110,000 words? Are you crazy?

110,000 words? Are you crazy?

Teaching a class at our local school the other day I had to try not to smile when a student groaned about the fact that they had to write a five page report. It helped to remember being in that position. At that age I felt much the same way. Boy how things have changed.

I learned quickly in college that I was a bit odd; a twenty page paper became pretty normal. The reason for that was, for a “lefty” the opportunity to use a keyboard and portable computer changed everything. I’m not old – but – my first college computer was a portable Commodore 64. It changed my college life! I found out that I really do love to write. Once the joy of jotting a story overcame the frustration of “making a mess” when I tried to write those things out with pencil and paper, an amazing door was opened.

Now I write a 110,000 word book and have to go back and cut things out.

What’s the key to that many words?

For me, breaking the book down into smaller sections was a fairly natural thing. I never really thought of the total number of words until I had the basic concept all thought out and the rough manuscript largely complete.

Once I got to that point it was much easier to go back and “fill in the blanks”. I could begin expanding on areas that needed help, exploring the narrative sections much more fully, and looking at descriptions, point of view, setting, etc.

Sure, I would sit and type out particular scenes, dialogue, and so forth as they came to mind – I jotted down the first lines for a new story just the other morning – but I didn’t try to have the final draft figured out in my head.

Would some people refer to that as being a “seat of the pants” writer?

I suppose that might be true, it’s definitely the way I like to write. But more than that it keeps me from becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work a full-length book entails.

Oh, and, being a guy who likes to talk more and more as I get older doesn’t seem to hurt either!


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