If you’re prepping for next month’s NaNoWriMo marathon, the best advice I can give you is not to waste words and be prepared to do a lot of rewriting.
Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is no small feat. NaNo 2012 is where Blaze came from. But when those 30 days were up and I had to get down to the business of self-editing and rewriting, the first thing I realized was how much junk I had put in it. In pushing myself to crank out that 1,667 words per day, I had inadvertently filled my pages with redundant dialogue, excessive description, and just plain wordiness, all of which turns readers off.
Very little of that original draft remains now, for as many revisions as I have put it through, and while I have slashed the excess, I have also added new scenes and extra bits here and there that help to flesh out what I’m trying to relate. This past week, I finally passed the 80,000 word mark; for a fantasy novel, that’s generally the minimum word count you’ll find. There is more revising to come, I assure you. It might even make it to 90,000 or more.
The truth is, there are standards in the publishing industry, and we would all do well to honor them, even if we don’t adhere to them religiously. If you want to go the route of traditional publishing with an agent and a big firm, word count will be very important, and it varies with your genre. (See this page for details.)
So regardless of what you’re writing–or when–be mindful of how long your finished product will ideally be. That rough draft doesn’t have to be there. In fact, I would say it’s easier to add to a manuscript than to pare it down. A friend of mine has been ruthlessly trimming away the fat from her novel so that more agents will give it consideration, while I, on the other hand, have needed to add more and more scenes and backstory and foreshadowing here and there throughout, which has steadily grown my novel nearer where I want and need it to be.
Best of luck! If you are participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, leave a comment below, or share your badge when you win. I’d love to hear about it!