Being a writer, more specifically a novelist, the concept of word count becomes a really big deal. The Godslayer was 62,679 words when it was released, which in print equated to somewhere in the 270 page range. That means it wasn’t a long book, by any means, but wasn’t short, either. It was just kind of average. When writing in longform you often times find yourself tallying up your words. Be it how many words you wrote today, how many you wrote last week or how many you have all total.
It seems silly to most people, but to me reaching that finishing stretch of a novel is an amazing feeling and is inspiration to get that final push in. This past week there have been two things that have been sticking out in my mind; word count and naming. My current novel that I’m working on, which for now I’ll just call “Gaia” is at 47,064 words. The actual name that I’m using (hint: not Gaia) is surprisingly new to me and I’m not even sure that I’m going to stick with it. See, over the weekend I went pretty crazy writing and got a lot done, most of it good! The kind of stuff that you read back again and want to keep, not delete and forget all about.
When you write novels that is pretty rare.
For those who are unaware of how word count works in a novel, depending on the typesetting there will be anywhere from 200 – 250 words per page. That means that right now I have between 188 and 235 pages, give or take. I consider myself to be more than halfway done, although I’m not quite sure yet. See, word count is important, but at the same time you don’t want to be writing with word count in mind other than “write at least 50,000 words.”
This brings me back to naming. I hate naming. I’m not sure why, but I hate naming. Sometimes it is natural and it flows, other times it isn’t and it sucks. You want to avoid using names of people that you know because, well, writers tend to write about people that they know and having a name that you are familiar with might just mean that you’ll continue to give them the characteristics of their real name counterpart. We don’t want that.
I tend to just throw whatever name that I can think of in and hope that I come up with a better one in the future, with hopes of doing a “Search and Replace” for that awful, awful name later on. At this point I feel alright about the names of the characters in my book (kind of, I guess), but the title of the book itself, the planet and the starship are all up-in-the-air right now. Why? There is so much to consider.
I’ve already made it clear that I’m writing a science fiction novel, I hope, but when it comes down to science fiction naming conventions are almost impossible. We (as in humans) tend to err on the side of using Greek or Roman mythology to name planets, so that is always a great place to start. The only problem is that many of them are already used or, if they aren’t, they are extremely generic sounding. I like the idea of Gaia, the mother of life, but at the same time, the name has been used and overused over the years to where I’m not sure I want to touch it.
Brushing up on my mythology was not part of the research that I had planned for this novel, yet I found myself over the past few days pouring over mythology to not only come up with a good name for a planet, but a name that is unique. The only problem with this is, well, I’m building this universe and maybe I should be reaching for something that is symbolic to myself, not with convention. Trust me, I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I’ve come up with a bunch of different names, but I’m not quite sure that any have stuck just yet.
The good thing is, I’m thinking about naming and naming always comes near the end of my process. Now I just need to finish, edit, edit some more, send it to someone else to edit and, well, there’s a lot left.