Charting the Progress

Charting the Progress, originally uploaded by Jaquandor.

It’s been a long time since I wrote about my progress (or lack thereof) on the fiction writing front, so here’s an update. This photo is a screengrab of the spreadsheet I use to track the word count of the Novel-in-Progress (code-named, Princesses In SPACE!). I’ve been trying to hit a personal quota of 500 words a day, which has produced close to 90,000 words as of this writing.

I generally try to aim for chapters that aren’t too terribly long, but aren’t ridiculously short, either. I’ve read a few books that had over a hundred chapters that were two or three pages each, and that always bugs me, for some reason — it just makes the book feel herky-jerky. But the other way — really long chapters — doesn’t do it for me, either. I’m trying to stick in the middle.

I also had an original goal of keeping my chapters roughly in the same ballpark, in terms of length, but that hasn’t worked out quite so well. The early chapters are fairly brief, but they get longer after chapter ten. Maybe this isn’t a problem; I don’t end chapters for length specifically, but I do try to end them on logical breaking points.

So: I have almost 88,000 words in. Right under that total, I have an entry labeled MMPB and another labeled TWMF. What’s this about?

Well, MMPB stands for “Mass Market Paper Back”. The publishing industry uses word count as its standard measure for book length, for many good reasons; but sometimes I just find it nice to be able to figure where I am, roughly, if the book was to actually be printed. Now, this can vary a lot with considerations such as the font used and the print size, but I generally assume that a mass-market paperback novel will have roughly 400 words a page. So, that entry is simply the total word count divided by 400.

TWMF? Well…this is purely a conceit of mine, just an effort to try to remind myself not to get too long-winded in telling this tale. This bit of division yields to me the rough whereabouts of my story as compared with Patrick Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear, which is a really long book. TWMF, then, refers to the page I would be on if my book were printed like the Advance Review Copy I have of Rothfuss’s doorstop of a novel. Luckily I’m nowhere near where he ended up for length, and I’m unlikely to get there. I hope to have the first draft, when it’s complete, somewhere between 160,000 and 180,000 words. Maybe less, if that’s the way the story unfolds.

So, there we go. Hooray for Space Princesses!

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One Response to Charting the Progress

  1. M. D. Jackson says:

    They get written one word at a time and each word has to be the right one. Keep going. (But I hope your final title is better than Space Princesses)

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