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BEHIND THESE MOUNTAINS VOL. I

Tuesday

3-6 Words to Pages + Book Lengths

(c) 2010 Mona Leeson Vanek

The boundaries of word count to published story or book fluctuate. Every writer can cite examples that violate the following word ranges. However, below are the word counts a writing group member recently came up with, derived from the number of times the question about story and book lengths was asked by writers, from various articles and conferences, discussions with agents, agent blogs, and those self-help books that all writer's love.

In general:
Flash Fiction, 1 - 500 words
Short Shorts, 501 - 2,000 words
Short Story, 2001 - 20,000 words
Novella, 20,001 - 50,000 words
Novel, 50,000 - 150,000 words (For first-time novelist, best to be 60,000 -90,0000.)
Big novel - over 100,000 words (a significant investment by the publisher)
Epic Novel - 150K+ (Think "Lord of the Rings", "Gone With The Wind", etc.)

Manuscript page count is relatively unimportant, since it is word count that seems to drive the whole process. If you're using courier new font, divide each of the above by 250 to get the number of double-spaced pages you would submit. Actual publication pages will vary depending upon how the book is typeset.

Words to pages = book size
Each publisher usually has a formula for determining the number of words per manuscript page and how that translates into words per printed page for that particular publisher's template(s), but a given formula won't necessarily be accurate in relation to books published by a different publisher.

One set of writer's guidelines I received from a publisher gave the following approximations of how many words = how many pages:
  • 30,000 words = 107 typed pages, 104 printed pages
  • 40,000 words = 142 typed pages, 139 printed pages
  • 50,000 words = 178 typed pages, 174 printed pages
  • 60,000 words = 213 typed pages, 208 printed pages
  • 70,000 words = 248 typed pages, 243 printed pages
The variation from publisher to publisher, and even from book to book within the same publishing house, depends on several factors:
  • Book format (the same exact book in hardback and paperback rarely have the same number of pages.)
  • Book dimensions (an "oversized" paperback or "softcover" can get more words on a page, given the same font size, than a "pocket book" or standard paperback-font size. Publishers also use a smaller font size as the page count for a popular book increases.
  • Text formatting. Bullet lists and tables use fewer words than continuous paragraphs of text. Also, whether there are photos, drawings, etc., inline in the text.
Title page, dedication page (optional), preface, contents, acknowledgments, and section title pages (optional) count as part of manuscript length.

None of the above figures should be taken as hard and fast rules, but rather as rough guides.
End

Advice FromThe Pros: http://writerinsidertips.blogspot.com/

Chapter 8 - Newsgroups, Forums and Reference Desks: http://tinyurl.com/36guoob

Next: 3-7, Let Writing Careers and Writers and Artists Glossary Terms Enhance Your Vocabulary:
http://tinyurl.com/24xpowt

3-3 Critiquing How-To

(c) 2010, Mona Leeson Vanek

Critiquing is to meant to help us learn more about what works, and what doesn't work in writing.

It's not always easy - but, with a bit of care you can critique writing.

Basically, critiquing involves the following:
  • Paying attention to what you like do and what you don't like about the writing -- not about the topic or the style of writing.
  • Are you bored?
  • Interested?
  • Does the writing flow smoothly, or does the reader stumble?
  • If it was hard to read, why?
  • Were the sentences poorly constructed?
  • Was the plot unclear?
  • What might have worked better?
  • If you didn't like something, identify clearly what you didn't like. Write notes to prompt your comments.
Remember to critique the story, not the author or the topic.
Examples:
  • Sometimes I simply note how many times a particular word is used -- such as "I" "would" "had", etc.
  • Pay attention to tense shifts, ("were" and "is" are different tenses)
  • Discern the "theme focus statement" because it tells me what the story is about. I like it to appear fairly soon, so I'm not left to wonder what the point of the article or story is.
  • In fiction, I'll watch for clues, hints of what's to come, and I love twist endings!
  • Phrasing your points.
    • If you make a point gently - the author is more likely to listen. Try to be diplomatic. (On the other hand, don't be so gentle you fail to make your point.)
  • Remember to mention the story's good points.
  • State your impressions.
    • If several critiques make a point, the more seriously the author should take it.
The key to being a good critic is to be an intelligent reader. The advantage of critiquing (beyond returning the favor to the people you hope will critique your own stories) is to help us learn more about what works, and what doesn't work, in writing.

Never take the attitude "How dare you say that about my work?" Critiques are meant to improve writing -- not to criticize the author.

Receiving critiques is hard - it's not fun to have people point out problems in our carefully crafted work. Expect that sometimes people miss the point, and that not everyone likes everything. However, if more than one reader (or listener) misses the point, there's a strong likelihood that the point isn't well made. And if several people don't like the work, think carefully about the content and about where your readership will be. Think "market potential"

How you deal with critiques is your business - you can ignore them, or take them seriously. Don't argue over points; arguing has the potential to create hurt feelings. If you attack a critique, you discourage people from critiquing again. Remember that this person is spending valuable time trying to help you with your writing.
  1. It is not productive to try to justify your work or to explain it. Your story must stand on its own once you offer it.
  2. If something needs to be clarified, then change the story to make it clearer.
  3. Remember, you won't get the opportunity to explain the story once you mail it to an editor, or after it's been published.
If you do have questions about a critique, if you'd like more information, then feel free to ask. Your intent should be to explore this point further, not to challenge it. Discuss the fine points of someone's advice in detail ONLY if you feel the subject matter is relevant to writing in general.

If you choose to ignore a critique, you do so at your own risk. Maybe the critique was wrong; maybe not. The critique may be off target, but still show some deficiency in the story.

Examples of crits that are helpful to writers
Suggesting places to tweak or strengthen a story\article:
  • Overall, this is an interesting piece with a great deal of potential but I think the quotes are overabundant and they overwhelm the details. (Suggestions of places for improvement should be included.)
  • This is beautiful, but I think you need to tweak it more. I hear what you want me to hear, but it isn't coming across clearly. My perception is that you want me to see [xxx] but in some ways you [xxx] (be specific -- refer to your notation.)
Pointing out things readers might also want to know:
  • This is really a good idea and very informative. Why not add some personal anecdotes to go along with each point? (Give anecdote example, or tell where quotes can be obtained that will be pertinent to the article.)
  • I love the gentle way you go back and forth between [x person] and [xx person]. My only suggestion is this -- as I read your piece I wondered a bit about [xxx]. Maybe you could gently give the reader a bit more details in this area.
First reaction crits:
  • As soon as I read the title of this piece, my first impulse was [xxx].
  • Something's wrong (state where -- here's where your notes will help you pinpoint the place for the author to rework.) 1. It doesn't read smoothly; 2. I just couldn't figure out [xxx].
Market suggestion crits:
  • This article would work well as a [xxx]. But to be a [xxx] I think it needs to be a little [xxx] with more [xxx].
  • This reads well and fits with what I see in [xxx] magazines and books on [xxx] topic.
Beginnings and endings:
  • I'm not a fan of sentences ending in: "of" or "from". I would rearrange them. (This sort of crit is sometimes applicable to sentence beginnings: "but" "however", [xxx].)
Grammar and other errors:
  • This was out of my area of understanding, but I didn't notice any errors in grammar. It read smoothly and seemed fine -- Or I heard [xxx -- a specific error -- see your notes] and that didn't sound right to me.
  • [xxx] sentence is way too long and needs to be broken up.
A really tough comment to make -- but a very helpful one for the writer to know (often applicable to romance writing or personal essays):
  •  Something is missing here, some vital key, and it may be something too private for you to put down on paper. As a reader, I do want to know more about the narrator and those parts of her life that do not directly concern the other person involved, but shape the narrators interaction with that person. (or -- I would like to know a lot more about the narrator and [xxx].)
There are many critiquing services and groups online. The best interactive critiquing is enjoyed by members of Internet Writing Workshop, http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/index.shtml.

Search, howto critique at, http://www.dogpile.com/ and http://www.msn.com/.

Be as kind to other writers.
End

Chapter, 2: Careers and Marketing, >http://tinyurl.com/332rlsw

Next: 3-4, Interviewing to Write Profiles: >http://tinyurl.com/35ecn6p

2-2 Tools for Writing Online

*NOTE: The following material is for educational use only and may not be used for any other purpose and may not be published in any format due to the nature of releases I've secured from website owners.

(c) 2010 by Mona Leeson Vanek

Writer's Toolbox: 35 Best Tools For Writing Online, by Paul Glazowski, was published on MASHABLE.com on December 13, 2008 http://mashable.com/2008/12/13/writers-toolbox/. Nicely organized, Glazowski's list of resources provides links to many tools, some of which are free. You'll find WordProcessing, Blogging, Microblogging, Jotting Ideas, Social Networking, Jobs and Employment Resources, Book Fairs/Shows, iPhone Apps, and under Other Resources, much more helpful information.
End

Advice FromThe Pros: http://writerinsidertips.blogspot.com/

Chapter 4 - Writers Guidelines and Magazine Calendars http://tinyurl.com/2v6ej46

Next: 2-3, Make Tiny URLs: http://tinyurl.com/27xvwfy

3-2 Publishing Letters

(c) 2010, Mona Leeson Vanek

US Copyrights spell out the laws governing letters, old and recent in, http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.pdf *(See Chapter 5.)

For instance, WWII letters would fall under "Works Originally Created Before January 1, 1978, But Not Published or Registered by That Date." (see pg. 5 and 6 of the pdf). The actual legal text can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/25rj37p. Legally, these letters are copyrighted for 70 years after the author's death, so you would have to get permission from the letter writer (or more likely, the letter writer's heirs--if they can be found.)
End

Chapter 5 - Copyrights, Previously Published Works,and Using Quotations: http://tinyurl.com/38t4xpd

Next: 3-3, Critiquing How-To: >http://tinyurl.com/3ywx8xm

2-3 Making Tiny URLs

(c) 2010 Mona Leeson Vanek

First, open your Internet browser and go to http://tinyurl.com/. Add it to your Favorites.

Then, when you need to convert a long webpage address into a shortened URL, put your mouse on the line at the top of your screen (the http: of the webpage on your screen.)
  • Right click to highlight the URL.
  • Select Copy to put a copy of the URL on your (invisible) clipboard.
  • Go to Favorites and open Tiny URL. (http://tinyurl.com/.)
On TinyURL.com, paste a copy of the long webpage address into the box.
  • Click on "Make tinyURL." (If your browser asks permission to access the site, allow it.)
You'll get the new shortened URL link that you can Copy and Paste that URL into the message where you want to share it with someone, but don't use punctuation marks or it won't work.
End

Advice FromThe Pros: http://writerinsidertips.blogspot.com/

Chapter 4, Writers Guidelines and Magazine Calendars (under construction)

Advice FromThe Pros: >http://writerinsidertips.blogspot.com/

Next: 2-4, Electronic Publishing:

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