Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Blame the Software

I've discovered that Word 2010 on the PC counts differently than Word 2004 on the Mac.

When I word-count my terrible novel on my PC at work (on my lunch break, obviously!), it's almost 500 words more than when I word-count exactly the same document on my Mac at home (after working hours, obviously!).

I suspect it's largely to do with hyphens, since Word 2004 (at least for Mac) appears to count hyphenated terms as a single word, while Word 2010 (on a PC, at any rate) counts them individually.

I must have used a lot of hyphens. Somewhere around 500 of them, perhaps, just taking a wild guess here.

But that's only one reason this novel is so bad.

Some time ago I had put a hold on a book at the library called How NOT to Write a Novel, and it would perhaps have been helpful if it had gotten to me before today. Because I'm telling you, I'm pretty sure I did most of the things this book advises against.

Well, maybe not the frequent, confusing changes in POV. But all the stuff they say to just cut out because it's boring to read? That's pretty much all the stuff I have.

The problem is, I had no story idea I cared about. Right from the beginning, I was just throwing words around to fill pages, not to convey anything about any particular idea or character. And then I got bogged down, trying to keep going along the same general path, thinking sooner or later something interesting would have to happen...but no. I should have tried shaking things up or striking off in some radically different direction (I should have actually introduced the packs of wild dogs!), but I got attached to continuity.

Continuity of dullness.

So you gotta have a story. That's what I have learned from NaNoWriMo this year.

Oh, I'm going to get to 50,000 words and technically finish the marathon. I haven't clawed my way to 42,000 just to quit now. I'll have 50,000 words of almost utter boredom, and perhaps it will somehow be a learning experience  for next time.

The lesson will be "don't even start unless you care at least a little bit about something that is going to happen in that darn story."

Also, "something interesting does not have to happen. Sometimes it's just boring all the way down."

Anyway, back to the Word counting issue, my obvious concern now is, which method does NaNoWriMo use? Because I could be done about 500 words sooner if it's counting like Word 2010, and at this point, that sounds pretty good to me.

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