It's not like I haven't been working every single day on my writing. Fall arrives with its events, both family and professional. I'll confess to having brain space issues as some family matters have demanded the lion's share of my processing capacity. Some days, I feel as if I've been shot out of a canon.
Between trips to New York and throughout New England, I've been diligently working on my fourth novel. An author's deep secret is that we often prefer the solace of our work to real life. We can kill a character or two, or cry at our keyboards as we concoct gut-wrenching situations. The hours spent shaping and refining scenes are some of the most rewarding.
But they are lonely hours, and days can blur together. Finding a way to mark progress and feel accomplished is sometimes hard to do, but I discovered a method.
While writing the first draft, I marked progress by noting my word count. Each time I sat down, I noted the prior day's date and the total word count in my WIP in a separate document. Since I'm a pantser, to get back into the flow, I would revise the prior day's work. Sometimes the word count plummeted as I hacked out sections. (I do have a "Dumped Passages" document, so work is not lost forever.) Once buffed, I advance the story.
During the first draft phase, I keep my butt parked until I reached the day's goal, typically a net gain of 500 words. A good day was over 1000. Yes, I've had 5000 word days, but not as a norm. The word count inched upwards. I marked each 10K with a colored highlight and a glass of wine.
According to seasoned agents, the sweet spot for the total word target for my genre, suspense/thriller, is between 90K. It can be up to 100K if the author knocks it out of the park. Find Cally's first draft was completed at 91,286 words.
The first draft is the raw clump of clay on the wheel. Revisions shape and add clarity. I needed to add clarity without adding words. My word count inched up.
This is where the fun part began and I sharpened my skill as a story-teller. By keeping focused on the number of words, I made hard decisions about what advanced the story forward or what passages acted like a sea anchor and slowed my story down. I consolidated dialog and streamlined action.
My editor weighed in. I added two chapters. My count today is 91,281.
I have agents who have requested a full manuscript of Find Cally. I'm confident I'm presenting the best darned product I can within the target word count that will make their hearts pitter patter.
And the long wait of the submission process begins, and I'll be counting days and not words.
I'll be far from idle. You'll find me speaking at libraries and bookstores in New England. I'm muddling through ideas for my fifth novel and I'm thrilled to have sold a short story to Mystery Weekly magazine.
Oh. It's almost Halloween. No more ghosting. Promise.
6/27/2018 91,296 First draft Done!!!whoo hoo! Yippee!
7/30/2018 91,642 first revision minus Dak scene!
8/2/2018 92,974 – insert of redone Dak interview scene
8/6/2018 91,404 second revision! Yahoo! It’s BETA time!
9/4/2018 91,884 After V-Day rework
9/5/2018 91,720 after Mother Love to C4
9/26/2018 91,558 after day 1 revision