Big book. 300,000 words to do it right.

Figure a good, rich scene runs 2500-3500 words on average. Say 3000 words for convenience’s sake. That’s 100 full scenes.


First, I need to finish breaking out the issues and interactions and conflicts for each of my themes. Give myself a full 5-day week to work this out.

Then, working from the theme break-out:

  • 100 scene cards and Sentences Lite—figure 20 a day as a GOOD day’s work.

5 days, or one work week.

  • One week of schedule padding. 
5 more days.


300,000 words in 260 work days (12 months, 5-day weeks, 4.3-week month)
1153 words per day.
300,000 words in 130 work days, (6 months, 5-day weeks, 4.3-week month)
2308 words per day.
2500 words per day.
  • Acknowledge that even if I can find people to hire to cover all the other stuff that I need to have done so that I can focus on writing, I’m going to have to spend some blocks of time (probably one full week a month) on other commitments—things that ONLY I can do. That’s 30 working days gone over a six-month stretch. I can either add words to the daily count, or accept that I’m going to have to add an extra six weeks to my best-case schedule.

300,000 words in 100 work days, (6 months, 5-day weeks, approx. 3.3-week months)
3000 words per day.
300,000 words in 200 days, (12 months, 5-day weeks, approx. 3.3-week months)
1500 words per day.

  • I’ve done 3000 words/day before without breaking a sweat. Of course, I’ve done it before while driving myself absolutely crazy, too, so there’s no guarantee. But that’s what I’ll figure. 3000 words per day, and figure on a best-case first-draft completion date of November 2nd, 2009, and a WORST-case first-draft completion date of May 3rd, 2010.
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5 responses to “The Book Math for DREAMING THE DEAD”

  1. Holly Avatar

    Hi, Steph,

    This book is the reason that I killed myself for about 8 months writing the Think Sideways course—I had to create a way to pay the bills while I wrote a book that DOESN’T have a publisher, and that may not sell, but that I have to write, and that I want to write completely BEFORE I attempt to sell it. Actually, “C” was the project that drove me to do the course, but then I had the idea for “Dreaming the Dead” and it was even better… So now I have TWO books that I’m writing out of love and mad passion and sheer insanity, and the fervent belief that I’m good enough at this that if I write a book that contains no compromises—that is the flat-out utter best I can do—I’ll find someone who loves it as much as I do and who will publish it.

    It’s a risk. It’s a helluva risk. I’m hoping that writers keep signing up for Think Sideways, because that’s my safety net against having to take a contract, and all the compromises that go with it.

  2. steph-osborn Avatar

    Ok I want to know what publisher you’re using for a book with that word count! I have a 240K book that’s the first in a series (it’s that big because it contains the origin story as well as the first adventure) and can’t find a publisher ’cause it’s too LARGE! It struck and I wrote the rough draft (still 215K words) in 2 months, pouring through me. And some say it’s some of my best work yet. I want it out there!

    He’p me! Pwease!

  3. BJSteeves Avatar

    Wow! Very ambitious schedule. Following your blogs and writing for more than a few years, I know what you can do when you put your mind to something, and I have seen you do projects like this before.

    I’ll be rooting for you all the way. I can’t wait to read it!

  4. TinaK Avatar

    Oh God Holly – I have missed you writing. This is a wonderful post and I wish you luck with finding someone who can help with all the admin stuff so you can get back to the work of writing.

  5. vanity Avatar

    3000 words per day… Wow, that is a lot (at least by my standards). I like to do the maths from time to time as well, but it’s quite difficult keeping up with the pace, so perhaps having a worst and a best case to finish somewhere in between is indeed a good idea.

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