Jaysin's Song passed the 25,000 word mark this morning, a quarter of the draft novel completed.
Word length is an interesting challenge when writing. From the outset, way back in 1990, I was advised a fantasy novel should be around 150,000 words. Why? I honestly don't know. I remember, at the time, being told multiple reasons: traditional practices (whatever that meant), reader expectation, print binding issues. As time proves, none of those reasons are valid. Probably the only validity for why a novel is a certain length is the story being written.
Research and industry practice identifies the following divisions when determining the form of a creative prose fiction piece:
For The Last Wizard series, the word length of each novel is determined predominantly by the story being written, and partly for consistency. The original novel, now first in the series, was 98,000 words, so I've set a similar target for the subsequent novels. In unedited draft, for example, Chasse's Song is currently 93,000 words, which gives me space to add and embellish aspects when I do the next edit of the draft.
A word length target also provides a level of discipline to the writing process. For this project, the chapter lengths are set loosely at 3,000 words. This compels me to ensure each chapter is focused on a specific aspect of the story eg a day, an event, a key moment, even a sequence of fast-paced events that make a whole event. The discipline enables me to progress the story/plot in 'logical' chunks (the word 'logical' isn't exactly accurate to describe the aggregate parts of the story), and sets me progressive challenges to meet when I write. In the same way, at a macro level, an overall word length creates a project target and challenge to meet, and forces me to focus my thinking of the story as a whole.
Given that I work fulltime (and more), and the precious nature of time to write, word targets serve a powerful goal and sustainer in the writing process for me. They can be as arbitrary as challenging myself to write 10,000 words in a week (almost unachievable in my circumstances), 3,000 words at a sitting (ie a chapter or a couple of sittings - a common approach for me), and they allow me to predict a timeframe for completing a draft. In the case of this current project, this past week saw an additional 5,000 words added. At that pace, Jaysin's Song is a 20 week drafting project. The Last Wizard four book project then would represent 80 weeks for draft completion at that pace. Then there is re-reading and editing and editing again. Writing fulltime, as I did for the original novel back in 1993 on leave fom teaching, the 98,000 word project took 10 weeks to draft.
Out of curiosity, since starting this blog project, the blog posts from Dec 2018 represent 24,000 words of writing.
Writing is my passion. Ideas, opinions, beliefs, experiences expressed through language - through words and images - pervade and create my life. Writing is my voice, my soul, my self. My dream is one day writing will sustain my life...