Breaking 50,000 Words: Getting Serious about your Novel

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 1st Mar 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
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I know a couple of writers who have completed novels, publishing them is of course another challenge. Having just broken fifty thousand words and my novel is currently no longer on hold and I have dedicated a little time each day to completing it and making it ready to market to publishers.

Most writers give up before 50,000 words

During 2009/10 I was discussing creating a novel with other writers I knew and one thing that I was told was about the 50,000 word theory, the principle being that breaking fifty thousand words was the hardest point for any novel writer. In a way it was true, at that time I was working on a story and for some reason it came to a halt at just about 45,000 words, primarily because I no longer had time to work on the story with other activities taking a higher priority.

Having gone through my difficulties over the last months of course there were occasions when I had nothing but time, yet I did not have the inclination to continue writing that story, it seemed as if that would be where the story would stay, then a few things happened in life, including the death of one of the real life characters in the story and the release of some information about related events, creating a nagging need to get moving with the story again.

Editing the Story

The original story was basically solid, but it occurred to me that I needed to edit it from page one and at the same time include some further twists in the tale that my later research had uncovered, so my primary task (even at this point) remains the editing of the original 111 pages and ensuring everything was correct and up to my current standards for use of English language. Of course those points where it is possible to enhance the story, including new information, adding a new twist, etc. were all important. I am currently about 50% of the way editing the original word-set, but this is working to plan and is allowing me to enhance the story along the way, and is proceeding well.

Of course it is here where additional research into the events in question revealed that there is a person missing from my original text, they are not central but they do have an important peripheral role to play and I will have to adjust the plot in order to include their impact on the story. That is not really a problem because they are only linked to the story a few pages after the part that I am currently editing.

This all goes to prove that stories are complex, full of twists and turns, some relevant and some irrelevant but exploring many paths is necessary in order to explore the full history of events.

Another thing about editing the story from the beginning is finding errors that were not visible at the time, such as using the word "buy" instead of "but" or other small errors like that. This fits with my theory that we all convince ourselves that what is on the page is correct, when it is not. The other aspect of editing a piece wholesale is ensuring that sentences are a joy to read and we must ensure each is, altering them when they are not.

Full Length?

Obviously at 50,000 words and 113 pages my work is far from complete, which is likely to require a total of 100,000 to 120,000 words or 220 to 250 pages.

I have clearly got a long way to go to finish the book, but at least I know that this is now possible.

The Dream

This was kick-started because of a dream I had recently.

I don't normally dream at all in my sleep. I used to when young, but as I grew older I dreamed less and less and when I did dream it was something significant and something to pay attention to. In this dream I was talking to an author who died some time ago. I was walking along the street and he was sitting at a coffee shop, I looked up and spotted him and smiled, instantly recognising him.

"Peter, grab a coffee and pull up a chair." he said with the authority of knowing that I respected him as a writer.

"Thank you." I responded and of course as is the command of dream land the barista instantly appeared and presented the perfect blend as I moved the chair into place.

"How come you know me?" I guess this was my logical mind peeking through the dream.

"In dreams anything is possible." He assured me.

"I thought you were no longer with us." I was delicately trying to point out the fact that he was no longer in the world of the living.

"But anything is possible in dream world, we have known each other for a long time and people are always alive in here." He said as his palm gently tapped his chest right where the heart is. "You were writing a story!"

"Yes, but I came to a halt."

"But right now you have some time to get it moving again."

That was true I do have some spare time, even though I had started to write for a client on a part time basis I did have some spare time available. He sat there smiling, because he knew that I knew he was right. I could not say anything, but spent a little time simply listening to his advice and of course I know he was right because he had published nearly 500 books during the course of his career.

"Don't worry about publishing it at this time, because when it is ready the publishers will find you." These were the final words of this great master as he simply faded away and the dream ended.

When it is Ready they will Find You

Wise advice from such a master, so the time had come to craft the other 65,000 or so words. I guess it is easy to think about finding a publisher before you have finished writing but writing is the first hurdle that you must overcome, in part you need to get colourful in your writing so that it excites others open that toolbox of words then think about how you are going to tell the story.

Image Credits

  • Book with Reading light, royalty free image downloaded from Dreamstime in 2013.
  • Red Squiggly line by Peter B. Giblett
  • Exploring your desires and treading the path by freeingthesoul.com
  • Publisher - Word art by Peter Giblett

Any thoughts?

Have you got any thoughts about the story that you have to tell? Perhaps you could leave a comment!

Here are other posts by Peter B. Giblett that may be of interest to you:

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Tags

50000 Word, Editing, Enhance The Story, Exploring Many Paths, Fifty Thousand Words, Finding Errors, Finish The Book, Publish, Stories Are Complex, Telling The Story, Theory, Think About, Twists And Turns

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar M G Singh
2nd Mar 2015 (#)

Best of luck

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author avatar Retired
2nd Mar 2015 (#)

Best wishes! Thank you for sharing this great post!

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author avatar Sherri Granato
2nd Mar 2015 (#)

Good luck to you. I am also in the middle of a success story, but mine is 129,000 words and 231 pages. Sometimes these things take awhile, but they are so worth the sleepless nights and fantasy worlds that we delve into to finish them.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
2nd Mar 2015 (#)

So Sherri you should be nearing completion?

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
2nd Mar 2015 (#)

I wish you the very best! Thanks for sharing your article. I think I just got another idea.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
2nd Mar 2015 (#)

Good for you Nancy.

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author avatar Retired
3rd Mar 2015 (#)

As ever, quality beats quantity every day! I reckon that if you can produce 70,000 words that keep the reader going to the last page, you have probably written enough.

There is nothing worse in a novel than finding page after page that does not advance the story but is only there to bulk out a thin plot and poor characterisation.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Mar 2015 (#)

Actually John as a part of trying to get a publisher for my son's work I know that most publishers today are looking for 120,000 to 130,000 words. but I do agree that a well written piece is essential.

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author avatar Retired
3rd Mar 2015 (#)

Somebody once said that Americans love fat books and thin women! I don't know about the latter, but maybe Canadians agree with the former?

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Mar 2015 (#)

Hmmm... interesting thought, but the major audience for this book is actually the UK, although it won't be sold there first.

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author avatar Tranquilpen
3rd Mar 2015 (#)

Congratulations! Yes there really is something to say about breaking through the 50,000 word threshold. I went the self publishing route (free) using www.lulu.com, I figured, that if Wilbur Smith can make use of their services, why not I?

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Mar 2015 (#)

I will make it publication ready before approaching publishers, but their marketing services stretch wider than ours can.

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author avatar Carol Roach
3rd Mar 2015 (#)

the publishing and marketing is the hardest part for me. I have published two books.

Incidentally everyone dreams we all go through the dream cycle several times at night, but we don't always remember our dreams

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Mar 2015 (#)

Carol, I know all about dream cycles and techniques to remember dreams - I simply no longer dream as a part of my sleep cycle.

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