. W000T! I didn't quite get it up to the 90K I was aiming for, but considering that the very, very first draft was only 55 K, I think I did okay...and I learned a lot about adding necessary word count.

By the time I got the deal with Sourcebooks, the manuscript was at 78K, but they wanted 10K more. "No problem," I thought. I already had a bunch of ideas. 

But then I went through the book and immediately saw some of my amateur attempts to plump up the book: Clunky descriptions, redundant dialogue tags, you name it. During the latest overhaul, I had to cut almost as many words than I added. 

Thankfully, I noticed a major thing that was missing in the book: Emotion. It seemed that whenever I described how a character felt about a situation, it was all tell and no show. Besides the fact that this was only my 3rd manuscript and I was still honing my craft, I believe there are other reasons for this flaw in the story...but that will be another post. :) 

I wish I could post a magical formula of how to effectively layer a manuscript, but I don't feel anywhere near being an expert on it yet. My advice is sheer trial and error, learning what works and what doesn't. Also GET A CRITIQUE GROUP! Mine has been invaluable with this experience. 

On another note: Fellow Casablanca author, Shana Galen kinda laughed at me a bit when she heard of my plight. Apparently she has the opposite problem.

Which makes me wonder: How many of you are slim with your word counts and how many always seem to need to cut?


  1. I remember writing essays in high school, and they were never long enough. Now that I am writing something I want to write, well, still over 200k and a fourth of the way done with the first re-write. It seems like everything is essential to the plot, and no matter how simply I state it it takes words. Makes me wonder who exactly I am writing this for.

  2. Maybe you can divide it into 2 or 3 books? You'd have to smooth it out so it transitions better, but I hear that is often done in the fantasy genre.

  3. I'd have to agree with Shana. Lack of wording never seems to be a problem for me. It's always the opposite, and them I'm biting my nails trying to figure out what to cut or what's not so important that it could be left out. For me adding seems to be the easy part. --Millie

  4. I'm with you Brooklyn. My manuscripts tend to come out at just under 70K. I can generally layer to about 80K, but they are still "short" according to industry standards. *shrug* Everyone has a learning curve.