The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
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sarahdee
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by sarahdee » November 30th, 2010, 3:03 am

I just wonder if all my years in corporate law and tax counts: emails, contracts, articles of association, memos, reports - a good half of it would have come under the fiction umbrella :)

Down the well
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Down the well » November 30th, 2010, 9:46 am

polymath wrote:So what else is it It I've asked and attempted to answer. The closest I've come so far is recognizing several impermeable veils separating purpose and outcome. No matter how well-crafted or how exhaustively marketed a novel is, nothing matters but being buzz worthy.
This cynic thinks you might be on to something there, polymath.

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sierramcconnell
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by sierramcconnell » November 30th, 2010, 2:57 pm

This reminds me. When I was a child and had school papers to do, I had to write them long hand because -gasp- this was before the age of computers. If I made any mistake, ANY MISTAKE AT ALL, my mother -who was lording over me- would yank the paper away, scream at me about how stupid I was to have done such a thing ("infomation? what the hell is wrong with you?!") and make me start all over again.

Even if the rest of the page was fine. Because it had to be correct. Had to be perfect. And the penmanship had to be beautiful as well.

And no pencil. Dear God, never pencil.

So if I had to go through that ordeal, sitting there, writing and rewriting, and rewriting again, how many words do I get to count?

(This is why I don't mind the beta\editing\rejection process so long as you avoid the words 'what the hell were you thinking'. Use those and I just fold up or turn on you.)
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by bcomet » November 30th, 2010, 4:48 pm

For every hour I write, I have two times the back-up of research, craft honing, thinking, publishing reading...

Make that three times.

Wow, I'm already exhausted.

I've written approximately 414,000 words of fiction
approximately, 50,000 words non-fiction
approximately a gazillion journals that surely don't count
and approximately 500,000 words beyond all that since I started writing full time four years ago.

I am no where near the feeling of accomplishment. Just nearer.
Some things I love.
Some things I love and hate.
Sometimes rejection is insurmountable.

And other times, wow, I got two dollars for each of those poems.
(I didn't include poems in the above word counts. How could I? They are so abstract.)

There is no formula. Alas.
There is only art.
And craft, craft, craft.

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by dios4vida » November 30th, 2010, 7:51 pm

Wow, I feel like a noob. I'm figuring that my total is between 210,000 - 225,000 words, 200,000 of which are "finished" novels (aka the plot arcs are complete but they are nowhere near publication quality). I thought I was doing well...guess I have a loooooooong way to go still.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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polymath
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by polymath » December 2nd, 2010, 10:18 pm

Apparently, R.V. Cassill is the writer who first said, in Writing Fiction, 1975, "A writer's apprenticeship isn't over until his first million words have been written." Bill Roorbach, Writing Life Stories, 1998.
Spread the love of written word.

Claudie
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Claudie » December 3rd, 2010, 12:30 am

Well, when you look at the raw amount of words I've written in the past three years, it'll hang around something like 630,000 words. Out of these, perhaps 500,000 were written during NaNoWriMo, however. I think we can agree that while NaNo can teach you a lot about character developments, plot archs, and where your story is going, it won't teach you anything about crafting a great sentence.

Which leaves me with perhaps 130,000 words that were at least edited, and more carefully considered.

I do feel as though I am at the point of my learning curve where I have a good hand on creating believable stories and character, and where I can develop a general plot that will be interesting. Now is the time to get more serious about editing those novels, tightening up the ideas, and learning how to bring them to life on the page.

While the million word march might not work for everyone, I do think my numbers reflect where I'm at. :)
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

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Cookie
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Cookie » December 3rd, 2010, 6:49 am

So far, between my two finished books and numerous WIPs, I have total 379,802 words. That is not including the 50,000 to 60,000 thousand words that haven't made it onto my computer yet.
I still have my first story that I wrote laying around. It is horrific literally and figuratively. It was a short horror story that I wrote for my brother and cousin. It may not ever see the light of day. Again.
I'm getting there! Slowly.

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BetweenTwoWorlds
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by BetweenTwoWorlds » December 3rd, 2010, 11:57 am

I am really hoping I can shape this latest into something saleable.

Pros:
YA novel written from boy's perspective & for boys (YA)
probably about 60-65k words when finished.

Cons:
right now it's teetering at 75k words
it includes some mature themes
it's pretty honest about what boys think about as they turn from boy to man. How do I elide that?

I have 4 other novels that I've started in the past 5 years & 1 that I finished but will likely never make it out of the second draft stage. It had an interesting premise & was a "techno thriller" along with bringing in a half-white/half-asian female protagonist/hero. But ultimately I couldn't make her come alive, and her sidekick kept wanting to take over the story. Maybe I'll rewrite it from his point of view.
----------------------
WIP1-4: Dead, and buried, and lost in time
WIP5: Finished, but hidden in a drawer
WIP6: 72k YA/MG. Working on 3nd edit.

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Fenris » December 3rd, 2010, 12:18 pm

BetweenTwoWorlds: Don't worry, MSs are always a little long before you trim them (or at least, most of the time. Hopefully). The mature themes might be a bit much (depending what they are), considering it's angled at YA, but as for the next bit:
BetweenTwoWorlds wrote:it's pretty honest about what boys think about as they turn from boy to man.
Sugarcoating isn't always a good thing. It's no good pretending everyone is perfect all the time, even our characters (actually, they need to be flawed to be believable). Especially if it's targeted at young males anyway--they'll know what you're talking about. Now on the odd chance a girl might come along and read it...well, depending on where you go with the above you might get into trouble.
Hi, my name's Fenris. I'm a thousand-year-old monster who's broken free to destroy the world. Your kids will love me!

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polymath
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by polymath » December 3rd, 2010, 12:49 pm

BetweenTwoWorlds wrote:it's pretty honest about what boys think about as they turn from boy to man. How do I elide that?
Elide? meaning to suppress or alter. Seems to me the onset of puberty is ripe with empathy-worthy complications. I see potent potentials for dramatic irony, conspiratorial exclusivity of locker room type banter and the trials thereof exquisitely revealed for those not in the know, how a boy becomes a man contending with a motivation to remain eternally a child. A conflict therein from a Peter Pan syndrome akin to Don McLean's "American Pie" and Pinocchio's desire to be human, albeit a boy. Complication causing transformation is a simplistic template of a plot's movement. Boy transforming to man, a right of passage, seems to me a ripe theme for young adult literature.

I'd reconsider whether eliding what boys think might gut the narrative. At least I'd want to read about that but wouldn't as a young young adult want anyone to know I read it, especially mommy and daddy. But it would buzz anyway because moral authorities would disapprove and conscientious authorities would approve and niche readers would secretly buy the novel, secretly read it, sneak the novel to close friends, who would pass it on and on.
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Fenris
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Fenris » December 3rd, 2010, 1:14 pm

polymath wrote:Elide? meaning to suppress or alter.
Ah, my bad. Thought it was a typo, meant to be 'elude.' My vocabulary expands every day!
Hi, my name's Fenris. I'm a thousand-year-old monster who's broken free to destroy the world. Your kids will love me!

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Margo » December 3rd, 2010, 1:23 pm

Fenris wrote:Don't worry, MSs are always a little long before you trim them (or at least, most of the time. Hopefully).
Yes, I have read (and experienced) that that's the more common first draft outcome, though quite a few writers on the forum have mentioned they write short and fill it out in revision.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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BetweenTwoWorlds
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by BetweenTwoWorlds » December 3rd, 2010, 2:08 pm

Well, thank you for the advice. It makes me feel a little better that perhaps my novel won't be horribly scandalous. It's no Hardy Boys mystery, let me tell you.

I speak as an expert about YA in the sense of I was once a boy myself, and have a lot of things I remember from the hazy past.

And I'm trying to write a book that I would have wanted to read - not a fairy tell or a story I should have read, but a story about me as a boy-to-man, something that talked about what I wanted to know but no one else would talk about. About the first rush of love or lust, about seeing yourself as a person coming alive, about what you do when you feel something is right but no one around you thinks anything of it. About what you do when the answers you've heard your whole life work if you're an adult & everything's settled, but you start to wonder how do you know it's right?

Like I've said, I've written 5 other novels, most stillborn. The last one took me over 9 months just to write the first draft. This one, at 75,000 words, took me 20 days. And it has, I think, a good story arc. And believable characters and situations.

But still, there are Those Issues that good parents don't want their kids to talk about.
----------------------
WIP1-4: Dead, and buried, and lost in time
WIP5: Finished, but hidden in a drawer
WIP6: 72k YA/MG. Working on 3nd edit.

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alienbogey
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by alienbogey » December 3rd, 2010, 9:44 pm

I think 100,000 words (or 10,000) may be enough for a few superlatively gifted geniuses, 1,000,000 for those of lesser but still considerable talent, and the alleged requirement would range all the way to eleventy-gajillion for most folks. Of course, it's a lot easier to churn out the 1,000,000 on a modern laptop than an Underwood with a worn out ribbon which was a lot easier than a fountain pen which was a lot easier than a goose feather dipped in ink which was a lot easier than chiseling icons into rock.

Perhaps it's another expression of inflation, and Shakespeare only needed 5,000 painstakingly scribed words before he sat down to write Henry VI Part One, while 1,000,000 is the current standard with a modern word processor, and 10,000,000 will be the guideline once text to speech is the norm and 10,000,000,000 will be the minimum once all you have to do is think it out.

I mean, if you think about it, if an infinity of monkeys require an infinity of time on an infinity of typewriters before one reproduces the complete works of Shakespeare, perhaps it takes only an infinity of monkeys minus one to do it on a MacBook Air.

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