Free Writing

Making a mental list: Questions from a new writer

I am now 10 days into Camp NaNoWriMo and I’ve been quite proud of myself for sticking to my writing. I’ve written something every day. Even on the days I didn’t think I could. My current stats stand as thus:

  • Total word count for NaNoWriMo: 18498
  • Total word count for Soul Weaver 26,729 (I had 8,233 already started before WriMo started)
  • My average words per day is 1,849
  • With a target word count of 50,000 words, at my current rate I will finish on April 28th.

I love seeing the stats the website provides. Not to mention the little target image that moves your arrow closer to the center with each updated word count. I’m so close to the 50% mark I can taste it.

I am, however, beginning to pile up a mental stack of questions about my novel.

 

What category is my novel?

I know I’m writing fantasy. It’s my favorite genre. Not just for writing either. Reading (Sword of Truth series anyone?), games (hello fellow D&D, WoW, and Guild Wars players), and role playing (yes, I have dressed up for DragonCon before. Twice. I still have yet to LARP but not because I don’t want to…..). Fantasy is where my heart lies. Thus, that is the genre I am writing.

However, I have no idea if I’m writing a YA novel, or an adult fiction novel. How do I know?

I’ve read that your word count is what determines the category of your novel, but I must disagree. How could a 50,000 word count fantasy fiction novel that includes sex, rape, drugs, murder, etc be considered a YA novel?

My goal is to have at least 65k-85k words. I’ll likely end up having more, considering I’m almost at the halfway point of 50k already and I’m not quite halfway through with the novel itself. I don’t plan on having much of the afore mentioned scenes in my book, but there will be reference to it. If my novel winds up being 60,000 or so words, would it be considered YA? I wouldn’t consider it a bad thing if my novel was classified as YA, but how do I really know? It can’t possibly be all about the word count.

I have a feeling that based off of the MC in my novel, and the way she handles situations in the beginning, that Soul Weaver will be categorized as a YA novel. I think I’m okay with that, but that just means I’ll have to keep in mind that I can’t get too graphic when it comes to the mature content. (Maybe I’ll save that for a romance novel later on down the line.)

 

How long should my chapters be?

My other question is chapter division. When I first started writing, I had a word count goal of 5,000 words per chapter. I’m not sure where I pulled that number from, but that was my goal. For the first 3 chapters I stuck to it. Until I hit the 4th chapter and it wound up barely hitting 1,500 words. I didn’t feel as though I should add more to it just for the sake of word count, so I left it as is.

When I started looking into what the average chapter length is and I found this blog that said

New writers tend to assume that a chapter must be a certain set length in order to maintain the average novel length of around 80,000 – 95,000 words, but in truth, chapters can be as long or as short as you need them to be.  There is no formula.  You don’t have to pick a number like 80,000 and then divide it by 30 chapters to give you 2500 words a chapter (average).

The only thing you need to apply where chapter lengths and novel lengths are concerned, is common sense.

Taking that into account, I went through my novel and found places where I could break up the current chapters I had into nearly 3 separate chapters. Had I kept with my 5k word count goal per chapter I would only wind up with around 10-12 chapters for the entire book. It just didn’t sit right with me. So now, at over 25,000 words I have 20 complete chapters with an average word count of around 1,300. Which when finished, would produce around 50-60 chapters. That seemed a little better. Plus I thought that with shorter chapters, it would make it easier for someone to read a quick chapter before going to bed, on their lunch break, or whatnot. Much like the Sorcerer’s Ring series by Morgan Rice.

 

Self publishing vs traditional publishing?

The last question I’ve been asking myself is “What do I want to do with this novel when I’m done with it?”

Do I want to try to get it published? Or go the route of self publishing?

I don’t have any misconceptions about my writing. It’s not like I think it’s phenomenal, incredibly unique, or that it will wind up being the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games. Anyone who has read my old writing can see that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to writing (although I’d like to think that what I’m writing now blows away anything I wrote almost 10 years ago). Plus, I’ve read somewhere on the interwebs that your first novel is almost always going to suck, but you wind up learning from it and have more success with your subsequent novels.

I know I’m nowhere near finishing this book. I have a lot more to write and even more to edit. I have the beta reader phase (which I hadn’t even heard of until recently. I still need to read more on how that works.) There’s more editing and then what? That’s when I either start submitting to publishers or start making my book available on Amazon.com or wherever I plan to market it myself.

 

I know I will continue to add to my list of questions the further along I go. These are just the questions that have been floating around in my mind for the past week. I have a lot more work to do, and a lot more to think about. The nice thing is knowing that I’m not alone. There are tons of other writers out there like me who have the same questions.

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