50k on the WIP

Yesterday, I passed the 50,000 word mark in my standalone cyberpunk novel work-in-progress. 50k always feels like the most significant milestone in the drafting process, for some reason. I’m not sure why.

In my head, if not necessarily in physical reality, 30k is 100 pages; 60k is a novel, although not a particularly robust one. So why is 50k such a big deal?

I cruised right past without noticing this time around, and when I sat back at the end of the session I found myself a bit over 51,000. Nice feeling. In the normal course of writing a book, the closer I get to this point, the more frequently I check my word count. It becomes a major distraction. Like watching the clock at work, waiting for 5 o’clock. Only the hands can’t move while your eyes are on them; the hands only move when you not only stop paying attention, but start typing and move the damn things yourself.

The target I set for this book, at the beginning, is 75,000 words. I anticipate going over. I almost always do. The first Voidstrider book was projected at 60k and ended up at 66,000. The second, planned for 65k, was nearly 71k. And the third volume, planned at 70, tickled the underside of 80. (I’ve set a tentative target for volume four at 85,000. The mind wilts.)

I expect the current WIP to clock around 80k, maybe 82. There’s quite a bit of story remaining: I have a twist and a half yet to reveal, two major set pieces and a final confrontation with deeply meaningful personal struggle … I’m about halfway through the “story,” and maybe 3/5 through the plot, but somehow it feels like I’m 80% done with the actual task of writing. It’s hard to say how many words will be required for the remaining bits; as many as it takes. 30,000 seems about right.

It is at this point I acquire the maddening itch to begin revision.

I ignore the rules and edit as I write, to an extent. I go back and add or delete, a ‘graph here or there. Tweak a line or two, alter some dialogue to fit what I’m drafting in the current chapter.

But now I want to race ahead to the real revisions.

So in a way this last section will be harder, not easier. I have temptations to resist, you see.

Anyway: I’m off to tweak dialogue from yesterday’s session, and hopefully get a good chunk of this next bit drafted out. It’s about a big fella with technologically enhanced musculature who really enjoys driving.

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