Thursday, July 2, 2015

Z is for Zero

Debra talks about starting a project.

Is there anything scarier, more overwhelming, and downright nerve-wracking than staring at a blank computer screen at the start of a new story? Page count: zero. Word count: zero. I mean, there's just so much pressure to get started. That first blank, white page will need to be filled with words. Top to bottom. And then another one after that. And another. And so there's only one place to start. We type 'Chapter One'...and now, magically, we're no longer at zero. Now our word count is two. The page isn't blank anymore. Soon (hopefully) we make it to the bottom of the page and our page count moves to one. Eventually those zeroes we started out with turn to bigger numbers and we are able to see the progress we're making. But starting out can be mighty intimidating. Because filling those pages isn't enough. Once they're filled, then we need to edit them, and polish them, and send them off and keep our fingers crossed our editor will offer us a contract. And pray we won't have a big fat zero in our sales column.

On the other hand, is there anything greater, more thrilling, and downright exciting than starting a new story? Page count: zero. Word count: zero. Just pages of endless possibility stretching before us. Sometimes we aim for that zero to turn into a specific word count or page count. Sometimes we simply track our progress as we go, and our story grows, and we tell it how it needs to be told, using as many (or as few) words as necessary until we reach the HEA. Our pages could go from zero to one hundred or zero to four hundred. Our words can go from zero to ten thousand or zero to one hundred thousand. Numbers with lots of zeroes at the end. And once we're finished we edit them, and polish them, and send them off and keep our fingers crossed that after our book is published we get lots of zeroes right after the number next to the dollar sign on our royalty checks.

Yep, at the beginning we always start at zero. And it's amazing to see how far we go from there.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!



  1. I love the possibilities when starting something new.

  2. Love the contrast between the fear and the exhilaration of being at page count zero.

    1. See? Personal experience helps us show our characters with a whole range of emotions...sometimes all at the same time! :)

    2. That's a great observation, Debra! Must remember how we (and our characters) can feel a whole spectrum of emotions at the same time!