I got some more writing done today on the novel. I’m up to 35110 words, which is an increase of 1606 words since yesterday.
Posting my word count here on the blog has been really helpful in motivating me to keep plugging away at this. But I’ve started thinking about the phase after the initial draft, the editing and rewrites, and have been wondering what was going to keep me going through that.
Then I realized that my background in validating microprocessors (i.e. finding bugs in the design to help drive up the quality) had some similarities to editing a novel (finding problems to drive up the quality), and started to think about some of the indicators I used in my old life to see if they could be applied here.
The first one is similar to a bug rate indicator. Currently, there are:
9 open issues
2 resolved issues
These are things that I know I’m going to need to address in the rewrite stage. For example, I have what I call the “human G-name project”. Somehow I ended up giving three of my main characters names that start with G. There’s no good reason for that, and it will surely confuse readers. So I’ll need to rename two of them.
There’s an art to interpreting bug-rate style indicators, but in the general sense, I’ll be able to track the rate of new issue discovery and rate of issue closure, and tell some things about the velocity of the project, and once some trends start developing potentially figure out when it will end.
Next, I know that I tend to skimp on fleshing out details, have a tendency to skip over action scenes which I know I’m weak at, and relate plot developments by having characters talk about them rather than actually relating them to the reader directly (which isn’t always bad, but I think I tend to do it too much). I looked at my word count per-chapter, and it’s really low. I did some google searches, and read some indications that 2000 to 2500 words per chapter is a common average. I only have one chapter over 2000 words, and some much shorter. While short chapters can sometimes be appropriate, I suspect I can use my per-chapter wordcount as a first order approximation in terms of telling me where I need to beef things up. I’ll start tracking that here on the blog after I finish the rough draft (which will hopefully be soon). I ought to be able to make a nice stacked line chart related to chapter word length, which will hopefully be useful.
Part of my philosophy of management is that people love to move their indicators, so if you pick good indicators you have half the job of management done. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some good ones which will help me get my novel done, to a proper novel length, with high quality.