A Novel Break and Hitting the Halfway Point

I hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend. Mine was spent hanging out with family, eating copious amounts of food, and watching people get drunk. It’s hilarious until it’s awkward.

I’m finally getting back into my novel WIP and it’s starting to fly. I’ve hit the middle–or what I wanted to be the middle–at 40k. I had to reread everything I wrote so far to get back in writing mode and to reacquaint myself with the style and tone. There are many, many rough spots, so I jotted down some notes for future reference. Revision Me will be displeased, but Draft Me is happy because under all the flaws and incoherent thoughts and poor transitions, there’s a real bonafide story in there.

Though I did stop working on the WIP at about the halfway point six months ago, it’s sort of energizing now because it’s all downhill from here. The draft is halfway done already. And the upcoming chapters are some of the most exciting. In fact, the scene I’m working on right now is a major part of the inspiration for this novel. I know every day won’t be as great as this in terms of enthusiasm towards new words, but I’m sure going to embrace them when they come.

My only concern is that my novel will be too short. If it keeps up at the current pace, it might only be about 60k, which is a bit too short for sci-fi. But who knows, maybe another subplot will present itself. I know of a few spots in the beginning of the novel that need bulking up, so maybe I’m worried about nothing.

What I’m curious about is how you all work with word counts? I know each genre has specific requirements. Is it instinctive finding the right length for your story or do you have to perform much fiddling to get it expanded or whittled down to just the right word count?

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2 thoughts on “A Novel Break and Hitting the Halfway Point

  1. The word count is a tough one, I find. My first manuscript was a novella of just 40,000 and was commended in a reputable writing competition. It is a pity that publishers seem to desire a particular length in a manuscript because I have often read books with a minimal word count that have been huge in impact. Likewise, some very fat books are difficult to read because they are just padded out. My last book was around 90,000 and I expect the latest one will work out just a little bit more. What I find helps me is to settle on a rough word count guide for each chapter (say around 2,500 to 4,000 words). That way, I get a bit of an idea of where I am going and where I might end up.
    By the same token, it is best not to get bogged down so in my outline, I’ll put something like:- “Chapter 4: introduces Bill and hints at his connection with Jane. 1500 words. Needs to be fleshed out.” Then, as I go along, I might think of something else and I’ll pop it in the outline in red, e.g., “in chapter seven, such and such happens, so maybe I could describe Bill’s country house a bit more here and the tracks surrounding it”.
    Congratulations on your WIP. Sounds like you are working pretty solidly.

  2. Congratulations on hitting the halfway mark! I’m creeping up to it at the moment too – also 40k. It’s a good feeling.

    As for final word counts, I try not to worry too much about it on the first draft. I think it’s better to focus on letting the story come out at the pace that feels right for it; and then if you feel you need to, you can always work on adding extra substance and length to it when you come to rewrites. Best of luck!

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