March 2015 – How Much Should I Write?

How long should a scene be?

How long should my novel be?

How many words should I write a day?

How many drafts should I write?

How many scenes should I have?

Who the fuck knows?

From my incessant Googling, I came to the conclusion that scenes should be between 750 and 1,000 words long. That’s the guideline I’m sticking to now and it feels right. Shorter scenes when the action is heavier; longer scenes when you’re painting a picture or dealing with a lot of exposition. I think they key is that they should flow into one another. If a scene is 300 words and it works, leave it. If a scene is 3,000 words and it works, leave it.

Of course, I am probably completely wrong.

I fucked up hugely when I started writing the novel: I didn’t set myself a daily target. What a fool. I wrote when the mood took.

Stupid.

So I imagined myself as a journalist on a deadline. I had to write 1,000 words a day, minimum. When starting the writing, I felt very uncomfortable. It’s unnatural, sometimes, to throw yourself into an imaginary world by force, especially when the distractions of the modern world are demanding your attention.

I’ll start the my writing once I’ve checked my Facebook.

Oh look, a picture of a cat.

Cat

FUCK OFF

Discipline, please!

But if you can break through the wall and hit that target, it comes easier the next time. Like sex, I guess.

And then once you’ve finished your word count, give yourself a little pat on the back. Have a coffee, maybe…or a vodka, if that’s your thing. Whatever works.

Soon you’ll hit 10k. Then 20k. The Scrivener Project Targets bar will shift from the red shading of failure to a pleasing, successful green in no time.

Why are you reading this? Go and hit your target.

12 comments

    1. Exactly! Some of Stephen King’s works are great examples of brilliant short stories or novellas. The Mist is another good example of his, as are the four novellas that make up Full Dark, No Stars.

      It’s not my cat, I’m afraid, but thanks! I have owned several cats during my life (or perhaps they owned me), but none have been as photogenic as that little chap.

      Like

  1. PS I’m getting Scrivener. I just wrote the first rough draft of the beginning, most of the middle, and the end, of my first half-way crappy short story. But it came to me when I had a pen and paper in hand and I didn’t want to stop writing. So now I have to flip the pages back and forth, so I get lost re where I am, not enough room where I want to add a paragraph, etcetera. I hope I can buy and download it off the ‘net – I only have a tablet, with no CD drive.

    I have 14 journals and a 1 ft x 1 ft box of ideas, sketches, poems on napkins, backs of light bills, envelops, etc…20 years of writing that I need to find one idea I had that fits in my story. Do you think its better to just leave all that writing forever (apart from wanting that phrase or sentence for my current story), or to slough through it? It’s all old stuff I haven’t touched in a very long time.

    Thanks Jack, if you have time.

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    1. Well, it depends on whether you’d like to work on? Are you a better writer now? Maybe pick through it, find your best ideas and rewrite them with your new skills and confidence. That’s what I’d do…but then I am frequently wrong about many things!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m learning a lot from you…I’ve never thought of words per scene or day deadlines. I only knew my soon-to-be-still-a-draft novel will have 18 chapters. I haven’t got yet to the point where I know with what to fill those chapter or how many words will contain, but I’ll get there. I’ll be following your words deadline thing, master! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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