Friday, March 31, 2017

Ideas for Writers—April Holidays, Special Days & Downright Crazy Days

Ideas for Writers
by Edie Melson 

It’s time again for Calendar Days. These are just fun to read. They’re also a great way to jumpstart our creativity when looking for ideas for articles and blog posts. They’re also a fun writing prompt idea. 

In addition, calendar days are great conversation starters for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. This month is  especially fun for writers because of all the writing/reading related holidays. How many can you fine? Be sure to leave your guess in the comment section at the end of the post.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Working With an Editor—3 Things I Learned

Edie here. Today I'm excited to have an author friend of mine, Leigh Ann Thomas, joining us today. Her newest book has just released — just in time for the wedding season! I persuaded her to stop by and share some of her own insights into publishing (and give me an opportunity to introduce her book). Be sure to give her a warm Write Conversation welcome!

3 Things I Learned Working With an Editor

by Leigh Ann Thomas 

We’ve attended a writers conference, met with a publisher, and garnered interest in our book idea. The proposal and manuscript is complete, polished, and sent. A contract is offered and joyfully signed.

Now what?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Story is Worth a Thousand Words—A Word-count Primer for Authors

by Eva Marie Everson

It’s not unusual for me, as the president of Word Weavers International, to receive an email with a question about “lengths.”
  • How long should a chapter be?
  • How long should a section of a chapter be?
  • How long should my novel be?
  • How long should my work of nonfiction be?

The answers are as varying as the number of websites and Pinterest pins dedicated to writers and/or the art of writing.

So, let’s break it down a little.

As a writing coach, I typically suggest that chapters (whether in novels or works of nonfiction), hit only about 2,500 – 3,500. I find that once chapters hit over that length, the reader gets weary. Even if the writing is superb. I believe this is because we’re a generation of “hurry up.” Everything comes in snippets. Every few minutes, a commercial break. Every few blocks, a red light.
Case in point: Twitter—a force of social media—only allows 140 characters … and has its own style of storytelling called “twitterature.” Short. Fast. Easy.

Easy? Hardly.

“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” This quote has been attributed to a number of famous writers from Mark Twain to George Tullie. No matter who said it, the truth lies in the line. It’s more difficult to write “short” than to write “long.”

Ask anyone who has written a short story (2,500 – 5,000 words / under 7500 words / 1,000 – 7,500 words*), or a short-short story (500 – 2,500 words), flash fiction (1,000 words), a dribble (50 words), a drabble (100 words), or—brace yourself—the six-word story.

As someone who writes (typically) long fiction (100,000 words), I thought when I was contracted to write a Christmas novella (God Bless Us Every One, Abingdon, 2016) that creating a story between 17,500 – 39,999 / 17,000 – 40,000 / 20,000 – 50,000 words would be a cinch.


I’m only grateful I wasn’t asked to write a novelette (7,000 – 25,000 words / 7,500 – 20,000 words / 7,500 – 17,499 words).

According to some lists, novels are divided into two- up to three-sections.
  • Paperback: 35,000 – 80,000 words
  • Hardback: 35,000 – 150,000 words
  • Novel (both paperback and hardback): 40,000+ / 50,000 – 110,000 words
  • Epics: 110,000+ words

As for children’s books, the breakdown of word count can be equally as complicated.

Some board books (books for very young children with cardboard “pages”) have as few as 16 pages and as many as 24 pages, while picture books can run from 32 to 48 pages. But, the most common answer you’ll find when it comes to the question of picture books is “32 pages.”

How does that translate to words? Again, there are a number of answers. Some references say 500 – 1,500 words, while others break it down further:
  • Ages 5 – 8: up to 1,000 words
  • Easy Readers (up to age 9): up to 2,500 words
  • Chapter Books (up to age 10): up to 12,000 words
  • Middle Grade Novels (up to age 12): up to 25,000 words
  • Young Adult Novels (ages 12 and up): up to 45,000 words / up to 80,000 words

Finally, for nonfiction writers, word count ranges (and boy does it range) from 20,000 – 200,00 words. (No, that’s not a typo). This broad scope is due to the wide range of subgenres within the nonfiction genre. Gift books, etc. will lean toward the fewer number words while biographies will lean toward the higher number word count.

A couple of years ago, while writing Five Brides for Tyndale, I realized I would easily go over the 120,000 words they’d designated for the novel. I panicked, called my editor, and waited for the “self-edit” lecture. Instead, she said, “Just write, Eva. We’ll figure it out from here.”

The book ended at 123,000 words and, by and large, they kept every word.

I was quickly reminded of when I’d written Waiting for Sunrise (Baker/Revell, 2011). My contract called for 85,000 words. I easily flew past the number, called my editor, waited for the “self-edit” lecture, but instead was told, “Just write. We’ll slice and dice.” I ended at 100,000 words, sent in the manuscript, and waited. A few weeks later my editor called and said, “We want more words!” The book ended at 110,000 words.

The moral of the story isn’t “just write,” although that’s a good one. The moral is, “every book calls for its own number of words” and “each publishing house is different.”

Use these figures as a guideline, but ultimately, you’ll want to ask your editor for their word-count guidelines.


*Word counts vary depending on the source.

Best-selling, award-winning author Eva Marie Everson is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and the contest director for Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Her latest novel, The One True Love of Alice-Ann (Tyndale), releases April 1, 2017.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Intro to Instagram

by Bethany Jett @BetJett

If you’re a writer, there’s a good chance your readers are women (even James Patterson says the majority of his thriller genre audience is female)[1], and there’s a great chance those women use Instagram.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

5 Steps to a Novel Contract

Edie here. Today I'm so excited to introduce you to debut novelist Elva Cobb Martin. Her first book, Summer of Deception, released yesterday. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom to see the details. Blessings!

by Elva Cobb Martin 

Here are the five steps in a nutshell for those of you who may have a baby crying, or your washing machine walking across the floor, or something burning in the kitchen. . .
  1. Never Give Up
  2. Hone Your Craft
  3. Attend Writers’ Groups and Conferences
  4. Help Other Writers on Their Journey
  5. Learn How to Submit to Editors and Agents

You Recommended Us and They Listened!

Back in December I asked you—our loyal readers—to take a minute and nominate The Write Conversation for the Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers.

All your generous emails and comments paid off. I'm excited to announce that The Write Conversation made it!

The magazine his arrived for many contributors but it hasn't yet hit the newsstand. Nor has the web version of the list gone out. But as you can see, we have the pictures that show we're in there.

You all have been so loyal as we've tweaked things, changed things, and gone through some tough times. It's an honor to serve with the amazing contributors who selflessly share their wisdom about the publishing industry. 

Many thanks & blessings from all of us!
The Write Conversation Crew

The Write Conversation #writing blog is on the 2017 Writer's Digest 101 Best Website for Writers (Click to Tweet)