It's finally here! Today is the day I hope you get started on your journey to finding an agent who has YOUR manuscript on their wish list!
No need to delay! Let's jump right in and get started.
Basics today: Operation PRE-OP
Word count basics!
Many new authors sit down and write a story and just write until they reach the end. They don't even think about word count. I know I didn't the first time I wrote a story (waaaaaaaaay back in the 80's!)
But word count is important. Agents will look at a new author's manuscript and think about how hard it would be to sell a novel to a publisher based on word count. A novel with "not enough words" won't make the wish list. A novel with "too many words" won't make the list, either.
Publishers look at the words and know that a longer novel will cost more money to publish. If a first time author doesn't sell enough books, the expenses won't be covered and the publisher looses money.
I know, I know. There are many books on the shelves today that are as thick as the book case that holds the books. But you got to know, these books were written by well-known published authors. They can get away with it! New authors can't.
Yes, there are exceptions, but as a new writer wanting to be a published author, why try to make it into the exceptions. Be normal and stay safe!
Do you know what standard word count is? No? Well, here's a safe list you can use.
Fantasy and Sci-Fi
80,000 - 90,000
There really is an exception with the young adult fantasy or sci-fi genre. This can be a higher word count.
younger age range of 9-12
upper age range above 12 (tweens)
Generally speaking, these are about 32 pages in length, with one or two lines per page.
Remember, these are standard word counts, but if you stay within these ranges, the agent will have one less reason to stop reading your query before they even get started!
Okay, part two!
If you are writing your novel in 30 days, or close to it, it's time to take a look at the word count and break your novel down into daily word count goals.
For NaNo, they set the goal at 50,000 words, which breaks down to just a little over 1,500 words per day. Take a look at your genre, figure out your word count goal, and divide that by 30. This will give you a daily goal to shoot towards!
Go ahead and do that now, then come back. I'll wait...
Ready? Let's get your one sentence summary written down. What's that? Well, I want you to take one sentence and tell me about your novel. Only one sentence, no big deal. If you have an idea for your story, just write that down. I want to know what's going to happen in your story, that's all!
My character finds a letter written a long time ago, buried in the bottom of an old trunk she finds in the barn, addressed to her, with a date written 100 years ago.
Now, I want you to just start brainstorming ideas. Just write and don't censor yourself. Keep writing until you have exhausted your thoughts. NOTHING is off limits, no matter how insane, funny or cruel.Forget what you know. Forget that it may not match your previous thoughts. Just write. What to write about?
Characters to include
Props you'll want
Plot twist ideas.
Go on, just write!
Blonde hair girl, in her late teens
Old school crush
a long lost mother
antique brush and mirror set
box of love letters
pack of old playing cards
cool case with a gamblers set: cards, dice, chips, pistol
velvet lined ring box
vase of flowers
Okay, see what I did? I just wrote. But you need to write more than this. Write until you can't think of nothing else. Nothing is off limits. You never know. An awesome nugget may be hidden in your thoughts! Write it down, no matter how bizarre it seems to you!
Okay, last thing for now. Start thinking about scenes for you novel. We are going to start with 10 for now. I HIGHLY recommend index cards because they can be re-arranged if needed. I also like to color code for character. Each character gets a special color. That way I know which character the scene will focus on. If you don't have colored index cards, use a marker and and place a dot or line on the top of the card. This helps keep characters together, too.
My MC is in the barn, milking the cow when she finds an old trunk her uncle brought back from a trip to visit his family down south.
Little sister gets deathly sick
MC talks to uncle, demanding to know what happened to her mother.
Okay, do this for ten cards.
Now, it's time to write. If you are writing your novel in 30 days, get busy writing! Take one of the scene you just created and write about the scene. You may not use the scene in your final draft, but then again, you never know!
There's more to come this month. We've got some wonderful classes set up and I hope you enjoy your writing time in the next few months.
Please let me know if you have any questions!