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Tip Tuesday #97

If you didn't see the news yesterday, WriteOnCon has teamed up with The Reading Room for an awesome contest. Enter the first 500 words of a MG or YA manuscript for a chance to win $1000 and an author page on TRR site. Details here.

For Tip Tuesday this week, Phil Siegel sent in a neat tip related to word count goals. Phil blogs at A Time to Phil. This is the first time I've featured him so definitely drop by his blog for a visit when you're done here. He has some great posts on writing and publishing. Enjoy!

Tip Tuesday – Writing by the Numbers

This is primarily for plotters and people who like math and measurable goals. Writing a book is a daunting task, so I like to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Let’s say you’re writing a young adult novel, and your goal is 60,000 words.

-There are on average 250 words on a double-spaced Microsoft Word page with standard margins and 12-point font.

-Figure out how many chapters your book will have. I’ll use 30 in this scenario.

-Total words/chapters = Words per chapter. In this case, 60,000/30 = 2000 words per chapter.

-Words per chapter/words per page = Pages per chapter. 2000/250 = 8 pages per chapter.

When I sit down to write, I don’t look at my novel as one 60,000 word behemoth, but rather a string of 2,000 word, 8-paged segments.


Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where blog readers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.


  1. That's such a great tip Phil to make a manuscript not feel too overwhelming. And I'm going to use your idea the next time to keep a little better handle on my word count in general. I don't want to write 30,000 words or more that I know I'll have to cut. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  2. Hmm. I'm not organized enough for this. But it probably would have helped if I hadn't had several 10,000 word long chapters in my first few drafts.

  3. This is a great tip. Breaking it down this way makes a manuscript less daunting and emphasizes pouring in the power on a chapter by chapter basis. I had an online crit bud give me a similar insight recently and it's helped in dealing with my sidewinder-version of a rewrite.


  4. Ha! That's one way to look at it! I tend to break up my books in a similar fashion, but more to give myself a goal to write each day. I attempt to write at least one chapter a day, however many pages it takes. I think for me it's just a matter of having a sense of completeness when I got to bed.

  5. Cool tip. And it also helps keep your chapters short - nothing bogs down a book for me more than a chapter that just will not end.

  6. Sometimes I wish I were a number person, but I just don't operate with that side of my brain. Thanks though...^-^...

  7. Ah! That is amazing advice. I will definitely keep this in mind for WIP3.

  8. Great tip! Thanks! and I love that contest. Wow.

  9. Thanks for having me on your site! My first guest post. I should have it framed :)

  10. Great advice, Phil. I'm like Matt. Not that organized. And I have to laugh at Matt's word count for his early chapters/drafts. I don't think I can make mine that long if I try.

  11. Interesting idea. I've never thought of breaking it down by word count.
    Good advice, Phil!

  12. I'm a panster, but if I do become a plotter, that would give me some idea of novel length. I wonder if that's how people use those meters to show how far they are to their WIP goals on their sidebar.

  13. Nice article, thanks for the information.

  14. Oooh, segmenting. Nice. I do this a lot in my regular life, so it makes sense to do it in writing too. Great tip, Phil!