The Halfway Point

It’s been a while since I wrote a post about…writing.

The truth is, writers are never not writing, ya know?  Even when I’m not telling you I’m writing – I am.

Lately I’ve been working on a new project, and I’ve hit the halfway mark.  My manuscripts are generally 95K – 100K, but I don’t consider myself halfway until I get at least 55K.  This is because I like to overwrite so that when the old adage of “kill your darlings,” must come into play, it’s not as difficult to eliminate words.

I’ve heard of some writers who will call their first draft done at 85K.  This is before editing, when they know they will still add more words, while also needing to remove some.  Doing it that way is hard for me.  All I can think is, I’ve got to have at least *90K, and generally no more than 100K (there’s some flexibility here), and I’d rather have more than less to work with.  I feel like it gives me more wiggle room, and I also find I rarely ever delete (kill) words below that 90K minimum.

Anyway, so I’ve been working heavy on this and doing my usual of 1000 wpd, and some days it’s more.  I did about 4,500 total words last weekend.  That felt GREAT!

And…it’s getting there.  I’m going by my outline, and I have to say, I was shocked when I noticed yesterday I’m already halfway through this story at least by the word count, but only through the first two pages of a five page outline.  Whoa.  What does this mean?  It means I have a lot of material to cover in the latter half of the book – while trying to make it not seemed rushed.

This story’s working title is THE FORGIVING KIND.  It takes place in eastern NC, on a cotton farm in 1955, and features a 12 year old girl, called “Sonny” who is the narrator.  While THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET isn’t as hard hitting as THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, with this new story, I feel like I’m somewhere in the middle.  By that I mean it’s not as hard hitting as DIXIE, but it’s not like BITTERSWEET either.

It seems to be sort of writing itself too, which is also why I’m only two pages into that outline – I keep adding scenes.  It’s good I’m not struggling (at least not every day) to get the words down.  I love it when that happens, even when I can’t tell if the thing is any good or not.  There is something special, a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment as I watch the word count creep higher, even if it’s in that terrible (horrible) first draft stage.

And, with that, now I need to get back to it!

What are you working on, and how is it coming along? 

 

 

*typical word count for commercial fiction

 


COMMENTS

  • lilacshoshanwp

    April 14, 2017

    Reply

    Hi Donna! 🙂 I dreamt about you a couple nights ago. You seemed very busy writing. Haha…I agree with your logic about preferring to have more to work with/pare down in the editing stage.
    And what a wonderful title the new story has. I LOVE it and can’t wait to read it. <3 <3 <3

  • Donna Everhart

    April 15, 2017

    Reply

    Hey Lilac! You did??? Your dream was not only fortuitous, it seemed to predict what my post would be about! 🙂 I have been busy writing…I’ve been getting up at 5 or so every morning for a while now – and this is when I try to do most of it. (or like now, chit chat with you – ha! But. I’m about to get into it, soon as I have enough coffee) I think the most I’ve written, in the sense of overwriting so it’s easier to delete, is about 110K, and I deleted it down to about 92K, but then added in something like…6K. I can’t remember, but you get the idea! I’m glad you love the title! It sets well with me too… <3 <3 <3

    • lilacshoshanwp

      April 15, 2017

      Reply

      I did, Donna LOL. I almost sent you an email about my dream, but I didn’t want to interfere with your writing. 😉 As for waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning to write, I absolutely admire that. The happiest days of my life are the days in which I make progress in my writing projects and interact with the people I love. You included. <3 <3 <3

      • Donna Everhart

        April 16, 2017

        Reply

        Please do send me an email if you see me getting the Pulitzer. (LOL!!!) Getting up at five has become such a habit although I’ve always been an early riser. Today however – I slept in till 6:00. 🙂 Like you, those are the happiest days for me too. I actually get a little grumpy if I don’t make my word count and FEEL GUILTY. I’m getting ready to get started, but first, I’m about to hop over to your site to read your post! <3 <3 <3

  • Beulah Pope

    April 16, 2017

    Reply

    Hang in there Donna,every day is new & so are your thoughts.Got my eye on the yard, it’s coming along.
    btp

    • Donna Everhart

      April 16, 2017

      Reply

      Thank you, Beulah, those are encouraging words. That new part of the lawn has greened up nicely – so nice it’s putting the rest of it to shame!

  • Anonymous

    April 18, 2017

    Reply

    It is good to have you back, at least for a moment.

    That photo is almost enough to take me back. When I was in high school the cotton and tobacco folk would bring buses down here and take kids up to work for the summer. I did two summers of picking tobacco. It was awful but forced you to grow up fast. Too bad child labor laws disallow doing that anymore.

    Interesting, how you write. Of course you could be considered a professional now. For me it is still a hobby. I don’t have any great plan for being half done. It changes. Sometimes it has worked, in similar fashion, to how you do it. The sci-fi thing I’m working on now began to look like it would look better as two books. So now I am writing two books because the train of thought on the second half was still rolling along. I also have to flesh out the first half or first book. You can only call yourself a writer if you can finish projects.

    Still I am glad you did this piece. Thank you

  • Craig

    April 18, 2017

    Reply

    I keep forgetting that your blog wants you logged in first. Sorry it came up as anonymous.

    • Donna Everhart

      April 18, 2017

      Reply

      Hey “Someone”, I mean Craig! (it posted your first comment as “Someone,” which I thought was funny.)

      You’re either up as early as me, or you were up late (i.e. date stamp is today/18th!)

      I’ve never worked tobacco or cotton…I remember when I was around eight being at my cousin’s house and a little girl who lived across the street worked tobacco – she was my age. I thought she was so dirty. The soles of her feet were black as tar, and so were her hands. I think I learned later that tobacco has a gummy sort of residue it leaves behind when you’re suckering it – very sticky and hard to get off. Is that right? That’s an interesting note though about the buses though…now I’m trying to figure out if I can use it somehow in my book. So, thank YOU for that!

      So, you’re back to writing sci-fi. I think I recall your last project was a high octane thriller. Everyone has their own methods of what they do with regard to the physical act of writing, “professional” or not. That’s what’s good about it, there is no right way. Whatever works for that writer is all that matters.

  • Craig

    April 19, 2017

    Reply

    Hmm, 1954. Ten years after WW2. Two years before the interstate was started. The boys came home from the war and found out they could no long live the long, slow days on the farm. They headed to California and left the little ones with the harvest. Big idea is to bring workers down from Richmond. Drive em down in school buses. It becomes a party and an orgy for those away from home for the first time. Ruins the peace and solitude that low country Carolina was at that time.

    Better yet have a cousin come visit to get over nicotine poisoning. Those suckering the leaves off of tobacco plants were exposed to 50 cigarettes worth of it per day. It is what made the sap so resinous and sticky. It is also an alkaloid resin so it ate into the skin and at times fed nicotine straight into the bloodstream

    Enough for now. If you need anything do not hesitate to e-mail me.

    • Donna Everhart

      April 19, 2017

      Reply

      Thanks, Craig! My story deals with cotton farming, so no worries about nicotine poisoning, BUT, the bus thing could still work.

  • Diane Major

    April 20, 2017

    Reply

    The way I write, it would be impossible to quantify how far along I am. I don’t go sequentially, and I also tend to take my research and drop it in at the point where it needs to be brought into the novel – so my “word count” includes a very great deal of blue text which is NOT my writing. I even have images and at least one architectural rendering of a palace in there. And, as intricate as my work is – heftier than 100k – I don’t outline. I timeline, but that is a bare bone indeed.

    I can’t even go by the amount of time I’ve been working, because even saying “my first novel took ten years” is imprecise – AND I discovered this subject while I was researching that work (and those blue text-drops began back then, where the research touched on this history), so this novel could almost be said to take THAT entire time period as well as the couple or three years since.

    I’m not even sure I consider the first novel to be complete, so maybe they’ve both been in tandem for a dozen or more years. Good Lord. I am a complete waste of the term “author”!

    • Donna Everhart

      April 21, 2017

      Reply

      That’s fascinating Diane. What a great way to remember certain facts, and you’ve jogged my memory. I recall dropping in a section or two of text similar to what you did when I was working on BITTERSWEET. It had to do with the flooding of the Tuckasegee River AND…I had a map I studied so I could visualize how they might have traveled, and what they might have seen. Cullowhee Gap. Cherry Mountain. It’s all in that story, plus more.

      Here’s the funny part – I encountered something by chance. I use Highway 107 ini the story as it was one of the main routes through the mountain area, and my characters needed to leave after the flood. I ran across a blog, or some sort of online story that talked about that time. And lo and behold there was a name AND a phone number. I took a chance and called that person – and if not for them, I wouldn’t have known that the southern side of 107 was clear, but the route that went north was blocked by flood damage. You can’t tell that sort of thing from a modern day map no matter how much studying I did. 🙂

      AND…it’s actually similar for me with regard to DIXIE and time it took to write that. I nitpicked at it for years before I settled in and wrote it in earnest. So. No. You’re not a complete waste of the term author. What’s that saying? There’s a method to the madness.

  • Diane Major

    April 25, 2017

    Reply

    Donna, you are so generous and lovely. Thank you. I have, oddly enough, been writing more conventionally, adding some tension especially in the early going, and looking at the balance between characters. Next I should probably fold in some of that blue text. Always a sense of accomplishment there!


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