Counting Pages


Imagine your a novelist.

You have carried around a story in your head for almost an entire decade, but have been unable to write it. There have been several attempts, rewrites, false starts, and even one successful but aborted attempt. Life interrupts throughout all of this, making any attempt to sit down and get the damn thing onto parchment impossible.

You know the story covers about a year of time, encompassing four seasons in a familiar but alternate landscape. You want to see your story as short series of graphic novels -- four to match the number of seasons. You know that the seasons probably won't divide easily, but that's not your reason for selecting the length: Four books just feels right. 

And then you sit down and start running numbers. The first three books will be some 120 - 150 pages, so you agree on an average of about 137. The last book will be longer, almost 200. You decide to be ambitious and say 199. Okay, so you add it up: 137 * 3 + 199 = 610 pages.

610 pages.

Before you let the implication of that number set in, you decide to subdivide each book. A chapter runs about 23 to 27 pages. 25 on average. Divide. Average. You arrive at an estimate of 24 chapters.

610 pages. 24 chapters. 

24 stories. "Make bigger stories from several smaller ones," you recall from A Drifting Life. Use the smaller stories to resonate or explore the larger arcs. You look are your setting. Your characters. Subdivide. Take those subdivisions and explore them. Follow the characters as you look at that avenue. Is it interesting? How does this reflect on the overall theme?

Stop! Wait! you think, You can't possibly build a story like this! 

Or can you?