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Word Count and Benchmarks

David Gane
David Gane
1 min read

I love word counts because they give such useful information.

For example, after a week of writing, I am able to average about 445 words (or 1.25 pages) every 15 minutes, or 1700 words (or 5 pages) an hour. If I was to write a 90,000 word novel, then it would take me between 51-55 hours of writing a first draft.

This information can also be used within my writing. If I know my act structure, and I decide, for example, to build it into 24 chapters, then I know that the word count for each chapter will be around 3750 words, or 10-11 pages each.

I also know that if I only ask myself to write for an hour each day, it will take me just over two days to write that chapter. I would likely call it three days, so that I have a chance to revisit what I have written, before I move on.

That also means that I could do two chapters every week, and be done in 12 weeks, or 3 months. Not bad to consider I am only making myself write for an hour each day.

If I felt that I must, I could even break up the chapter into its four or five beats, and spend the 35-45 required to write the beat, then allowing myself to rest and consider the next beat.

It is methodical and seems to take the fun out of the writing. Yet, for me, it takes the pressure away of considering the whole story. I am able to focus on the present moment of my character that I am dealing with in the story, and not the detail that is at the end of a chapter I am not working on.

It also helps track my progress and let me know where I stand. If I am running behind, then I know that I need to adjust, and if I am ahead, I can breathe easier.

Finally, I know that it counting words, minutes, and chapters is not for everyone, nor should it be. It is simply my strategy to focus, and keep myself and the work in control.


David Gane Twitter

Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.


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