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Saturday, February 23, 2008

40,000 words to go....

After a week of in-laws, cleaning garages, and general insanity I'm left with a very weak first draft that is in need of thirteen more chapters (according to the outline) and almost 40,000 words to reach a marketable size.

I know I'm going to cut some of the words, the whole second chapter is being revised when I start editing, but I also know I'm going to add details and do more world-building in the second draft so I'm aiming for the low end of marketable sci-fi novels, 75000 words on the first draft. And I want it done by March 1st.

Taking Sunday off that leaves me with six writing days to reach somewhere near my goal. If I finish the book and have less than 75k, like I did with NaNo in November, I won't be heartbroken. Rough drafts are just that, rough sketches of the final product. If the rough sketch is short of perfect length it isn't a problem. A problem is having a rough draft that runs over 180,000 words. Don't laugh, the first novel I ever wrote ran that long.

I didn't realize most published novels have between 250 and 335 words per page (yes, I counted) and I wrote for a page length of 500... that means I have to cut almost 80000 words to get the manuscript to a size that won't scare agents or editors.

So my goal is to write around six thousand words a day. It's not bad if I break it into chunks and actually write when I sit at the computer rather than surfing the internet or chatting on blogs and writing forums, which is my guilty vice. I'm opinionated, I don't know an author who isn't, and I like testing the waters to see what everyone else thinks.

I'm beginning to get a solid feel for the attitude difference between a professional author who gets published to earn royalties and the people who write but never make it past the early draft stage. I see a lot of whining about query letters. I've helped friends work out several using the advice posted by Miss Snark, Pubrants (Kristin Nelson), Holly Lisle, and friends who have been published, but I've never written my own. I do know this is the way the industry works though, you have to write a solid query letter.

I prefer to query with sample pages, not all agents request them, and that's led to some debate. Some agents swear they don't need the sample pages, the query is enough.... which is another rant.... Anyways, the people that either quit writing or go for self-publishing are the ones that throw fits over the query letters and rejection letters. The professionals, or the writers that will be professionals in the fullness of time are the ones that are the ones willing to work through the query hoops of fire with gritted teeth.

The other major attitude difference is how people feel about rejection letters. I can't ever be upset by a rejection letter, I've rejected to many agents just by their websites and client list. They aren't right for me. I either hate the books they've published, I don't like the genre they work with, or I know their token style isn't right for my book. I write one way, they like another way. I'll probably be upset over getting rejections, but I also know I don't want to work with agents who don't love what I write. Rejection is a weeding process, the end goal isn't publication but to find an agent I can work with on multiple projects. People who don't understand that don't survive the query stage.

The last major difference I've seen between professional writers who have or will be published and the hobbiests who won't ever see their name on anything but a POD print is the dedication. When I run into someone who spends 6 yeas typing at random and only has one book, only one idea, I cringe. Every author I know who is published, every writer of any kind, has more than one idea, and usually more than one project in the works. The one exception might be my friend in England who writes plays, she only writes one at a time but she can write and perfect a play in under thirty days, query one place, and be published in three months. She's worked hard to get to that point but she's there. Everyone else is busy writing mutliple novels.

That means that when they go to query they are not pinning all their hopes on one novel, their only novel. The writers who have only one story and only plan on writing one book ever are stacking the odds against them, and they're setting themselves up for pain. Now, it doesn't mean they won't be published and that their one book won't be on top of the bestseller list for a thousand years, but it does mean that if they didn't get it write their in for a world of disappointment.

Anyways.... I'm rambling on the blog rather than writing. A very bad habit. My bribe for getting 20k done by mid-week will be to come here and write out my theory on query letters. I don't quite have the full professional attitude of nonchalance about query letters yet, but I'm working on it....

Off to write!

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