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Hey ... wait a second ...

I was perusing the October issue of Writer's Digest when I came across this letter To the "Questions & Quandries" column:

"Is it true that one typed, double-spaced page of writing is, on average, 250 words? If so, is this still the accepted way of gauging word count?"

I thought, "Hey, I've been wondering that very same thing myself!" I'd changed the way I calculated words in my manuscript based on my agent's recommendation, and it had jumped the word count considerably. So I anxiously read the rest of the question:

"If not, what's the correct method for counting words in a manuscript?" -- Mark Hunter.

For a long moment I stared, having one of those heart stopping moments one usually gets from seeing a traffic accident happen, or seeing your first nude woman. Then I said, aloud (there were other people in the room), "Hey. That's me!"

I'd sent the question to Writer's Digest months ago after the discussion with my agent, and forgotten all about it.

Now, I've seen myself in print for years, both with my small town columns and newspaper articles, and with the occasional letter to the editor. But seeing my name in a national magazine, especially one about writing, sent shivers down my spine, and gave me one true high in what's been a generally cruddy year. Even if it wasn't a paid article. So thanks, powers that be, for reminding me there are still thrills to be had.

By the by: their accepted method of calculating word count is the very same one I first learned and used, when I was whacking away at a manual typewriter more than two decades ago.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 14th, 2005 07:20 pm (UTC)
You type your stuff up on a typewriter? Only with a word processer the question becomes really moot..
Sep. 15th, 2005 04:13 am (UTC)
not my type
I DID whack away at a typewriter. It was 25 years ago when I first moved out on my own, convinced best-sellerdom was right around the corner. It was during that time that I picked up a book called "How to Write Science Fiction", which taught me the old simple-math method of doing a word count. I moved to a word processor about 15 years ago, and to a computer about 10 years ago. But even though the computer word count is instantaneous, apparently most fiction editors still want you to go by the old method -- another example of the publishing industry being behind the times.
I still have my manual, but after being able to revise on the computer screen, I wouldn't go back to the typewriter for nothin'.
Sep. 15th, 2005 06:44 am (UTC)
Re: not my type
Hey, I bought that book too. About six years ago, couple of short stories aside, still waiting to be published....
Sep. 15th, 2005 10:50 am (UTC)
spending money to not make money
I know the feeling -- although I haven't counted them, I'd estimate I own well over a hundred books related to writing, including several years worth of Writer's Markets, not to mention several years worth of subscriptions to Writer's Digest. And I've been trying to get published for over 20 years ... had a lot of non-fiction success that sneaked up on me while I was trying to become a famous fiction writer, so I shouldn't complain. But I do anyway.
Sep. 15th, 2005 11:07 am (UTC)
Re: spending money to not make money
Oh yeah 'how to get published' books really work.

Sep. 19th, 2005 09:08 am (UTC)
Re: spending money to not make money
Sure they work; the writers of those books are raking in the dough.
I do believe a writer needs to learn from others, but taking actual instruction in writing, rather than just reading books, is the best method for most. Sadly, I waded through my first decade of writing thinking I didn't need anyone's help, which in reality works only for those with the inborn genius I don't hope to claim.
If I overcame my shame and let you compare my fiction from age 18 to my fiction now, I think you'd agree there's been marked (pardon the pun) improvement.
Sep. 19th, 2005 05:10 pm (UTC)
Re: spending money to not make money
The only book about writing I got anything from is the grammer handbook and Stephen King's book on writing...
Sep. 20th, 2005 06:23 am (UTC)
The basics
I haven't read King's book, but the old English textbook I picked up, along with my dozen or so dictionaries, helped me repair the damage I did by not paying attention in English class. You can't build a house if you don't know how to use a hammer ...
Sep. 19th, 2005 09:09 am (UTC)
and besides ...
By the way, the important books aren't about how to write -- they're about how to sell your writing.
Sep. 19th, 2005 05:09 pm (UTC)
Re: and besides ...
True enough.
Sep. 20th, 2005 06:25 am (UTC)
speaking of selling ...
I recently wrote for and received the Buffy tie-in writer's guidelines from Simon Spotlight Books .... I'm thinking about going legit or, to put it another way, rolling the dice with a novel proposal.
Sep. 20th, 2005 07:26 am (UTC)
Re: speaking of selling ...
Interesting, good luck.

To be honest I have a very low opinion of those tie-in books. Read a few, wasn't impressed....
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:51 am (UTC)
Re: speaking of selling ...
Well, maybe it's time for me to change their quality level. Or at least get a paycheck ... :-)
You're right, some of the ones I read were worse than a lot of the fanfiction I've perused, yours included. But some were pretty good; besides, I've always subscribed to the theory that if I stand beside ugly people, I'll look better.
Sep. 20th, 2005 11:04 am (UTC)
Re: speaking of selling ...
Good theory to embrace....

The Gatekeeper Trilogy was pretty decent, the rest remind me of S7.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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