Yesterday, I smashed the idea of writing overly-wordy scenes just to get your word count up. Today, I want to focus more on the idea of a word count itself.
I would like to say that I am a big supporter of forcing yourself to write every day, and at having a goal in mind. After all, even if you only write one page a day, that is still 365 pages a year (which is a pretty hefty novel). But the problem that can arise out of that is that, again, you stop focusing on the content and start focusing on the quantity.
For example, say you need to write a 5-7 page essay for English class. A person who can only write four pages isn’t going to go, “Hmm, I wonder if I should analyze my thesis some more.” They are going to add words and use widows and orphans (which is when the last line of the paragraph has only one word) to bump their existing essay up to five pages. That is following the letter of the law, true, but not the spirit. The teacher wants five pages of analysis, not four pages of analysis and one page filled with meaningless words.
That happens when writing a novel too. I am just as guilty of it as anyone else. Obviously, with a word count instead of a page count, you will not be using the widows and orphans technique, but the idea remains the same. But should that count towards your goal? It does. It follows the letter of the law. By like I said yesterday, if 1667 words is turning into a chore, then the time you spend adding adjectives and the like should probably be spent working on your plot.
More on word counts tomorrow.
TODAY’S PLOT DEVICE: Have a character drastically change their appearance. It can be through liposuction, tattoos, botox—whatever. How do the other characters treat them differently?