October 12th, 2021

Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Thoughts on Writing 30

#AmWriting #IndieAuthor #WritingCommunity

The three (so far) Stone Island Sea Stories!

Gosh, you've caught me slacking off again.  It's been a long time since I've posted anything here and even longer since I've posted any Thoughts on Writing.  Maybe, just maybe I'll get back to a more regular routine and have something new here on a more regular basis.

Anyway, I've been talking a little about standard format for manuscripts, and I think I've pretty much covered the basics of it.  Of course what I put forth is my understanding of it, so you may find information that does not agree with it.  One of the things I've come to realize is that while we call it standard, there are a lot of variation in what is wanted or acceptable.  The basic idea is to find out what those you are submitting to want and give them that.  It may mean you will have to make some changes to your manuscript before sending it off to a particular agent or publisher.

In ending this particular discussion, let's look at word count and word count estimation... if we haven't done so already.  (I'm trying to remember if I've already addressed this, so if I have, my apologies for repeating myself.)  I've mentioned before that a lot of what is standard format harks back to the days of the typewriter.  These devices did not, could not provide one with a word count, even though publishers and editors measured story length in terms of the number of words rather than the number of pages.  If you are like me, you are not going to go through a 400 page manuscript and count every single word to arrive at a word count figure.  It can be tedious counting the words on a single page.

Somewhere along the line, people realized that if everything about the page was standard or the same, the number of words on that page should be roughly the same.  And they realized that pages could vary in how much text was actually on them.  A page of dialogue, particularly short sentences and phrases would have less than a page full of narration.  The first page of a chapter, since it starts a third of the way down will have less, as will the last page of a chapter.  There a page might only have a few words or a few lines on it.  Eventually it was discovered that a manuscript typed on an Elite typewriter averaged out to about 250 words per page.  If typed on a Pica machine, the average was closer to 200 words per page.  With that knowledge, writers and others could estimate word count length of a manuscript.  A 400 page manuscript would be roughly 100k or 80k words, depending upon what size typewriter it was produced on.  The same holds true for the most commonly accepted computer fonts and font sizes. Times Roman/Times New Roman in size 12 can be estimated at 250 words per page.  Courier/New Courier, size 12 comes in at 200 words per page.

But remember, this is just an estimate, something that will get you in the ball park.  Typically actual word count per page is a bit higher.  I find a typical page in Times Roman/Times New Roman is closer to 275 maybe even 300 words per page.  Even so, I set my writing goals by page count, rather than by word count.  My goal for a daily writing session is usually four pages, not 1K words.  I shoot for completing a manuscript at 400 pages, not 100K words.

I just did some checking on my three manuscripts.  The first ended up at 411 pages and 119406 words,or 290 words per page.  The second had 393 pages and 115452 words, for an average of 294 words per page.  The last had 404 pages and 115502 words, averaging out to 286 words per page.  Word count is indeed higher than one would estimate using the standard average, but still it puts one in the ball park.

Next time I hope to begin a look at the publishing process.