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Behind the Scenes of a Novel-Day 5

Updated on September 6, 2012

Words vs Pages

handwritten manuscript
handwritten manuscript

How Do You Count Progress

My first novel Secrets was written in twenty-one days during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). NaNo begins November first and runs through midnight on November thirtieth. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. It is kamikazi writing at it's worst. If you are lucky enough to finish, you are awarded a certificate saying you have accomplished this feat.

Know right up front, while the novel was written, it was not in any way shape or form ready for publication. It went through two edits and then the corrections after the proof copy came. That took another four months. While it is a great way to get your novel down, it is insanity full scale.

So, I have always done a word count for my novels. I use 50,000 words as a minimum. I have often posted on Facebook or in my blog how many words I've done on a given day. This has created an issue in our family. My grandchildren are forever asking if they have enough words for their stories. I keep telling them if it has a beginning, middle, and end and it's done, then they have enough words. However, it does not satisfy them.

There are several ways to count your progress. Use the one that works for you. You can count words. Know that J, K. Rowling had over 100,000 words in her Harry Potter books. Set a minimum amount for yourself and shoot for it. If you run over, more's the better. Remember you may have to cut some when you edit.

Another way is to count pages. Figure four to five pages per chapter. So if you have twenty-five pages you could have five chapters. Some chapters run longer than others. In my book Out of the Flames, some of my chapters were only half a page. It was done on purpose. I don't recommend it. It worked in that book but, I'm sure there was a better way to do it.

You can count chapters. Which is what I am posting these days. On the days I posted I had written 13,465 words, I would get comments about how I could possibly do that. I have friends who don't think they encounter that many words in a week. I'm sure they do, but they don't realize it. To some of them, words are not important. For those of us who live by the words we put together fifty or sixty thousand is no big deal.

Some people figure there are two hundred fifty words to a page. I'm not sure where they come up with that figure. I'd say closer to five hundred words per page. The people who count the words per page then had a rough idea of how many words and pages they have written. Some put on the calendar a daily page, word, or chapter count to keep them on task.

Whatever method you use, it has to be one that works for you. If you outline, you may figure how many words it takes to get a section of your outline done and go from there. I don't outline, so that would not work for me.

Writing is a personal thing. You can read dozens of authors who have their methods for writing. I have probably taken something from each one of them and made it work for me. I now have my own method that works for my personality and style of writing.

Best of luck to you as you work through this. You will need to be able to tell people how you know you're making progress. Find a way you are comfortable with.


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    • Duchessoflilac1 profile image

      Rebecka Vigus 5 years ago from Johns Island, SC

      I sat at my computer. I was determined to get my 50,000 words written. I worked full-time so did marathon writing on the week-ends.

    • Keith Ham profile image

      Keith Ham 5 years ago from Niagara Falls, Ontario

      Wow, in 21 days? WOW, I have no idea how you did this.

    • Leah Vanessa profile image

      Leah Vanessa 5 years ago

      Will do! :)

    • Duchessoflilac1 profile image

      Rebecka Vigus 5 years ago from Johns Island, SC

      Anytime. Feel free to use anything that works for you.

    • Leah Vanessa profile image

      Leah Vanessa 5 years ago

      Cool :) Thank you! :D