Bearwall has acquired a new meaning

I have completed the collecting and reorganizing of the Converging Forces chapters into one Word document.

My plan is to go over the whole thing once, correcting spelling errors and egregious grammatical mistakes, the stuff that leaps out at me, and then save it as a PDF locked against changes, with a disclaimer at the beginning that it’s a rough unfinished draft of my work, yadda yadda.

I have mixed thoughts about it. If it’s not in a finished state, why ask you to read it? If it’s not the final polished writing, then I shouldn’t let it out there.

On the other hand, the whole idea was to run a play by email game as if it were an ongoing story, and it turned into an interactive story almost in novel form. So, the condition it’s in is sort of the point, in a way. If looked at sideways in poor lighting.

I collected it all, as I said, and saved it as a word file.

I happened to glance down to see how many pages I had to proofread, just to get an idea of the size of it, estimate how long it’ll take.

Next to the page count, was a Word Count total.

Upon seeing the word count, my first reaction was “bullshit”.

My second was to wonder how it is that I thought I was being agile in writing these, and yet still managed to turn the novel into a massive bearwall.

My word count on Converging Forces so far is over 106,000 words.

I needed to double check my frame of reference, so I visited wikipedia to see if they had anything to say about word counts.

According to wikipedia, a novel is anything over 40,000 words. Mysteries may be around 60,000 words, while a thriller may be around 100,000 words.

You’ll note that they don’t say, “100,000 words is a good place to be when you’re about 2/3rds of the way through.”

Now, I’ll grant you I’m probably closer to 4/5ths of the way through, but that’s still a LOT more than I dreamed of. It doesn’t feel that damn long to me. It feels like nothings HAPPENED in the story yet! We haven’t gotten to any of the BIG stuff we’re building up to! It’s been all intro to characters and build up!

Omigod, I’m on the failboat.

Of course, me being who I am, in my heart I’m saying, “Ah, screw it, I’ve been happy with it so far… so what if it’s one of those manuscripts that would be thrown out of any sensible publishers office, we’ve been having a lot of fun along the way, right guys?”

106,000 words. Well, damn. With a build up like that, I’m going to make damn certain that there is a payoff of epic proportions.

So much for quality, not quantity.

43 thoughts on “Bearwall has acquired a new meaning

  1. Pingback: Spring Shuffle « Tish Tosh Tesh

  2. Larry Correia wrote, edited, and self published his first book, Monster Hunter International, and it garnered enough attention that Baen picked it up. They went through two printings in the first year, the second Monster Hunter book got on the NY Times best seller list, and he’s got 4 books coming out this year.

    One of the books that he’s putting out this year is called Dead Six. This dude (Mike) was writing some fiction on a gun oriented forum, and Larry asked if he could add stuff from the point of view of a different character in the story. They went back and forth and eventually got over 100k words written in the story. Cleaned up and edited, that’s one of the books by Larry (and Mike) that Baen is putting out this year.

    On Larry’s blog, he’s got some stuff up about hints for writers, links found at this link under Writing Related. The How To Get Published # 10 might be of particular interest at this time…

    For those interested in the very rough draft of Dead Six (with lots of comments from the peanut gallery) it can be found at this link.


    • Thank you very much for this linnk.

      Both Cassie and myself went and are fascinated with the information, the ideas, and the example.


      • Brandon Sanderson also shared online the writing process of one of his novels. Don’t have time to find the exact link, but it was somewhere over on

        I wouldn’t stress overly much on exact word counts. The right number of words to tell a story is the number of words that tells the story. The trick, of course, is figuring out exactly what story you’re attempting to tell, and neither digressing from it nor leaving it incomplete.


  3. Also, from…

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – 76,944 words
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – 85,141 words
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – 107,253 words
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – 190,637 words
    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – 257,045 words
    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – 168,923
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Approximately 198,227, the Scholastic count has yet to be announced.

    There’s some good variation close to your current size, and to both sides.


    • And those are YA books, so they’re shorter than “normal” books in the genre. BBB, don’t sweat it. I’ve read all of the CF stuff you’ve written (and jones’d in the middle when I was waiting on the next installment). I think it’s pretty good writing (and I read a fair bit of fantasy stuff).


    • Order of the Phoenix is actually an interesting one – Rowling was distracted by the movie franchise starting up when she was writing that, and I (and others) think it shows up in the quality of the overall book. The book could have been about 2/3rds the size and still told the same story, without spending quite so much time wallowing in teenage angst. Of the 6 movies I’ve seen so far in the series, it’s the only one wherey I definitely prefer the movie, precisely *because* of the extra editing that was needed to fit the story into a movie of a reasonable length.

      Everyone I know that has read the series also considers OotP to be the weakest of the 7 books. Still, being the weakest of that particular series leaves plenty of room for it to be pretty damn good πŸ™‚


  4. You can always send it for review by Big Al at Books and Pals… where that other author self-destructed. My goodness, what a /popcorn thread that was. But the reviewer seemed pretty good.

    BBB, if it would help, I’m pretty good at finding errors (kinda anal about it, actually) and an obsessive reader. I haven’t read CF cause I came in late and never went back to the beginning. I’d have a pretty fresh outlook on it.

    Although it may… no, definitely would have to wait till I’m done with the Malazan series.


    • That’s gonna be hard to say, since it’s on my MS Word, and all you gotta do is change font, typesize and borders to make it change dramatically.

      I think I’ll have a better feel for it when there is a Kindle version, or something to send to Lulu.


  5. The malazan book of the fallen, which have been mentioned earlier in these comments, is also based on roleplaying sessions… and that’s a great read. I for one don’t fear your word count! πŸ˜‰


  6. Stephen King has been quoted saying that a good revision = (first draft – 10%). So overwriting is far better than underwriting, and I’m sure that being well over any mental word count limit will pay off. Keep it up!


  7. “There is a difference between a book of 200 pages from the very beginning, and a book of 200 pages which is the result of an original 800 pages. The 600 are there. Only you don’t see them.” –Elie Wiesel

    You are badly in need of an editor. A good editor will slice through your blog posts, novel and other writings, eliminating words, sentences and paragraphs, pruning a good piece of work into a great piece. I’ve noticed that your writing is overly bloated and could be made much better simply by deleting about one-half of the paragraphs. I know it’s difficult to see your own writing edited like this, but it is necessary for every writer. Writers start with a big glob (first draft) and then sculpt, sculpt, sculpt it down. With your writing, you simply do not sculpt enough — not nearly enough.

    A good rule of thumb for any writer is to immediately remove the first and last paragraph after the first draft of a document. In the case of particularly verbose writers, such as yourself, they should continue to edit by removing from one-third to one-half of the remaining paragraphs. Believe me, your discipline in editing like this will make you a much better writer. But, if you can’t do it yourself, it’s okay. Many writers find it difficult to edit their own work. For your readers sake, just get a good editor to do it for you.


      • The advice actually isn’t terrible, but it’s definitely unfortunate that the author assumed you don’t know what you’re doing on the writing front. It’s fairly clear that they haven’t read anything you’ve written in the past about skipping the editing stage on purpose, since you’re writing a blog for *fun* rather than to produce tightly honed ready-for-publication distilled-down-to-its-essence material as a *job* πŸ˜›

        I do like the quote they started with though. It would actually be kinda cool if you did two versions – the current 100k+ word version, and then another where you’ve gone through the whole thing with a razor slicing out everything that you no longer consider essential, based on what appears later in the text. One of my favourite author stories is from a Q&A session with Richard Morgan here in Brisbane, where he talked about going over and doing a full re-edit of Altered Carbon when it kept getting rejected by publishers – even he liked the final version better than the version he had originally been submitting.

        Of course, if *you* don’t think carving through the text to create the abridged version would be a fun thing to do, then why would you take the time?


      • Oh, I didn’t think his comments on the importance of editing were wrong, or how they could apply to the story either. I thought it was pretty good stuff. Obvious stuff, and nothing I didn’t already know and were actually already doing, but, y’know, good stuff.

        I just thought it was hilariously written with an arrogant and condescending assumption that I somehow wasn’t aware of what editing was, or how it should be used.

        We’re editing my Converging Forces stuff now, right now as it happens. We’re working our butts off, Cassie and I, to begin transforming it from a series of isolated chapters written in varying degrees of tenses and roughly hewn logs of words into something approaching a cohesive whole. And along the way, my shortcomings in spelling and grammar are being addressed.

        Just speaking for myself, I think I do arright for not having ever had anything but the most basic education in english. My son is already past where my own education in writing ended, and he’s eight. Cassie just told me that she’s gonna have Alex sit me down and teach me how to use the apostraphe, since he has it down and I don’t. And thats undoubtedly an accurate statement. I just haven’t let that kind of thing worry me at all, not for stuff written fast and published for a limited group of friends.


      • Heh, I confess I initially just read the quote at the start, then skimmed to your post and thought you were overreacting. Then I went back and actually read the rest of it… I’d like to think of it as “good intentions, poorly expressed”, but I fear that may be overoptimistic πŸ˜›

        Back on point, a lot of formal English training is overrated – a reasonable chunk of what gets taught in schools is flat out wrong (often due to a particular regional dialect being blessed as the “right” way to do things at some point in the past, when it was really just one dialect amongst many).

        Language truly is a “learn by doing” activity, initially by reading broadly, and then by actually *writing* (as you do yourself, and admirably encourage others to do as well). That’s not to say there’s *nothing* to be learned from formal training, but browsing around the Stack Exchange for English would probably point a writer in the right direction more often than a lot of the so-called Style Manuals would.


  8. Very nice. I’m afraid of the length of the story that I want to write. So far, it’s plotted as six books and a prequel…

    So yeah, I’m all for big ol’ bearwalls. πŸ™‚


      • Oog, no kidding. I’ve started outlining it… like everything, it’s in my sketchbook. I have a private wiki for it, too, with a dozen pages of high-level stuff. I need to just stop blogging and write it already. πŸ™‚


    • Oh, it is intended to be a trilogy, but I wasn’t thinking of making something like the Wheel of Time. I was trying to be as streamlined and fast paced as I could.

      We’re about 4/5th of the way through book 1, which will have a very definite conclusion, not a cliff hanger. There will be a gap in time between the first and second books, a gap of no more than a couple of years. The second book will also start out with everyone in one place, no more twin storylines. You know… the forces will have converged sort of thing.


      • “I was trying to be as streamlined and fast paced as I could.”
        You are πŸ˜‰ The words “streamlined” and “fast paced” just have a different meaning for a bear like you !
        {ducks, hides, shield-walls}


      • No, you’re right. They do.

        By streamlined, I meant that I have been consciously trying to do as little scenery description as possible; I’ve tried to set the stage with some touches to give an impression, and then shift focus to the people, their thoughts, and their actions. When face to face in pen and paper role playing, I love to give lavish descriptions of the environment so people know what tehy have in the short term to use or be aware of, but I’m intentionally going minimalistic on description here.

        By fast paced, again, I’m trying to focus on the characters’ thoughts, understanding, intention, action, and resulting reaction. I am hoping that what you walk away with from the story are some memories of what the characters thought and did, and are perhaps left with a vague feeling that, okay they were in the forest for this bit, then the mountains, then they rode hard to a keep.

        I also hope that I’m spreading out the background and setting enough that it seeps in and becomes part of the flow, rather than something that you have to think about. That’s one of the reasons I’m trying like hell to NOT use fancy made up names and terms for things like magic or the soul or the process of what loremasters do. What I’m doing might be the wrong way to go, but at least I’m screwing up on purpose instead of because I didn’t know better.

        In the end, this first book is setting a number of themes and groundwork for a shitload of story, and I really want it to feel simple and easily understood, erring on TOO easily understood, so when shit starts building up and rolling downhill nobody gets lost wondering where the hell THAT came from. Much.


  9. Malazan tales of the fallen…..
    Wheels of Time
    Dragon Bone chair

    I have the impression that fantasy stories by default are longer – one reason might be you have to spend time in introducing the world. Keep going πŸ™‚

    Rauxis, chosen of CAT


  10. One of my favorite authors has a series going that is consistently 800+ pages (don’t know the word count). In the foreword to a spin-off ‘short story’ – which is about 300 pages – she mentions that when she delivered the manuscript to her editor, his reply was “You do know that most *normal* people consider 300 pages to be a full novel, don’t you?” πŸ™‚

    Write how you want, and use as many words as it takes to get the story across. If it’s good stuff, people will read it.


  11. When I first read your novel, I didn’t want to do it by reading it on a computer screen. I’m old-fashioned. I need a comfy chair and a cup of tea! So I printed it out….. so I for one am not surprised!


  12. Yeah, I wouldn’t sweat it. You’ll probably lose ~10-15% of that in editing. Most of the good fantasy novels out there now seem to reside in the 200k+ realm. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good short novel (hello Starship Troopers) just as much as the longer novels (WoT series, Riftwar saga, etc).


    • By the way in case you are wondering. Here are the word counts on his Wheel of time series

      Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan

      The Eye of the World: 305k
      The Great Hunt: 267k
      The Dragon Reborn: 251k
      The Shadow Rising: 393k
      The Fires of Heaven: 354k
      Lord of Chaos: 389k
      A Crown of Swords: 295k
      The Path of Daggers: 226k
      Winter’s Heart: 238k
      Crossroads of Twilight: 271k
      Knife of Dreams: 315k

      Total: 3.304M (official count)

      So write as much as your heart desires and we shall consume it with gusto!


  13. I would love to have a proper Converging Forces book in my shelf. IF some dumb editor throws it out, go to press yourself!!

    I don’t know how he did it but can ask if you’re interested: my brother got a book printed through some website that allows your to do the graphics style and get the pages right and all that (there’s probably a word for all that in English but I do not know it) and then when someone goes there and orders the book they print a copy and mail it to the person. You and the site split the money and there aren’t many overhead costs since they only print what they sell, so you don’t run the risk of getting into debt to print them and then be forced to use unsold books to line the walls of your basement πŸ˜‰


    • has a great service and they do all the distribution as well. You just advertise it they handle all the other stuff. I have a couple of friends that use it and are doing well. They can also do C.D’s and ebook formats.


      • I investigated LuLU years ago when I got started writing, and put it in the back of my mind. Years have passed, and I’m glad to hear tehy are still doing well. πŸ™‚


  14. Man, I can only wish to be that prolific, even in a first draft that will (almost inevitably) get shorter when you do a proper rewrite. The most I’vestede written on any one project is about 55k, and I never actually finished the damn thing, and now my files are all stuck on my non-working computer. -_-

    BUT! I am v. interested to read all 106k words of your epic. It might take me a while, but I’m going to do it, by gum!


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