Apparently 800 Words Is the Going Rate for Conversations

And other observed trends from one week of writing like mad.

Either my muse was so offended by my “It was then that I carried you”/”Bullshit, those are obviously my footprints” reference that he’s working overtime to make it up to me, or that really was the tipping point for this story, because I have been writing like crazy lately.  The obsession with this story hasn’t quite gotten to the point of interference with day job, friendships, or marriage, but probably only because my husband’s work schedule is currently opposite of mine and I can multi-task the friendships while I am at my day job or in commute.

One thing I am trying to do is keep better track of how much I write in a day, and on what (forward progress or future scenes or general notes).  By this point in the story, there aren’t really very many notes because I already know pretty much exactly what happens, so almost everything I’ve written has been either on the current scene as viewed from Prologue forward or a bare-bones sketch of a future scene.  Usually my sketches are conversations, because my characters like to talk. I’m averaging about 1200 words a day right now (including the outlier 0 from my day off), which is not a high number but better than my NYR goal of 1000 per day. Also considering it’s in about an hour and half–an hour before work and my half-hour lunch–I am pleased with the statistic.

I’ve noticed that the conversations my characters have with one another seem to be about 800 words long. I don’t know if that’s just the natural length of a conversation–the old “seven-minute lull” that is seen regularly in studies on conversation patterns–or if it’s the limit of what my subconscious can pump to the surface without any effort on my part. 

I’m also finding that it takes about twice as long to write the same number of words when I am writing on a chapter, not just transcribing a conversation. I guess that’s because I have to stop and think about blocking the character’s movements, describing the setting at least enough to ground them in a place, and offering a bit of emotional insight.  All of that might be in my mind when I “wstch” the scene, but figuring out how to pare the images down to the barest details necessary and how best to include those details in the overall scene takes a bit more time.  Thoughtful placement of details, I guess you could call it.

Currently the work is 51,500 from start to the current chapter, and my document has another 15,000 words of notes and sketches (at this point probably 2/3 of that are scene sketches).  This is the longest work I’ve written by a factor of two, not counting a couple abandoned novels that reached about 30K plus notes before getting orphaned.

The funniest part is, I really have no idea how much further I have to go in terms of words. I might only be halfway through, which is just…crazy, considering I expected this to be a 75K novel not a 100K one when I started it. By chapter count and event count I think I’m halfway, but then again sometimes events come together more quickly than I think once they get rolling. I guess I’ll just keep on writing, and one day I’ll look up in amazement and be done, and only then will I have any proper perspective on the journey.


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