M.A. Wohl

Writer on a Quest

Concerns about the word count started to cloud the revision I was working on. I had too many words in my hands for a MG novels. And, more words were coming this way. It was time to take a step back and think. Think, writer. Think!

Revising chapter 10 of the middle-grade writing project is, so far, easier to tackle then the dreaded chapter 8.

In chapter 10, it’s all about accepting to go forward and taking action to tackle the new world and the new situation created by the conflict.

End Act 1. Start Act 2!

In other words, it’s time to have fun!

Although, as I happily went through chapter 10, I started to have some concerns about the overall word count.

Big, huge « stop this revision right now and think darn it » concerns.

I’m in a book market state of mind

Since I want to be traditionally published, since I want to write a story a young audience will enjoy, I often look at the book market.

It was easier when I worked in bookstores. I then had access to ARC’s, which was giving the writer in me a 3 to 6 months preview of what was coming up on the shelves.
I could also talk with the salespersons and sometimes, us book clerks were invited to private bookish events by editors.

I had a better grasp of the book world. Now, I can only talk to book clerk and read the book news, both for the US market and the Francophone market (two very, very, oh so very different entities; maybe one day, I’ll muster enough courage to write a blog post about it… one day… maybe).

This MG novel is in sync with the market, without being like absolutely every other MG books you see on the shelves.

It will be a bit different lengthwise too. A tat longer than usual, but outrageously longer. I planned to write 55k to 60k novel.

The first draft stopped at 50K. The said « maximum’ words publishers are looking for when looking at a middle-grade writing project.
Hooray! Editing and revising usually bring about an increase in the word count, but not a dramatic one.

I did a big editing pass. I deleted a bunch of chapters, move a chapter up, move a chapter down.
Before getting to chapter 10, I wrote two new chapters. Word count wise, I was golden.

Then.

So many words, so little room

Now at chapter 10, the word count says 45K words. Here’s where it goes wrong: I have 5 new chapters to write.

There are 30 chapters planned in this stand-alone. Yes, that is correct, a stand-alone middle-grade novel. Prrretty wild, right?!

With a sinking heart, I stopped the revision. For a couple of hours, I debated and finally, I decided I needed to go back to the drawing board.

I needed to outline the five years MG writing project. Again.

I did not cry. I ate chocolate and read the rest of the day, until the feeling of being a miserable, useless, devoid of any talent whatsoever writer fade away.

Lucky enough, the novel I read was good, but not very good.

I felt hope again.

Yes, I made a big mistake to start with: before undergoing the big changes in the MG novel, I did not outline.
Because I don’t outline. I don’t do it. When I do, I throw it out or forget about it.
I’ve been working on this novel for so long, it did not even occur to me to outline.
For me, an outline is very much a part of developing the story.

In this writing project case, there’s no way around it.

I have to be super-extra aware of: pacing and of: details.

Too many details are my talon d’Achille. That and adverbs – darn a doodle, I looove adverbs.

Anyway, I tried then to avoid the work by telling myself I needed index cards, markers, corkboard, a this, a that.
Typical procrastinator behavior!
No worry, I avoided polluting the world a little more by using what I have, plus a little my imagination… and some of my kiddo stickers. I know, I’m a terrible mother.

The results?

I fell in love with that MG writing project all over again. And my office walls are less boring now.

Fellow writers, I hope some of this rambling help or, at least, gave you some hope.

Many thanks for reading.

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