Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Novel Progress - statistics and layout

First of all a HUGE thank you to everyone who left me comments or emailed to say congrats on me finishing my novel. I felt really quite overwhelmed by all the support.

Now my head has cleared a bit (and the hangover has finally gone) it's time for a few stats. These are probably only of interest to me but seeing as I've charted the life of my novel, from initial ideal to last word, it seems like a good idea. Also, when I go on to write novel #2 I'll probably find it interesting to look back and compare my progress against novel #1.



23 Feb 2007: scribbled down ideas for novel

15 March 2007: wrote the first words of the first chapter

8 July 2007: wrote "The END"

Total number of words written: 99,535

Time taken to write novel: 3 months and 3 weeks

Number of actual writing days (I didn't write every day for the 3 months and 3 days): 86

Highest number of words written in one day: 6,141 (on the last day!)

Lowest number of words written in one day (other than zero!): 213

Average number of words written per day (dividing total words by 86 writing days) : 1157

Number of pages in Word document (finished novel laid out with wide margins, 12 point, courier new, double-spaced): 481

God - looking at it broken down like that makes me wonder how the hell I managed to do and hold down a 'real job' too!

Part of the reason why I wrote as though my pants were on fire was because I started a children's novel in 2005, took a break to 'think about it' and never wrote another word. With this novel I wanted to prove to myself that I could write and finish a novel but I was still very superstitious - I was worried that if I took a break of more than one or two days I'd stop writing it so I wrote and wrote and wrote.

The other reason why I wrote this novel at speed is because, although we tell ourselves that we'll do things 'tomorrow', sometimes there is no 'tomorrow'. Sometimes our tomorrows run out. I've always wanted to write a novel but month after month, year after year I made excuses about how 'now' wasn't the right time to do it. I'd write a novel, I told myself, when I felt less stressed or less tired or less busy. This year I decided I had to stop procrastinating and go after my dream. When I started this novel my life was as stressful and as tiring and as complicated as ever but my mindset had changed. This time I was going to write a novel and I was going to bloody well finish it. And I have.


I've spent the last couple of days working on the layout of my novel. I know I said I wasn't going to edit it and I haven't (okay, so I've tweaked a few things but I haven't begun editing in earnest). One thing I needed to do before I put the novel in a drawer was to lay it out properly. Because I wrote the novel using YWriter (free novel-writing software) and often pasted in scenes I'd written in Word or whatever when I exported the whole novel into Word was a bit of a mess. Sometimes there were line breaks after paragraphs, sometimes there weren't. Sometimes there was indentation at the beginning of a paragraph, sometimes there wasn't.

What I needed to do was make the whole thing look as professionally laid out as possible so that when I came to read and edit it I wouldn't be distracted by a sloppy layout.

I searched the net for tips on how to layout a novel and the advice I decided to take was from the BBC Writersroom. To view their pdf on how to layout a novel for submission to an agent/publisher click here . I'm not sure if their advice is a little outdated (if it is please let me know!) but it really helped me.

Now all I need to do is print out all 481 pages *gulp* and hide them away in a safe place before I start editing at the beginning of August.

In the meantime I'm reading this book:

And I'll be going back to this one that I started flicking through a few weeks ago (and hugely recommend):

I've only just started reading the 'Self-editing' book and I've realised that editing is going to be a MASSIVE task. If anyone has any hints or tips or would like to share how they approaching editing their novel please do comment (e.g. did you take it in stages and look at plot and time lines first and then characterisation and then do line edits or did you take a more random approach and edit it as you worked from beginning to end). I could do with all the advice I can get!


A. Writer said...

Great to see the stats Cally! 3 months and 3 weeks, that's good going!

'Sometimes our tomorrows run out.'

That's a phrase that will stick with me. I'm going to stop procastinating and get on with my own writing.

You've done well.

SallyQ said...

Thanks for sharing all that with us, Cally. You're an inspiration to us all, the way you've stuck with this novel and made us all feel a part of it.

I got a shiver when I read'sometimes our tomorrows run out' though. Sending hugs in case they're needed...

CTaylor said...

Thanks both.

Thanks for the hug Sally - luckily it's not needed! I've just realised that, because I was vague in this post, I should point out that I'm not ill nor is anyone close to me. I suffered a shock bereavement last year. I think I'll just leave it at that.

Next time I'll post something more chirpy - I guess I wanted to explain why I appeared to storm through this novel!

SallyQ said...

That's a relief! About you not being ill. I'm sorry about your bereavement.

But you're right, it does make you think about the time we all waste.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Interesting how one positive side-effect of bereavement is that it can help us to reassess our priorities. Editing is indeed difficult - at least I find it so. It's a huge subject, and I'm still in the middle of it and learning as I go. I've recorded much of the process of editing the second draft on my blog; if you go there and click on the 'writing' label (near top of sidebar on right) you'll find all the relevant posts within those listed. I'm on my third draft now, after some very positive and useful feedback on the second draft. I haven't entirely worked out how to address this draft, although I'm most of the way there and currently working on the small amount of new writing that is needed (one chapter and a few scenes). I'll blog more about the editing process when I get to it - I hope to have a good chunk of time to work on it in August.

Anonymous said...

I don't think editors are as strict about 'proper' manuscript format as they used to be - but you can't go wrong with double-spaced Courier and 1" margins. (You could probably even change to Times if you like - which would likely reduce your page count a bit - but personally I like Courier.)

SallyQ said...

I forgot to add the editing question. I started from the beginning and worked my way through, but I did that by picking out buzzwords that I've a tendency to overuse, like 'had' 'but' 'though'. It's amazing what else you notice when you do that for each separate word.

BTW I don't subscribe to the rule 'kill your darlings'. If you're particularly fond of a section, then trust your instincts. As long as it is in keeping with the whole novel and not a digression that has nothing to do with what's gone or what's to come.

Kate.Kingsley said...


This post is so inspiring! I have actually printed it out and tucked the copy into my notebook for the current WIP.
Tracing the genesis of your first draft makes for fascinating reading, and it’s so impressive that you wrote the lot in 86 days.
Your comments about getting out of the “I’ll do it one day when I’m less busy…” ring so true to me ~ however, I’m now determined that I WILL do it, just as you have.
Also, I’ve now downloaded the Ywriter software, so many thanks for the heads up on that.

Thanks again for sharing the genesis of your novel with us ~ I look forward to hearing about the editing process, and I wish you lots of luck with it,

Best wishes
Kate K