Targeting Your HTML

I thought I had blogged on this before but Blogger is being difficult, and I can't find the post. So I'm posting (reposting?) for reference, as there are some bloggers out there that still need to learn this lesson.

For all examples in this explanation, we are going to use [ and ] but when you write the actual code, you should replace them with < and >. Here is how you make a hyperlink in your blog post.

[a href="URL"]Site Name[/a]

Ta-da! Now users can link to a website from your site, and that's super nifty. There's only one problem. When they follow that link, they leave your site. You don't want readers to do that, especially if they're not done reading what you posted. The goal is to keep users at your site while providing them all the entertainment and information they need. You are an Oracle, a font of wisdom, but they'll never learn that if you're sending them elsewhere.

So what do we do? We target the hyperlink. There are various targets that have various applications, but in this situation, we only care about one of them. You want your hyperlinks to open in a new tab/window. (Whether it's a new tab or window is up to their browser settings so you don't worry about that.) How do you make the link open in a new tab/window? Like so:

[a href="URL" target="_blank"]Site Name[/a]

You don't need any punctuation to separate commands, so don't go adding a comma or anything. Write it just like I have it above and the next time someone follows one of your links, it'll open in a new tab, leaving your page still available to them so that when they're done reading what you linked to, they can easily return to your own content and continue to learn from your wisdom.

So let us practice:
[a href="" target="_blank"]Penny Arcade[/a] becomes Penny Arade once we replace the brackets with angle brackets.

Click on that link.

Welcome back! I assume that you read the comic and possibly a number of other archives but eventually you closed that tab and look, we're still here!



And there you go, kiddies. Now go forth and hyperlink correctly.

Words to Delete

I used to be a podcaster. That's like public speaking except in private and with a record that people can reference years later. For that reason, there are certain words one needs to eliminate from one's vocabulary to improve at public speaking. The biggest culprit is "ummmm" and "uhhhh" which we tend to default to when we're thinking of the next thing to say. You can recognize who has public speaking experience (and was good at it) by the absence of these words even in their mundane conversations. Those are not the only words you should work to eliminate:

There is one more word I've eliminated from my vocabulary, though this has nothing to do with public speaking. It's one of those life lessons I came about the hard way and that, if I had a child of my own to pass it along to, would do so that he or she might escape that same hard lesson.

I do not use the word deserve. If I use it in my writing, it is a big red flare for the character of the person using it. I do not deserve a raise. I do not deserve a prize. I do not deserve your respect.

I earn those things. Or I do not. The only thing I am deserving of is an opportunity to earn.

I'm Famous!

I don't read erotic romance, but that doesn't make Roni Loren any less cool. We have a great rhythm on twitter where she posts a blog entry, people comment, she says "Go check out the controversy!, and I go see one person disagreeing with her. I then wag my finger at her for hyberbolizing controversy (she should be a Washington reporter) and we both smile and keep doing what we're doing.

Well today, she has a guest blogger...ME! So go check out the controversy!

Also, her first book CRASH INTO ME is coming out soon, so buy it if you like erotic romance. I'm told its both super nifty and keen.

Why are you still reading here? Go! Now!

Why Oh Why? Oh Me. Oh My! (...times seven)

It's hard to keep track of topics when you're on a variety of soap boxes. I've written in two different live journals, hosted a podcast, and now how this blog/journal. Sometimes you think you've written about a topic when you haven't. Or, you think you've written about it in one place when really it was in another and no one is going to see it. Today's post may or may not be a redux. I'm not copying/pasting, but I know it's at least a topic I've covered on the PodgeCast, so we'll call it a redux nonetheless.

I have been pondering the rewrite of HELP WANTED: CHOSEN ONE for awhile now. An agent who read the manuscript suggested I change the main character from Nashau to Bastin, the latter being more energetic and overall more likable. I was unsure of this, because the story I was telling was most certainly Nashau's, but since I already had multiple POVs, it seemed a better way to hook the reader into the overall story. Once I made some cuts, I saw that he was right.

But something happened when I changed the main character. All of a sudden motivations I never had to explain to the reader became necessary. And those motivations seemed pretty thin. You might get away with a second character coming along because of a curiosity or amusement or the adventure of it all. Main characters need more depth than that and Bastin was my main character. So I needed to articulate the reasons he was doing what he was doing.

Now, keep in mind, I'm not making up excuses for why he's doing what he's doing. If you get to that point, your plot is too thin and you need to back up and really take a hard look at things. You should never make excuses for your characters. They do things and they do those things for the reasons they do them. You may feel it, like they do, but given enough time, you should be able to adequately articulate the psychology behind it without making an excuse. If you ever say "just because," you are required to slap yourself in front of a mirror. If your reasons make someone's eyes roll (especially our own), you have to let that person slap you.

But you don't want to be slapped! Neither do I. So it's best we find a way to articulate our characters' motivations. How do we do that? you ask. We ask the Why Tree.

The why tree is not some ancient being of untold knowledge, it is the question "Why?" asked over and over and over again. (I generally recommend seven times for those people that need a rigid number to properly implement such a stratagem.) Write the question why then draw a line to possible answers. Draw a line from those answers to another question why and so forth seven times. The ever expanding list will take on a Christmas tree-like shape. It's a Why Tree.

Bastin is my main character
Bastin will participate in the quest the prophets claim he is chosen to complete
To make amends to his adoptive father
Because he betrayed his adoptive father
He was young and dumb and didn't trust anyone
His mother was a prostitute and he ran with a street gang
His mother died, leaving him on the street
She had no family to care for him and didn't know who his father was

This has given me all the information I need. When the prophets coming looking for the descendent of a famous count, I have a con man who also doesn't know who his father is. He may or may not be the actual chosen one, something to reveal at the end.

It also gives him the motivation to pursue this quest if you throw in a well-placed "How?"

For all the whys, the HOW? is the really important question. How does all this stuff influence Bastin so he decides to go on this quest? And that's what was stumping me on this rewrite. What was Bastin's motivation that he would risk his life? Amusement? Boredom? May play for a secondary character, but you need something better for a main character. And that's when I keyed on to his adoptive father. I already show Bastin trying to make amends, repaying the money he stole that landed Jin in debtors prison where he eventually died. The thing Bastin can't do, however, is restore Jin's reputation. But here he is being offered a chance to participate in a prophecy. All he need do is tell people it was Jin that did the deed instead of him and all of a sudden, boom! reputation restored. The one thing he cannot do he now can. This doesn't just offer him motivation, but the level of emotional attachment to brave dangers without quitting and an end goal that is worth the risk.

Get excited!


Because this story is gonna rock your face!

A Quick Tutorial

It's Memorial Day here in the US, a time to honor those that have served in uniform. We have parades. We grill. We post on Facebook that we honor their memory. What I'm finding, however, is that people don't know how to properly refer to America's armed forces. I see a lot of "in memory of our soldiers" and what have you. Here's a quick list so you don't make this mistake in your writing:

Army = Soldier
Air Force = Airman
Marine Corps = Marine
Navy = Seaman/Sailor

So when that person posted saying he was remembering soldiers, he was only remembering army personnel, which must be a bummer to all the others. (Marines in particular bristle at this mistake because Marines are Marines and they're always Marines.)

A trend that started during our invasion of Iraq is to support the troops! We have replaced armed forces with troops, which is also incorrect. A troop is a grouping of forces (originally at company size, so troops might refer to a battalion or two).

If you want to refer to the armed forces as a whole, call them such. Servicemen/Servicewomen is also acceptable. Or distinguish based on their individual calling if you don't have a mixed group.

If you're genuine about wanting to honor their memory, this little courtesy will help show you mean it.


So there's a lot of chatter on Twitter lately about blog designs and website builds and etc etc. If you have not been to my website, this is the minimum level of quality I expect for a user-created website. Blogger and like services are expanding their styles to blend the boundaries between blogs and websites, but for the moment, I continue to contend they serve two different purposes. There are different graphical designs and interfaces that best accomplish those purposes, and as such, the two should be separate entities. I am in the minority on this one. Most new authors and aspiring authors seem to think blogs are enough. Established authors have blogs integrated into their own sites, so either way you get a single-platform delivery, though the latter is an achievement that most of us could not do and most services do not make easy for us (or if it's easy, it's not cheap).

I saw a really nice website today and my first thought was, "How pretty. Too bad it's crap."

What what? Why is it crap if it's pretty. Well, obviously, something could focus on its esthetic without accomplishing its purpose as a platform to introduce users to you and your work. In this case, its splash page was covered with Flash animation. Now, me being of a certain age, I was on computers when the internet first became available to the public at large, so things like Flash animation still dazzle. I didn't just build personal pages in Geocities. I used Angelfire too. These are the old build-your-own page and fill it with animated gifs and blinking fonts sites. Flash? Super awesome compared to the way things were.

Unfortunately, Flash has not evolved fast enough. While you may not be thinking about it now, you need to start thinking about mobile delivery. View your site on an Android and/or iOS phone and see the difference. For me, unfortunately, the template service I used to build my site does not offer fill scripting functionality, so I have to (*shudder*) use tables to format the page to look the way I want it. Tables no worky on mobile platforms, which is why I'm formulating a redesign in my brain. The thing is, Flash no worky either. Sure OSes like Android and WebOS claim to have Flash functionality, and to a degree this is true. But it's not full Flash. It's a mobile Flash and Air support and both are reportedly buggy.

When you do all those snazzy things on your site with Flash like have your name come swooping in front the side? Unless your site is specifically coded to adapt to users that don't have Flash functionality, your name is missing from the page. Or worse, you get a big ass question mark because your phone lacks the necessary plug-in to run the animation. You want your website looking in tip-top shape in any format a user may view it in.

So when next you contemplate a redesign to your site and perhaps think on splurging a little for some professional work, here are some things to think on:

  • No Flash
  • NO tables. None.
  • No frames except for iFrames. Old-style frames are like tables except scroll bars appear at the edge of them, meaning you may have a scroll bar in the middle of your page, which looks dumb.
  • iframes are okay. iframes aren't like old-style frames. They're a little pop-up window that pops up within the page. It looks like a Flash animation but is actually JavaScript
  • If the producer is capable, make the build HTML5 compliant. Capable or not, they should be working with JavaScript (js) and cascading style sheets (css)
  • No files necessary for your site to function (such as .js files) should be hosted on the produces server. Get that thing for yourself and host it with the rest of your site. You are fully autonomous. If they flake out and delete all their content they ever worked on, this should not affect you in the slightest.
  • No audio/video auto-play. Only emo teenagers auto-play music.

The Five-Step Procedural

I do not write mystery/thriller, so I have no idea if what I'm about to say applies to the written word. That kind of question is better served by Jennifer Hillier. But it was the procedural drama that ended my 5-year hiatus from television1. Now the best procedurals on television today (or at least over the last decade) keep their freshness by exploring new facets of their characters. The crimes (and overall plot) follow a predictable format each episode, which can help you figure out the whodunnit before the end of the show2.

Step 1: The Crime - Show us the body. This may even include the actual murder, but usually is a "slice of life" moment where a woman or a couple stumble on a body and the woman screams. This is the piece you get before the opening credits. Also the first bit after the credits where the medical examiner arrives, takes liver temperature, tells you time of death, and the investigators point out any clues that you need to keep in mind for later. This is a lot of telling not showing...or would be if it wasn't television where they're showing you everything.

Step 2: The Science - Cue musical montage, quirky lab techs, and lots of pseudo-medical jargon that makes real medical professionals roll their eyes (or occasionally applaud in appreciation of the accuracy). This is also where criminal professionals cringe as what is happening might be scientifically possible but not in that time frame or on their budget. Lots of computers and flasks and analyzers. If you're watching NCIS, they'll have the body cut open and you can see a few internal organs. This is where the people that don't carry guns (unless you're on CSI) start telling you a bunch of stuff that basically narrows the focus down to only a few possible suspects. This is also when the people who carry guns (same people if you're on CSI) interrogate people and get their first suspect.

Step 3: The Twist - Oh no! Newfound evidence provides an alibi for primary suspect. New information comes to light that changes the motive of the crime, calls into question the victimization of the corpse, or in some way broadens the scope of the investigation so that everything has to be questioned again. Boss person or hot head detective/investigator will lose his temper here. He'll posture, maybe hit his fist on the table and threaten. But witnesses will all point fingers at each other so now anyone can be guilty. Whatever shall we do!

Step 4: The Chase - We have the break in the case we need! Grab your guns and your cars and let's go drive recklessly! We will not call for backup or in any way coordinate with the local squad cars or if we do, none of them will be able to accomplish anything other than chasing us or possibly hitting a parked car and flipping upside down. There may be a foot chase or a gun fight. Someone might get nicked. If you're one of the good guys, you might look like you got shot, but don't worry, it only hit your vest so get back out there! Oh, you were too slow. The villain got away. But the chase revealed the information you need. Now one of you knows the whodunnit. You're not going to tell anyone else, though, because if you didn't orchestrate the person's capture and then reveal their identity Scooby-Doo style, how would any of your peers know that you're better than them?

Step 5: The Capture - Through guile and wit, you trick the villain into a carefully laid trap, not only apprehending the criminal, but eliciting a confession as well. Criminals are the talkingest people out there. Shut up and get a lawyer. A lot of the time, their evidence is purely circumstantial and then you go blabbing and do yourself in (a la every episode of Monk or Psych3 ever made). Finally we get the reveal and it of the non-main characters you've met this episode. The criminal is NEVER someone you haven't met before because it makes the entire thing seem like a total waste of time. If you haven't had a chance to try and guess, that's cheating. It breaks the unspoken rule between viewer and procedural drama that you should have the chance to guess before the villain is revealed. (Every so often, it's a double-twist where the original twist-causing witness is in fact the villain having sent the investigators on a wild goose chase.)

And thus, justice is meted out over our fair city!

1 So I quit watching TV in 99 and totally missed Firefly and the West Wing. I saw both on DVD and worried I had missed other awesome programming (I had not). Then I saw a commercial while I was at Burger King for a new show called Numb3rs. This looked awesome. I bought some rabbit ears for my TV and checked it out. I then saw "Call of Silence" from season 2 of NCIS and was totally hooked. I devoured TV for awhile until I got bored with almost all of it4. NCIS seemed the only procedural that cared more about its characters than the crime (or at least it did until Shane Brennan took over then that show went to crap and I stopped watching).

2 Unless one of the good guys becomes the bad guy. This will happen at the end of season 2 or 3 or if they last, around season 7 or 8 to reinvigorate the franchise. Oh no, didn't see that coming! If a case goes unsolved, it will either be a recurring villain used for multiple season finales (or mid-season breaks) or it will be one of the investigators.

3 Don't get me wrong. I love Psych and own every season on DVD but most of those criminals would go free if they didn't confess.

4 I still watch Castle every week. That's the only show I make sure to watch weekly.

Anything but Perfect

I'm working on a new wip and I think I've made a few mistakes in the opening chapters. Specifically, I've introduced the romantic interest a little early maybe? Or maybe I did not. I'm not quite sure yet. And you know what? It doesn't matter. Well, it matters a little based on where I go next with it, but in the long run, it doesn't matter. Why? Because I'm writing a first draft. There is a simple rule for first drafts: finished is better than good.

The purpose of the first draft is to build the framework of the house, not to build yourself a mansion that gets showed on MTV's "Cribs." It's going to suck. It will always suck. You don't publish your first draft. Never publish your first draft. You need to publish something that is mind-blowingly awesome and that is not your first draft. If you try to make something mind-blowingly awesome with your first draft, you will never finish.

All of you, I would wager, have done this when you first started to write professionally. You wrote your introductory chapters. Then you revised them and wrote a few more chapters. Then you went back and revised again. And again. And again. You just needed to get it right and that would make the rest of the book better. It was an investment, you would tell yourself. If I can make the beginning perfect, then I won't take any wrong turns later on.

Your first draft is anything but perfect. Accept that and soldier on. Don't revise the chapter you just finished. Write the one that comes after then the one that comes after that and the one that comes after that. At some point you'll get to the end of your story and then you can go back and revise.

Writing a manuscript does not make for an awesome novel. Revising a manuscript makes for an awesome novel.

Comments, Questions, Criticisms

We've all seen the blog posts and Tweets by agents of the horrible responses some queriers send them a rejection. It can be fun to rubberneck such responses, watching the car wreck that is that person's nonsexistent career and wonder What were you thinking?

That's a no brainer, though. I assume none of you would think such a reply appropriate, but there's a more subtle trapping that more authors (well-intentioned authors) fall into. Having recently received beta comments for JEHOVAH'S HITLIST, I had to mentaly prepare myself for criticism. It's like running a marathon. You gotta be in shape!. You have to be ready for someone to criticize your work and then thank them for it.

Here is a general rule of thumb: YOU WILL NOT BE PRESENT TO EXPLAIN THINGS TO THE READER. Occasionally a detail might be missed, but for the most part, if your beta reader points out something that didn't make sense, this is not the time to explain it. You missed that chance. Now is the time to fix YOUR mistake.

If your writing cannot communicate what you want it to without further input from you, then it's wrong.

Now, that's easy to accept when reading a blog, but just as easy to forget when receiving criticism. When someone offers constructive feedback, your first response is THANK YOU. They may not be right. They may be. But yours is not to defend your novel but to revise it to be the best that it can be.

So to train for feedback, go through mental exercises. Remind yourself that the goal is to get good feedback not for the beta reader to love your book. You want the world to love your book and an important step toward that is fully accepting and implementing feedback.


The Rhythm of My H--Fingers

I wrote today. By itself this is not a big deal. I write a minimum of five days a week. Near the end of JH, I was writing seven days a week1. But I had a powerful flu that caused me to do not much of anything but sit on the couch under a blanket and watch TV2.

I went back to work yesterday, but just didn't have the energy on the train to write. Hell, I barely stayed awake. I read on the way in and the way home. This morning, though, I made myself take up the keyboard and give things a try. I was in the middle of a chapter and was worried I'd struggle to find the rhythm, so the sooner I started, the sooner I'd figure things out.

The good thing is that I was able to remember where I had been headed and finish the chapter. I even wrote a few things I hadn't expected. But it reminds me how important rhythm is to the way I write. There was a team building exercise we did in my fraternity called a rock pull. Take an 800-1200 pound rock from the local quarry. Drop it off 1.7 miles away from the house. Drill three holes and install ribar. Tie off ropes that lead to three logs. Each log is wide enough for four people. This was the pledges' rock. They'd stay on the logs the entire time. The other spots (we were a small house) were filled by active members. Everyone was on the rock. Look at the things you could accomplish as a team that you couldn't accomplish on your own.

Now at some point during the pull, you'd want to take a break, but you couldn't take a break. It was a thousand times more difficult to pull the rock from a stopped position than while you were moving. As long as the rock was moving, you could keep going3.

It's the same with writing. It's so much easier to keep going than to stop and start. The rhythm propels you forward. In those instances where you have an extended stop, I recommend skipping back a few chapters (never start over, that's just a whole mess of trouble that violates the rules!) and read. Read your own work until you find the rhythm and can press forward. If you just start back up where you stopped, that break may become noticeable.

Few of us have the luxury of writing a book from start to finish without interruption. The key is to make it look as seamless as possible.

1 I'm actually trying to tone that down. My wife was starting to get annoyed with me going out weekend mornings so we never had breakfast with one another. I'd like to start using my weekends for hobbies that have fallen to the wayside. Problem is, I love writing so much that it always feels like more fun.

2 A streamed a few new movies on Netflix that I had never seen before. "Bottle Shock" was a great movie with Alan Rickman and Chris Pine. We also watched seasons 1 and 2 of Angel and season 1 of Psych on DVD (which we own and have seen repeatedly). Like I said, it was a powerful flu. Lots of time in front of the TV.

3 There was a scheduled break half way there. To my pride and pleasure, no pledge ever fell off the rock in the years I was there. Only one member ever refused to pull and his dickitude has already been illustrated in a previous post here.

The Hardest Harder Part

You'll often hear that this or that is the hardest part of writing a book. Writing a good beginning. Writing a good first sentence. Writing the middle. Writing the end. Rewriting. Revising. Querying. Being rejected.

The thing is there is no hardest part, just harder parts in relation to other parts at that moment. In my opinion, the most challenging part of a novel is actually the middle. However, the hardest part for me right now isn't the writing at all. It's the fact that I have a regular job with obligations and paychecks and etc etc. I have 4000 words or less to write before this thing is done, and I have to stop so I can go into the office and work on someone else's book.

I don't want to work on someone else's book! I want to work on mine dammit!

It would be nice if you could write a good first sentence and think to yourself, well at least I'm past the hardest part. But you're not. You're past that part, and while it may be harder than the part you're on now, there's other hard parts still to come. And once you're done, the waiting is the hardest part.

Testing Your Mettle

One WIP at a time. There's a reason I have that rule, a very important reason. When you're writing your novel and things get hard, your imagination is your worst enemy. When people talk about ideas of how to get inspired, they're ignoring a greater problem: only writing when you're inspired. You need to be able to write even if you're not inspired. There are going to be entire chapters that don't thrill you. You just have to slog through. If you only write when you're inspired, you'll finish a tiny fraction of your proposed manuscripts.

Things were kind of tight on Thursday and Friday for my WIP. So what happened over the weekend? I had ideas for THE RED SOCK SOCIETY, THE SEVENTH SACRIFICE, and WHAT'S BEHIND THE CROOKED DOOR? I was incredibly creative on every project except the one that needs my attention.

Why? Because inspiration is easy. If I write to inspiration, I'll die with a thousand half-finished novels. No, I need to pocket those other mss for when their time comes and buckle down on the one that has 50,000 words and needs another 50k so it can be complete. I want to finish this thing so I can start work on one of those others and finish that one and so on.

It is the substance of a writer that he can write. Period. Not write when the mood strikes him or when it's easy. You understand your craft and you can take it to the appropriate conclusion. New ideas are like will-o-wisps. It's easy to get lured off by the exciting and easy, but when you've sated your writing enthusiasm on this new wellspring, you find yourself standing in the middle of a swamp, sinking in the mire of incomplete work.

Focus. Prove your mettle. Finish what you started. There will be time for the next work when you're done with this one.

Minimum Word Counts

When I lived in St. Louis and began to finally put genuine effort to a career in writing, I began the Third World, an epic setting required of every major fantasy author. To that point, I did not read critically. I read what I enjoyed and read for enjoyment. I did not stop to ponder word choice or sentence structure, pacing or plot. I just read. And because of that, I just wrote.

I wrote chapters for the story of that chapter and gave no thought to reader fatigue1 or for that matter writer fatigue. Both CAUSE AND CONVICTION (originally titled THE END OF BLISS) and A CIRCLE OF CRIMSON STONE have chapters that are 10,000 words long. So when you look at the Queue and you see a word count of 40,000 words, that means that book only has 4 chapters written.

Shortly after this, I joined my first writers' group. The response was the same as everyone else's response would eventually be: shock. One chapter is 10,000 words?! Are you crazy? That's so long? Is it? I didn't think it was. Perhaps it was just a difference of genre. They wrote thriller, sci-fi, women's paranormal and...well, not sure about the last lady. But none of them wrote epic fantasy. So clearly mine was more appropriate for my genre.

Was it? I was sure I had read plenty of epic fantasies with similar word counts. But there would only be one way I could know for sure. I went home and pulled books off my shelf. Martin, Williams, Rothfuss, and others. All epic fantasies, the bellwethers of word count. 250k minimum per manuscript. Then I did a cast off2 on a sampling of chapters in each novel. I got the evidence I needed.

The average word count was 2000 to 2500 words per chapter. In the monsters of the genre, the chapters were still only 1/4 the size of the chapters I was writing. Instead of having 25 chapters, they had 100 or more. So, in my next work, I decided I'd try writing shorter chapters.

My next work was BLACK MAGIC AND BARBECUE SAUCE which ended up with chapters as short as 500 words, though most averaged about 2000. This proved to be a good move on my part because--as you can imagine--writing 10,000 word chapters can be exhausting. So now, as a rule for first-draft writing, all my chapters will be 2000 words long (minimum). This has been a great yardstick to use. 1100 words and I'm not fleshing out the scene enough. 4000 words and I've included too much back story. 1800-3300 words seems to be a great sweet spot.

This is also why I'm able to write in order and so quickly. I write 1000 words on my way into work. I write 1000 words on my way home, completing one chapter. 5 chapters--10,000 words--a week, and in 2-3 months, my novel's first draft is complete.

1 It's a weird psychological effect, but readers don't seem to handle long chapters well. They get mentally tired and want a break. Even if they don't take a break from reading, a chapter break seems to reset the internal clock, give them a sense of advancement, of knowing the story is moving toward its end. I could take the same ten-thousand word chapter and split it into two five-thousand word chapters, and the response from readers would be more favorable toward the latter. It's weird, but I've found this to be the case regardless of region or reader level.

2 The whole 250 words/page thing? Yeah, that's crap. That's the metric you use in a meeting when you're asked for the total page count and you haven't done a cast off yet. If you want a quick but accurate measure of how many words there are per page, you take a book of like design (you may not realize it, but books have different interior designs allowing for greater or fewer words per page), and do the following. Find five to ten pages that have a fair balance of dialogue and description (not all description and not all dialogue). Count how many words appear in the first five or six lines and divide by the number of lines. This gives you a word-per-line average. Then count the number of lines on each page and divide by the number of pages: lines-per-page. Divide the total word count by wpl average. Multiply this result by the lpp average and that is your projected page count.

There are ways to get even more precise page counts, but this one can be done in 5 to 15 minutes and is accurate enough for our purposes. For adult fantasy, the word count per page is closer to 300 to 350 per page rather than 250. Over the course of 100k-250k, that extra 100wpp can make a big difference.