The Extrahuman Union

The 50K Word Event Horizon

Posted on: April 8, 2011

This past week I hit a psychological milestone on one of my works-in-progress: 50,000 words written. Hooray! I told Twitter all about it and had a celebratory drink.

Of course, the story’s not nearly finished. We’re just now getting in to some of the major action! If I had to guess, this one will clock in around 80K words, maybe a bit more, but there’s really no telling. Word counts are interesting, but stories take as long as they’re going to take, and books are as long as they are. The word count is usually irrelevant. I know this, intellectually.

And yet! 50K has fixed itself as a major goal in my mind. I think I may blame NaNo for this. I did NaNo back in 2004, (the result of that became BROKEN, which in its final form is a bit under 60K words total), and since then I’ve always thought of 50K in a work-in-progress as some sort of monumental, awe-inspiring, chisel-it-into-a-stone-in-the-desert achievement. When I hit that magic number during the first draft of FLY INTO FIRE, I thought, yes, this might really get finished! And now that I’ve done the same for this work-in-progress, tentatively titled THE DAUGHTER STAR, I’m starting to think that I may have a third novel in me after all. Now that it’s past a certain point, it has a much better chance to survive.

This might be one of the better things that NaNo does by setting that rather arbitrary 50K finish line–once that goal is reached, the work suddenly seems a lot more solid and official. It’s here, it’s past that first big hurdle, and finishing it suddenly seems a lot less daunting.

Of course, now I actually have to do so. I’d better get back to writing.


3 Responses to "The 50K Word Event Horizon"

50k just feels SOLID. It’s a lot of words, it’s a slim novel, and it’s around halfway to a “proper” novel length, at least in sf/f. Makes you feel pretty darn good to get there, even if you still have a long way to go!

…we won’t talk about how many novels I have that have made 50k and then promptly stalled.

I love that our adult writing careers, if you will, both began with Nano 2004. I’ve outgrown it since, but I still feel like 50k is a solid number. It’s where you start to see the real shape of your novel. Good luck on getting through a third book! I bet you’ve got enough ideas for even more than that. 🙂

Yeah, good ol’ Nano! It was good for me in that I found out that yes, I could in fact write a book! 🙂

Thanks– I’m making definite progress on that third book (and, at the same time, another manuscript). I’m a writing machine lately!

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