Harry Potter Day!

I got up early and wrote this morning, and it feels good. After not writing consistently every day this week, and really needing a few more hours sleep, it wasn’t as easy as it has been to jump write back into the story. But once I got going, the words flowed, and before I knew it, I had almost doubled my daily goal, which was good as it made up for not writing anything yesterday.

Current word count: 11,633

Words written today: 570

Words to goal: 28,367/ 350 words a day til the end of the September

Today we’re calling Harry Potter Day around my house. With the movie adaptation of the sixth book coming to theaters on Wednesday, my husband and I invited a bunch of friends over for a Harry Potter mega marathon. We’re starting this morning and will watch all five movies already out. Lunch and dinner are being taken from the Potter books, with sandwiches piled high with roast beef, cheeses, etc., for lunch, Cornish pasties for dinner and lots of sausage rolls, rock cakes, scones (the proper British kind — i.e. like American biscuits but smothered in jam instead of gravy) and jelly beans throughout the day. In fact, I was up late making the Cornish pasties last night, and for my first ones (even though I am British), I think they came out pretty well.

Corny? Of course. But it should be fun. I even joked that all the Americans should speak with British accents all day and say they have to go the “loo” every time they need the bathroom, but that might get to be a bit much after a while. 🙂

For me, although I’m really looking forward to the food (I haven’t had a good sausage roll in years), I think mostly it’s going to be a blast being at Hogwarts all day. I think J.K. Rowling did a fantastic job with these books, building characters that we can identify with and care about, a story that’s adventurous, and a world that’s just pure fun. I think that’s one of the reasons the books have been so successful: They don’t try to be anything too grand, just deliciously fun.

In my research for the food for our marathon party (yep, I researched it, I couldn’t remember everything that was in the books, and look at this amazing list of Harry Potter food), I found this online essay that, while maybe wasn’t trying to be critical, says that the food at Hogwarts isn’t healthy. Here’s a quote:

“No little amount of imagination is required to explain why there are so few obese wizards and how come that they are not suffering from constant lack of vitamins, various heart diseases, glycaemia, strokes and other dreaded consequences of unbalanced diets.”

But that’s exactly my point. In Hogwarts and the magical world, the characters, and us as readers, don’t have to worry about how many servings of vegetables we’ve had that day. It also serves as a comparison to Harry’s world in his muggle home. Hogwarts is filled with lots of goodies he will never get at the Dursleys. And that’s a difference J.K. Rowling was trying to make, I think, to demonstrate the two worlds of Harry Potter.

But for us readers, it’s the same. In our real world, we have to consider our caloric intake (maybe not the yound readers, but their parents are considering it for them). Inside the Harry Potter books, however, we can imagine eating goodies and doing magic and battling evil (and winning, of course). In short, we can have fun. To me, that’s what the books are all about.

And that’s what Harry Potter Day is all about too.

Are you looking forward to the new movie? Got any plans to celebrate?

Write On!


Quick check in

Not much time today, so just a quick check in word count post. Here’s the details:

Current word count: 10,120

Words written today: 376

Words to goal: 29,880/ 343 words a day til end of September

This weekend I also figured out the rest of the story and wrote out a rough layout for all the action. It hasn’t been separated into chapters yet, just this happens, then this, then this… It’s a big help and gives me more confidence when I sit down to write. I think it definitely makes it easier to have at least a rough guideline to follow.

How are your manuscripts coming?

Write On!

Today's word count and full word counts

Happy Fourth! Hope you had lots of great food, company and fireworks. We just saw our local fireworks from our backyard. Very nice.

I finally got some more writing done today, and here’s my daily word count:

Current word count: 9,240

Words written today: 787

Words to goal: 30,760/ 350 per day til end of September

I’ve changed the final word count, which I was planning to be around 50,000 for a middle grade novel. 50K is lower than my first novel, which is 60,000. Now, that 60K fit right in the correct range for middle grade novels that I had researched when I was writing the book. Back then, I had found articles that said a middle grade novel should be up to 65,000, so I thought I was quite good at 60K. Apparently not.

Recently, I’ve read in a couple places that the word counts wanted for middle grade novels are between 20,000 and 50,000. Here’s a post from June on the blog Pursue Your Writing Dream, entitled Writing for Kids: Middle Grade Novels. And here’s a post from the Guide to Literary Agents blog that cites agent Michelle Andelman as saying the correct word count for a middle grade novel is 20,000 to 40,000.

It seems as though my old research is showing its age.

Now, there’s something to be said for writing as much as you need to tell the story, and I know that some agents don’t stick to these guidelines too severely. But, we have to remember that this is a business. And, especially for new writers, it can’t hurt to make our books as tight as possible.

Let’s face it, for many of us writers — ok, probably all — we think all our words are golden. But, as hard as it is to cut some great piece of writing that we’re so proud of, if the story doesn’t need it, it shouldn’t be in there. First and foremost, we writers are storytellers, and the story should be the most important thing. If the average middle grade novel is in the 20K to 50K range, then the average good story for that age group should be able to be told within that range.

Are there exceptions? Always. Each of the subsequent Harry Potter books get farther and farther away from 50K.

But again, for new writers, it doesn’t hurt — and probably helps — to rein in the writing and concentrate on story. And that doesn’t mean we can’t also have great writing. It just means, tell a tight story in just the right words. Tell a tight story first, then find make the writing great in the revision.

So, there’s the challenge. And now, although I had been aiming for a 50K MG novel, I’ve now lowered that to 40K. Cut 10% or so in the revision and I should be right smack in the right range.

How are you guys doing with your daily word counts?

Anyone else find out you’re off the average manuscript length?

Write On!

Writing point of view

Current word count: 8,453

Words written today: 710

Words to goal: 41,547/462 per day til end of September

I woke up too late to write yesterday, so had two days of no writing. It made me determined to get up early this morning, and I rolled out of bed a little after 5. Ugg! I’m now really tired, but I did 710 words, so that makes it worth it.

So far, the story is still swimming along. In this book, my POV will be shifting from time to time between two different characters, and up til now, I have just been writing in one of the character’s POV. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be switching to the other’s POV, and I’m a little intimidated. I don’t know that character as well as yet. But I’ll get to know him during the writing.

A few years ago, I was told at a writers retreat that children’s books are usually single POV and that’s what I should be writing. I agree that most books are in single POV, but there are exceptions, and they work fine. I don’t know yet how successful mine will be, but it’s a necessity for the story, I think, at least the way the story is going now. It’s either that or have none of it in the kid’s POV, which I don’t want.

The best part is, this is just the first draft. This is where I can try out different things. The final draft might not be in split POV. I don’t know. But the important thing is to try doing your story in different ways and see what works best. For now, I’m doing split POV.

Anyone else writing in split POV?

How are your word counts coming?

Write On!

Setting goals

With a full-time job and family, it can be hard to make sure writing is given its time, especially if you’re not a “working” writer, i.e. getting paid, with deadlines. So, for me, setting goals can help keep you going and see your progress.

Yesterday, I decided I wanted to finish my new novel by the end of October. No particular reason why. The date just stuck out in my head, maybe because I’d love to try National Novel Writing Month in November and see if I can write 50,000 words in one month — which I think is going to be an impossibility for someone like me with a day-job and family, but who knows.

Anyway, to get to 50,000 words by the end of October, I have to write … 354 words a day. Ok, for some reason, I did a rough calculation of this yesterday and came up with about 1,600 words, starting with 45,000 words still needed (I already had 5,000) divided by four month of four weeks each. Just now I did the calculation properly with the exact number of days (127, including yesterday, as I started yesterday) and came up with 354. My in-my-head math must have been way off yesterday. Ah! The 1,600 was probably the number needed for a week! This is why I’m a writer and not a mathematician.

Anyhoo, so I need to write 354 words a day. That’s way more doable than 1,600. 🙂 Yesterday I wrote about 1,500 in about three hours and I was thinking there’s no way I was going to be able to do 1,600 on work days. But 354 is much more doable.

So, I’m going to write a blog post every day, and at the beginning, I’ll keep a running tally of where I am in the word count.

If you’d like to tally yours too, join me in the comments. It’ll help us all keep going and inspiring each other.

Today’s start: 6,191

End: 6,794

Total for the day: 603

Still needed: 43,206/345 a day

Write On!