top of page

Word Count Disaster

Writing along. Loving every minute. Delighted by my characters, my story, my dialog. So excited to finish my novel on May 6th. 80,000 word deadline set.

80,000 word deadline met.

Only trouble is…

I’m just at the midpoint, story-wise.

And I’m pretty sure my agent and her editor friends would tell me that a 160,000 word YA contemporary is… ahem… unpublishable.

Grandiose? Self-indulgent? Not. Happening.

So, new goal for the month of May.

Every day instead of producing 1000 words minimum, I have to produce 500 new words minimum, and then delete their equivalent from somewhere earlier in the story. I’ll be working on the story from two different places, and that may make me unproductive, or less efficient. I’ll have to see. If it’s problematic, maybe I’ll rotate days. Cutting day and writing day. But I kind of like the idea of earning my new words by cutting old ones.

My only problem is that if I stop producing new content, I lose the momentum, and I find myself paralyzed for a few days when I come back to writing prose. Which is bad for my arbitrary and totally self-imposed deadlines.

My husband and I have a smallish house and a large wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Awhile ago I told him that until we have a bigger house, once the shelves are totally full, we either have to get rid of books or stop buying new ones. Thank heaven for him the e-reader came along. Whew! Dilemma solved.

I’m viewing my novel like those beastly shelves. You want new words? You want your MC to ever get to find out the meaning of her life, make the tough choices, and get the guy? Then sacrifice her ten paragraph rant about how rough her life is in chapter 2. (I kid. If there is such a rant, may I be barred from my keyboard. Although if it does exist, that might make cutting 20,000 words a little les torturous!)

Nikki, seriously, you’re not going to take the axe to my story for me? Caryn? Anyone?

I tremble in fear of today’s writing session, but I thought stating the truth here might help keep me honest about the tough love this novel needs.


bottom of page