Browsed by
Tag: creative writing

Harry Potter and the Tyranny of Word Count

Harry Potter and the Tyranny of Word Count
…when we sit down to write a book

OK I admit it, I put the Harry Potter reference in the title as link bait. Well almost. Take a look at the word counts for each of the Harry Potter books:

  • The Philosopher’s Stone – 76,944
  • The Chamber of Secrets – 85,141
  • The Prisoner of Azkaban – 107,253
  • The Goblet of Fire – 190,637
  • The Order of the Phoenix – 257,045
  • The Half-Blood Prince – 168,923
  • The Deathly Hallows – 198,227

That’s a lot of words, and it illustrates the mountain an author contemplates when we sit down to write a book. Until recently, the length of The Prisoner of Azkaban was pretty much industry standard — 100K words is an economic sweetspot for printing and distribution. Lengths seem to be drifting down of late, because there’s no economy of scale for ebooks.

Who knows? Perhaps we’ll one day return to the sanity of the 35K-word 1970s pulp?

But thirty-five thousand words is still a lot of words!

So it’s natural to look at the project, divide target word count by available days and use that as a measure of progress.

Read More Read More

Results of a Writing Retreat in Tangier, Morocco

Results of a Writing Retreat in Tangier, Morocco


My local produce seller, a farmer from one of the villages in the Rif


When the writing gets tough, the tough writers go to Tangier…

One of the advantages of living in Europe is that you have North Africa right at your doorstep. Sadly that region, with all its diverse cultures and beautiful landscape and ancient sites, has largely become a no-go area. Algeria and Libya are war zones and Tunisia and Egypt are highly unstable as well. That leaves Morocco, a safe and stable country that’s drawn me back several times to use as a writing retreat.

As I mentioned in a previous post about Living in a Moroccan Medina, I regularly go to the northern port of Tangier to get away from email and editors and take some time to do some serious writing. Not only does the city resonate with literary giants of the past like Paul Bowles, William S. Burroughs, and Mohamed Chukri, it also provides inspiration in the form of a large traditional medina, fine views over the Strait of Gibraltar, and a growing arts scene.

So what does a Canadian writer living in Madrid work on when he’s in Morocco? Read on. . .

Read More Read More