The Project: Word count

After an initial bad (or false, depending on how you look at it) my project – in which I’ve decided to try and write my own original story – is moving forward again. I’ve edited the first 4 chapters (all approximately 4000 words in length) and took out the scenes which had been bugging me. In doing so, I did lose a couple of dialogue pieces which I’m sorry about – but I’ve put them in my note book and hope to work them in again at one point or another. My total word count for the story now stands on just over 27,000 words. Considering that I had aimed to write 1000 a week (giving me a total of 52000 for the year) I’m pretty pleased with myself. Now, don’t think that I’m halfway – no. This baby is only getting started.

I use word count as a measure of how my story is flowing and where I am approximately. Couple of months ago, I spoke about using the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. It’s mostly aimed at screen writing, but I’ve modified it for my own uses (after having a lot of success with it in Script Frenzy 2010). It helps me to establish whether I’m slow with my plot or whether I’m bombarding the reader with it too quickly. Also, you need a good framework on which to build your story and I feel that this beat sheet is it. I won’t be able to completely measure this until I’ve completed my story but it’s a good place to start.

While I was debating about word count, I thought to google some popular works and discovered this great web page. It gives the breakdown of a lot of famous works’ word count. Naturally (and to my pleasure), fantasy word count rules. I like to measure (and imagine) my own works against these – so that I can establish how thick a book I’ll write one day. 😉
For interest, I’ve archived over 680,000 words on my FanFiction.Net account. Which means that I’ve written more than Tolkien did on Lord of the Rings. 😛 I’m not saying my work is as impressive as his, but it’s something to think about when I look at the words on my book case. For your amusement, here are some of the well known numbers that I’ve found:

Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien (revised to be in line with the rest)

The Fellowship of the Ring: 187k
The Two Towers: 155k
The Return of the King: 131k

Total: 473k

Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan

The Eye of the World: 305k
The Great Hunt: 267k
The Dragon Reborn: 251k
The Shadow Rising: 393k
The Fires of Heaven: 354k
Lord of Chaos: 389k
A Crown of Swords: 295k
The Path of Daggers: 226k
Winter’s Heart: 238k
Crossroads of Twilight: 271k
Knife of Dreams: 315k

Total: 3M 304k

A Song of Ice And Fire – George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones: 284k
A Clash of kings: 326k
A Storm of Swords: 404k
A Feast for Crows: 300k

Total: 1M 314k

NaStySuMo – The Beat Sheet and more…

In the weeks leading up to Script Frenzy 2010, the administrators showered us with tips and pointers on how to write a good script. They also had a very good Young Writer’s Program in which they offered a lot of advice for the younger creative maniacs of the world. I really liked how they set things out and one of the tools they pointed out was The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet which you can find at the website Save The Cat. The idea of the beat sheet is to provide you a very good guideline as to what the format of your script should look like. The numbers in between the () is the approximate page number at which any given event should occur (working on the principle that one page in your script relates to 1 minute of screenplay).

Now, I’m not writing a script for NaStySuMo, but I liked the principle of its setup. A movie is a form of storytelling and it has become almost the basis of the rhythm that most people like to watch. If you take the time to browse the website, you can see how they broke down most of the good movies into the Beat Sheets format, showing you that even excellent screenwriters adhere to these rules. It’s taught someone like me (who’s a bit of a ‘write without planning, fly ahead even though it’s dark’ kind of writer) that structure and even planning is very important.

As an experiment, I’m going to try and apply my NastySuMo story to the guidelines described in the Beat Sheet. I have already given you my opening image and I have even worked in my theme, :). Now, it’s time to introduce my character so, without further delay, I present to you

The Road of Fame – Part 2.

She called herself Fame, which was a private joke because she wasn’t really famous for anything. She was an average kind of person, of average height, average looks and average income. In school her marks were grade average and now, while she did a few modules at Hereford College in Information Technology, her marks were just enough to see her pass. It was said that she was an underachiever but she didn’t let that trouble her for she had been marked an underachiever for the rest of her life.

She didn’t pay the light green band around her wrist any mind, but other people did.

Fame, with her dark – almost black curly hair and light blue eyes, worked in a game store, one of two in Hereford. It paid the bills and it allowed her the space to do the only thing she was really passionate about.

Playing games.

She could easily sit there all day with her PSP only bothering to help customers if they actually approached her. After she almost lost her job because of it, she learned to pay better attention to the clients, finally bringing the dog into the shop to help her focus. Things went better after that and her job was secure.

She knew a few people but, although they called her friend, she never really saw them as anything but acquaintances. She only did as much socializing as was deemed an acceptable amount by society. For the most part, she played her games and that was enough for her. Some would’ve described her life to be boring up to the point of it being an empty shell, but she was content which she figured was more than most people could say.

Fame appreciated being ordinary, having ordinary day and living an ordinary life. She didn’t think about the future, didn’t plan for tomorrow, but lived life one single moment at a time, considering the worst thing that could happen to her a power failure or a delayed train.

She was sadly, very very wrong.

To Be Continued…