Writing is a very strange business sometimes. Actually, writing is a very strange business all of the time, but I have something specific in mind at the moment.
When I try plotting something, or even just figuring it out in my head, I usually have a decent idea of the wordage something will take, at least at the scene level. I can think about what’s supposed to happen in a scene and guess roughly how long it will take. The first draft will usually wind up somewhere in the ball park. If I estimate a scene at 2500 words, it will almost certainly break 2000 and probably won’t reach 3000. There are certainly times I’m wrong, where I run out of things to say before I get near the estimate, or go on a little long on a subject or action, but I’m usually pretty close. A couple of hundred words either way is normal, and in novels I like most of my scenes in the 2-3k range, with some variety for pacing, so I build things that way.
Except in my current novel project, I’ve had a couple of chapters run away from me and have to do a lot of typing to catch up.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it plays hell with my projections.
You see, I have the novel plotted out at the scene level, and my estimates total 95,000 words. A nice length, and the estimates are only estimates. I usually wind up running 5-7% long, so expect to break 100k, but not by too much.
Right now, if everything else in the book comes in around my target, plus that 5-7%, I’ll scrape up against 106k, which is a little longer than I wanted, but probably not enough to seriously jeapordize my plan. If I keep trending the way I am now, with one chapter in six demanding far more wordage than I’ve anticipated because more things need to happen, I’m looking at 117-120k. This isn’t a bad thing for the story, even if it requires some adjustments in later drafts, but it throws my writing year out of whack and shakes the longer term plan.
Because I planned to draft a 95,000 word novel in three months, and I’m off that pace by several thousand words. 120K is going to take me four months. If the other two books in the trilogy wind up the same way, I’m going to have a tough time getting to the fourth book I’d planned for this year.
Which is okay. The deadlines and goals I’ve set are all artificial and don’t affect anything but me, and the plan is adjustable to whatever degree I want it to be. I just really wanted to see if I could draft four books this year in the 80-95k range. That would have been awesome.
Of course, a 360,000 word trilogy in one year would be pretty awesome, too. Maybe I’m just worrying too much. The plan is just a plan, and I do love to reforecast.
Be well, everyone.by