Mechanics of Writing – Part 3, “Set the Word Count”

In Mechanics of Writing Part 3, I want to talk about setting the word count. Do you know how long you want your novel to be? What will your word count look like? You need to have an idea before you begin fleshing out each of your chapters you have created in your ‘Outline’. If you have mapped out 40 chapters and you want your novel to come in at approximately 40,000 words then try and keep your chapters at 1000 words each. I find this the most helpful. It also allows for more consistent flow from chapter to chapter rather than forcing the reader to go from a page and half chapter to a 8 page chapter. It also keeps you on a pattern and also forces you to include more detail, characterization or scene description to fill out your story. Have fun with this and if you come to a roadblock in reaching your target word count for a chapter, leave it and come back to it. Often when you come back to a incomplete chapter ideas will automatically flow again to finish off that chapter. I also find that by using the mindset that each chapter in your outline is like its own little mini story it will keep you focused better on just writing that specific chapter. Sometimes I find myself when I am writing a chapter thinking to much on how the chapter may fit overall in the story rather than just letting the words flow. In other words, don’t over think things. Start the new chapter from your outline and write and don’t worry so much on how its going to flow with the other chapters so much. You can fix that or smooth it out when you write a 2nd draft or during the edit stage.


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