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Author Topic: How do you estimate your progress when revising a novel?  (Read 3272 times)

Offline Skip

Re: How do you estimate your progress when revising a novel?
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2018, 05:22:47 AM »
In reply, though not in argument, to tebakutis, there are those who can produce and that rate and do it well. The one I often cite is Georges Simenon, who wrote over two hundred books in his life, turning out a book in six weeks. Then he'd take a break for a few months, then bang out another. Isaac Asimov is another famous workhorse.

I mention this only to note that it *can* be done and with quality. As for me, I'm still learning to hack my way through the jungle without worrying about where there might be a faster route.
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Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: Not Long?
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2018, 11:28:36 AM »

On my end, I'm able to keep a decent pace because my fantasy novels aren't terribly long. My World in Chains series is the longest with lengths of 160k, 140k, 120k, and 170k for each of the books. My Sunweaver series, on the other hand has all the books coming in around 105k. My most recent series that I'm still in the process of writing has gone at about 110k and then 95k.


170,000 words isn't long? I think 95,000 is quite long for a novel!

As far as epic fantasy goes, the books can get much, much longer than 170,000 words. A Game of Thrones is the shortest in the series, and it comes in at about 300k. Nearly every book in The Wheel of Time is over 300k, with some approaching 400k. The same goes for the Malazan series. Every book so far in Sanderson's Stormlight Archive is over 400k. Even his shorter books, like the Mistborn trilogy, are still well over 200k a piece.

I don't think I could ever manage a 300k or longer book. In fact, I feel more comfortable writing in the 100k range, which is actually on the short side for epic fantasy. Long for many other genres, but not so much for epic fantasy.

I think it depends--
* Epic fantasy runs longer than other genres
* Debut novels from unknown authors are typically short. JK Rowling's first novel was short until she earned the opportunity to write longer ones, similarly Jordan and GRRM had published other things before their famous serieses.

@NedMarcus If you want to self-publish, I don't think it matters too much, but if you want to trad publish and it's your first time, I think epic fantasy is generally expected to be 100-150k, varying from publisher to publisher, with the sweet spot around the 120 range. Open submission guidelines will give you a bit of a hint about all that. There are exceptions (I think Islington recently got a 200k debut), but they're rare.  If you've written 200k and an editor says "This is great! Now cut out 1/4 of the book" (which is a much more likely scenario) it would be beyond awful. So anyway, if your plan is to sub to traditional markets (or sub to traditional markets and then self pub as a plan B if it doesn't work out) a shorter novel is an easier place to be.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 11:30:30 AM by Bradley Darewood »

Offline Ray McCarthy

Re: How do you estimate your progress when revising a novel?
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2018, 12:32:58 PM »
Word count is nearly irrelevant. Even if I have a full plan, synopses, plot etc, it's hard to tell if it's a novella, novel, epic or trilogy.
Progress is when you have read it near a dozen times, it's still engaging, nothing jarring out of suspension of disbelieve, no typos / grammar errors / obvious plot holes.

That's the 2nd major milestone. The completed 1st draft was 1st.

Then I pass to beta reader (getting them to read more than once hard, twice difficult). BUT ... if they explain why a paragraph ought to be a chapter, or a huge section needs ditched and it sounds right (sometimes they are wrong), then fix that. Proof read /edit.
3rd milestone.
Then after a break (maybe month or two), re-read it fresh. Make changes and persuade Beta reader to read it second time. Do re-proof first.
Then you are at 4th Milestone.
Ideally you should have a separate experience editor involved maybe from 2nd milestone.

Word count or number of chapters isn't relevant at all. Some people have short chapters, others break up long chapters with ~ § or * * * depending on passage of time or scene change. Some have no chapters at all (Most Terry Pratchett).
 
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Offline Ned Marcus

Re: Not Long?
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2018, 02:39:14 PM »
@NedMarcus If you want to self-publish, I don't think it matters too much, but if you want to trad publish and it's your first time, I think epic fantasy is generally expected to be 100-150k, varying from publisher to publisher, with the sweet spot around the 120 range. Open submission guidelines will give you a bit of a hint about all that. There are exceptions (I think Islington recently got a 200k debut), but they're rare.  If you've written 200k and an editor says "This is great! Now cut out 1/4 of the book" (which is a much more likely scenario) it would be beyond awful. So anyway, if your plan is to sub to traditional markets (or sub to traditional markets and then self pub as a plan B if it doesn't work out) a shorter novel is an easier place to be.

I'm definitely indie publishing. I was more surprised than anything that anyone would consider 170,000 words not to be long!

Offline Ned Marcus

Re: How do you estimate your progress when revising a novel?
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2018, 02:42:35 PM »
Word count or number of chapters isn't relevant at all. Some people have short chapters, others break up long chapters with ~ § or * * * depending on passage of time or scene change. Some have no chapters at all (Most Terry Pratchett).

I agree that word count isn't relevant for estimating progress (beyond the first draft). So far, the best way I've found is counting pages.

Offline Ray McCarthy

Re: How do you estimate your progress when revising a novel?
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2018, 04:39:31 PM »
I agree that word count isn't relevant for estimating progress (beyond the first draft). So far, the best way I've found is counting pages.
Word count is accurate to measure size.
Counting pages is meaningless? What size font, which font, margins, page size, number of chapter breaks, size of chapter heading space etc, snappy dialogue is less words per page than narration. Unless you mean something different.
If I've written 24,000 words and then when I look again after last save for the day and find 29,000 words, then I know I've added 5,000. I'd not know about pages. I don't usually even have a footer & page numbering on till final format of paperback or hardback version. The eBooks don't sensibly have numbers of pages (phone, basic touch, tablet, paperwhite, Kobo HD etc all different page size and font size is chosen by user too).
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Offline Ned Marcus

Re: How do you estimate your progress when revising a novel?
« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2018, 01:18:34 AM »
Counting pages is meaningless? What size font, which font, margins, page size, number of chapter breaks, size of chapter heading space etc, snappy dialogue is less words per page than narration. Unless you mean something different.

I think we're talking at cross purposes :) The original question I asked was how people here estimate their progress when revising their novel—then another discussion opened about word count of novels etc, which is fine.

When writing a first draft, setting a goal of writing so many words can help. But for revisions and editing, I find it easier to set a goal of editing/revising a certain number of pages. I have no idea how I'd count words in this situation as I delete and add words as I'm revising. But I was interested in how others approach this.

Offline Ray McCarthy

Re: How do you estimate your progress when revising a novel?
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2018, 07:14:15 PM »
... But for revisions and editing, I find it easier to set a goal of editing/revising a certain number of pages. I have no idea how I'd count words in this situation as I delete and add words as I'm revising. But I was interested in how others approach this.
But I revise usually by
1) Read and annotate on an eInk eReader.
2) Import highlighted source and added notes as a text file and make changes to wp source (save as with new version number first).
I can see with the vertical slider bar approximately how much of the annotations I've processed and where I am in the word processor text.

If it's major revision such as adding content or rewriting, then progress is pretty much impossible to gauge. The last 5% of the book might be 95% of the writing / editing / revision needed.

Actual pages only ever have meaning if you are working with physical paper. I stopped doing that since my 1st kindle eReader. My second was a Kindle DXG. Now I use a Kobo Aura HD H2O, it's a nice size and better for managing import of annotations using Calibre back into laptop.
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