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Sherry & Leo
Rejected by HM&B
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
Darcie & Alex
17,221 / 55,000 (31.3%)
Word Count, Again
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
We're back to that old chestnut again - the word count discussion.

MsCreativity brought something to my attention that I hadn't heard about. Evidently HMB are now counting pages rather than words, so it'll be computer count rather than actual word count that matters. Has anybody else heard anything about this?

I really don't like the idea of having to do page counts as that doesn't suit the way I set up my manuscripts during the writing phase. I have just one long document, y'see, and no idea how many pages that will actually be covered when it's finished. Words are much easier to count.

For the time being, I'm sticking with the 50,000 - 55,000 words for the Tender line as I'm sure if it's wrong and they want to buy one of my stories, somebody at HMB will let me know. It would be interesting to hear what, if anything, others have heard, though. (Debi. Do you understand now why I fuss about word counts so much?)

Anyway, I'm now exactly 2,500 words into my new story. That equates to 4.5% of a 55,000 word manuscript. That doesn't sound much after working with 87.3% and the likes but I'm sure it'll soon grow.

I've put the 'old' ms away for a few days to let it rest before going for the revisions. Don't ask me why I've decided to do this, it's just something that feels right. I suppose we all have our own ways of working and nothing's more right or wrong than any other way. Didn't somebody once say that the only right way is the way that works for you?

I'm trying something new this time. I've seen quite a few writers use pictures of people (mostly famous but not always) as inspiration for their heroes/heroines. I've never done that before and certainly didn't during Sherry and Leo's story, but this time I've decided to give it a try.

Here's my idea of Alex. He's a 39 year old news reporter.

What do you think? Obviously he'll have to have that stubble shaven off for work but when he's relaxing... that's another story. I think he looks drop dead sexy, especially as he's wearing a suit. That's how he looked when he turned up at Darcie's house to take her to dinner, after she hadn't seen him for four years. How she kept herself from leaping all over him I'll never know! Perhaps I ought to be writing for 'Presents' rather than 'Tender', being as he's most definitely the kind of guy that women like Darcie would end up wanting to do the sort of thing you have to take your knickers off to do. My mind's eye has given him a few more 'smile lines' because of his age, but I think that just makes him all the more sexier. (Am I showing my age now?)

Anyhow, this is Darcie. She's pretty, isn't she?

She's 33, single and is perfectly happy with the way her life is, thank you very much. She hasn't dated since she lost her husband six years ago and doesn't intend to. I can see that Alex would be attracted to Darcie but although she can see he's handsome and loves him as a friend, she just doesn't want a relationship. She has her reasons, obviously, but I think Alex is going to have to show her a good time or two, don't you?

It'll be interesting to see whether having pictures of my characters will help them develop or not. I'll keep you posted.

PS: Have you ever wondered how a HMB novel is produced? If so, take a look at Fiona Lowe's website. She was lucky enough to get to see her very first book being produced from start to finish. Can you imagine how much fun that must have been?


Technorati Tags: writing, romance
Posted by Sharon J on 11:47 PM   

Blogger Fiona Lowe said...

Sharon, I wouldn't get too stressed about word count. My settings are A4 paper, 2.54 margins, set the spacing to exactly 25. If your manuscript ends up about 190-210 pages then you're set. Honestly, they are looking for a great story...if it is brilliant and engaging they will tell you if they need more or less so please don't spend any time stressing over word count.

So glad you enjoyed the tour of the printing of my book.

7:43 AM   

Blogger Kate Walker said...

Sharon - forget the idea of counting pages. M&B go by computer word count. Some of the American edited lines might use words to a page reckonings but every single nook i have ever submitted and had published has been 'counted' according to the computer.
Go for 50 - 55,000 words that way and then leave it up to an editor to tell you any different.

Word counts are something you should worry about least - as Fiona says, it's the story they're loooking at. No one is ever going to reject a brillian t book because it has a thousand words out here or there


11:45 AM   

Blogger Kate Walker said...

Obviously I meant every single Book I've had published! ;-)

Anyway - forget fussing with pages - use the computer count. I always do

11:47 AM   

Anonymous Sharon J said...

Fiona. Thanks for that. People keep telling me that I must stay within the expected count or they'll reject it (being an unknown to them) so it's not surprising confusion reigns. I'm sure writing mainstream must be so much easier in that sense! Still, as I said in my post, I'm not worrying about it too much as I'm sure they'd let us know if the word count's off. I mean, they'd be fools to turn down a great story just because it had too few words - a problem that can so easily be solved. Not that I'm saying my story is great, but I'm doing my best.

Having said that, I do like to know how many words I've written, though, because that motivates me to keep going.

I have my spacing to exactly 25, too, but my margins were 3.15 so I've changed them to 2.54 now. That now brings my last ms in at 245 pages (although that's approx. because I haven't finished revising and I haven't chopped the pages up properly at chapter ends). But as Kate wrote, the UK office aren't doing the page count thing anyway.

I thought your tour looked like the perfect way to spend a day. I'm sure there aren't many authors who can say they've seen their first novel--or any other novel for that matter--being produced!

Kate. Thanks for your input, too. I'm sure that if anybody knows how to go about this, you do!

To be honest, I think those of us who don't actually have editors to steer and advise us would probably do well to stop listening to what the world and his ferret tell us and just get on with writing. As you say, if the story's good enough for them to want it, and editor will soon put us straight with regards to any mistakes that are being made, whether it's word count or anything else.

11:55 AM   

Blogger Sue aka MsCreativity said...

You said: "I think those of us who don't actually have editors to steer and advise us would probably do well to stop listening to what the world and his ferret tell us and just get on with writing" Well said - you've voiced what my head (and DH) has been trying to tell me for ages, and I've finally listened!

I'm tired of trying to get my brain around this word count thingy. I'm going to get on with my writing and not worry about it anymore. (Please remind me I said this when I start stressing about it again).

Btw... I bet your story IS great :-)

4:56 PM   

Blogger Sue aka MsCreativity said...

Ps. Yep, you're hero's working for me ;-). (You know something, if I don't hurry up with my wip you're going to have completed your second manuscript before I've even completed my first!)

4:59 PM   

Blogger Sue aka MsCreativity said...

oops, me again - please scrap my previous 'you're' and change it to 'your'. D'oh, my brain's gone walkabouts again!

5:01 PM   

Anonymous Sharon J said...

Oh Sue, you're as bad as me, fussing over mistakes you make in comments!

Let's make a pact to both stop worrying about our word counts and get on with writing the stories instead, eh? If I see you stressing, I'll slap your hand and you can do the same to me, ok?

1:10 AM   

Blogger Sue aka MsCreativity said...

That sounds like a good pact to me. I won't be writing 'proper' again until 10 July due to packing/moving/unpacking, but from that day please also feel free to slap my hand when you catch me procrastinating and not working on my wip. :-)

8:40 AM   

Blogger Debi said...

I find it really hard to relate to this whole word count/spacing thing but know that it's something you apparently can't ignore in your genre.
It just seems to me incredibly sad that so much of your time and energy has to be taken up with petty rules and restrictions.
I can't bear the thought of a book being rejected on those grounds ...
See - I'm doing it too! Getting bogged down in the bloody word count instead of saying WOW! FANTASTIC! YOU'VE DONE IT - WHAT AN AMAZING ACHIEVEMENT!!!
There. That's better ...

10:30 AM   

Anonymous Sharon J said...

Sue. You still have to write, even though you're moving soon. Penny has just moved house and still had to keep to her deadlines so there's no excuse.

Debi. I'm not going to fuss as much anymore. I know more of less how many words I have to bring the story in at and will obviously need to aim for that but I'm not going to let word counts get in the way of creativity, which it cn so easily do.

9:13 PM   

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