The Path To Publication Step Six: Before You Write Your First Draft

Today’s the big day, or so you think. You’ve planned, outlined, and you’re rearing to go. That’s great! But, you still have a few more things to do before sitting down and starting the novel that you’ve dreamed about for the past month.
One thing I suggest you do before starting your first draft is to look at my Becoming a Writer Series, especially the post about setting up your writer’s spot. You’ll need it before starting your novel.
Another thing to do before starting your novel is to sit down and look at how many words you want to write. This varies from book to book, and genre to genre. Here’s a rough estimate:
Picture Books: 32 pages, or 500-600 words
Middle Grade: 20,000 to 55,000 words, depending on the target ages of the readers
Young Adult: 55,000 to 80,000 words, though you may want to be careful when you get up in the seventies and eighties
Adult: 70,000 to 100,000 words, depending on the genre
(Note: I got all of these facts from an article in Writer’s Digest, but I have seen similar information elsewhere. Check out the original article here:
That is my quick guide to word count. Also note that your first draft may be shorter or longer depending on if you tend to write more than necessary or less than needed, and can change during the edits. For example, with my current MG (middle grade) novel, it’s at 37,000 words, but since I tend to underwrite and leave out description, I estimate it will gain about another 3,000 or 4,000 during edits, which is a healthy size for my genre and target age group.
Now that you know around how many words your novel is, you need to figure out how much you want to write each day, when you don’t want to write and have a day of rest, and how long it will take you to write your novel. For instance you may be writing a YA (young adult) novel that you estimate will be 60,000 words. You need realistically to look at how much you can write a day, and what days you want to take off. I suggest you at least take one day off a week, to get a little rest. Say you have work or school, and can only write 500 words a day. That’s okay! And you decide to take Sundays off, meaning you write 3,000 words per week. Divide 3,000 (how many words you write per week) into 60,000 (how many words you estimate your novel will be), and you get 20. It will take you twenty weeks to write the first draft of your novel.
That’s all for today, stop by Wednesday where my new partner Katie will be talking about characters!


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