What’s the Secret Formula?

On Fridays we go live. Visit my Facebook page to join us and ask me some questions while I read a few pages from one of the G&B books.

The third question I get asked, and not nearly as often as the first two, is if I have a formula. The answer to that one is yes, I certainly do. It is my secret to finishing a novel. My first consideration is word count. Eighty-five thousand words makes for a nice novel that fits well into the industry standards. It seems a lot of aspiring novelists think they are just going to start writing and it will start where it starts and end where it ends. But the reality is that a novel that is too short is a novelette, or essentially a long short story. The opposite is a novel that is too long. At a point, around 90,000 words, the novel starts to get expensive to print. If you write a 150,000-word epic, the book is going to be expensive to print, ship and publish. While our novels are a labor of love for us writers, books are a matter of overhead and profit for publishers. Eighty to 85,000 words will result in a book that is big enough to look like a book and cheap enough to publish that it can be sold at a price where people will buy it and there will be enough left for the author to realize some royalty. Remember while you are writing, the printer, the publisher, the shipper and the distributer are all going to get their shares before you are. Keeping costs down is always a consideration. That’s just a fact of life for writing and bears consideration.

So, what is the secret formula? Thirty 2,700-word chapters are going to give you an 81,000-word novel. Adjust accordingly: fewer chapters with more words each, or more chapters with fewer words each. When I hit 55,000 words, I start working toward the ending. By then I usually have chapter notes to the end anyway, so it is a straight shot. That’s a pretty simple formula to work off of.

I’m Dying to Know…

Every Friday I go live on my Facebook and answer questions and read a little of one of my books. If you have anything you’ve ever wondered, drop me a line on my page!

The second question I get often is if I outline my stories before beginning to write. And the answer is yes, I do. But my outline is generally scribbled on papers stuffed in the back of my desk, notes that I’ve been jotting down for months before I even get started. By the time I begin writing, I have a loosely organized idea where to start and where I’m going. As I write, my outline progressively gets abandoned and I begin making notes in a .docx in the folder where I keep the book chapters while I am writing it. As one chapter after another is written, the notes get assigned places in them. By the time I’m halfway through with the book I have the chapters mapped out with notes on each one, all the way to the end. They get switched and tweaked a little along the way, but by the middle of the book I have a pretty good roadmap to the ending. So in a loose sort of way, my books go from outline to notes to outline.

Any Questions?

Every Friday, I go live on my Facebook and answer questions from friends, fans and readers. Stop by my page to ask me anything you’ve ever wondered about writing a book, self publishing, or even what the guys’ favorite beer is…

When people talk to me about my books, a couple of questions come up almost every time. The first is if I set aside a certain time every day dedicated to writing. I answer that no, I don’t have to. I think that the most important aspect of writing is knowing what you want to write about and have somewhat of an idea how you want to get there. I do sit down most every day and write, but not because I have set aside some time in my day to do it like it is some kind of chore; I sit down most every day because I have a story to tell and I enjoy telling it. I want to write every day.

Stay tuned for more frequently asked questions.