Posted in Word Count, Writing

IWSG—Hopeful for improved wordcounts

In memory of my old friend Fiona, who would’ve turned 37 today. In her memory, I gave the name Fiona to my character Baby Ryan when she and her siblings take legal names, and also used her surname for another family in my contemporary historical family saga about the Troys and Ryans.


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group convenes the first Wednesday of every month, and lets participants share their worries, insecurities, triumphs, hopes, and fears. This month, I finally remembered to include the monthly question!

What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

I’ve been annoyed by so many things while revisiting books I loved when I was younger! I know standards were different in the past, and that I’m not the best one to talk given my rather old-fashioned style, but even I cringe at things like:

A lack of contractions
Infodumpy, “As you know, Bob” dialogue, esp. when it’s used to convey important backstory and/or historical details
Purple prose
Way too many adverbs (like, 5-10 per page), esp. when paired with non-standard speaking verbs (screamed explosively, snapped quizzically, nodded methodically, whispered knowingly)
Lack of front or back matter with stuff like a family tree, list of characters, pronunciation guide (for foreign names and words), and glossary
Overuse of “that”
Introducing way too many characters way too quickly, esp. if they’re not important
First-person where third-person would’ve made the story much stronger

My July wordcount was embarrassingly low by my standards yet again. Due to all the extenuating circumstances I’ve discussed, I had to set my July Camp NaNo goal at only 10K. It took almost the entire month to finally break even. I’m not proud of how low my final total was, but I did have a very strong finish.

Unlike JuNoWriMo, this only counted words from my WIP, not together with blog posts. I also included words from my glossary (mostly various types of foreign cuisine), table of contents, and cast of characters.

That, my final wordcount for the last day, is what I’m typically capable of. I normally write several thousand words a day, sometimes 5,000 or more. While I respect that some writers have a slower pace, or might only want to work on a paragraph a day, that’s not my style at all. I naturally write very prolifically, and when my wordcounts are only a few hundred words a day (if that), it’s a sign something’s very, very wrong.

I came up with some great ideas for more subplots, chapter sections, and secondary characters for this book. These subplots include Sonyechka’s experience in fifth grade, and Tamara’s in second, based on my own. I’m planning a future blog post on how closely you should base characters and storylines on real life.

I’m really excited about the final quarter (or so) of Part I. Since I write so long, I like to let things build for a really long time before things start coming to a dramatic head. I’m also really pleased with all the unplanned secondary characters and subplots I came up with, though I’m still dissatisfied with how I’ve been executing one of those subplots.

Have you ever worked on a book where you weren’t consistently strong with motivation, creativity, and/or wordcount? Does it sometimes take until a certain amount of time into a period of working on a book (if you’re doing it in separated stages) for the writing to take off?

P.S.: To mark next week’s special holiday, I’ll be fêting Rio on its 35th anniversary. I’ve really been looking forward to writing those posts, and hope my readers enjoy them just as much!


Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

9 thoughts on “IWSG—Hopeful for improved wordcounts

  1. Congrats on winning! The fact you finished is all the matters, Way to go!

    I used to use “that” a lot, too. Sometimes, I can still find some to cut from my work. I think “that” is a word that many of us tend to overuse.


  2. It always takes time for me to get back into my WIP again after a break. And I need to take those breaks occasionally for my newspaper articles, and sometimes for my new short stories. It’s a conundrum.


  3. Hey, getting words down is a win. =) Personally, I think there are points where we all love/despise our WIPs and have to come full circle again. I can’t say I love one until I’m handing the final draft off to the publisher. Until then, there’s always something I can’t stand about it.

    I think writing is like any habit. You have to prime the pump and eventually the words flow like a river–after you’ve established or reestablished the habit.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You probably notice more writing annoyances than I do because you write and read more than I do. I tend to be rather tolerant and forgiving as long as I’m not stumbling over what I’m reading. I grew up reading a lot of Tom Swift books which probably break a ton of those peeves of yours and going back to one a few years ago I was very forgiving of the old school writing.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out


  5. Purple prose drives me nuts as well.
    As for my writing, I usually don’t hit my groove until page 100, which means I end up trashing the first 100 pages of a first draft because it doesn’t flow well with the rest of the book!


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