In my experience the 10k word stage of a first draft is both a strange and challenging time.
For my stories, reaching 10k words is like entering the Bermuda Triangle, some come out the other side, some take a completely new course and some are…never seen again.
Over the years I have come to fear the 10k word stage. Things never go to plan and for me there is always some sort of creative heartbreak. As my word counter clocks 9,500 the new characters of my first draft will be casting me worried glances (they will have listened to the rumours from my other characters about the dreaded ten thousand word stage), my heart will be pounding and dark shadows will have started racing across the walls.
I would rather battle through the fictional wasteland of 20k words, struggle through the plot quicksands found at 40k and endure the explosive stage at 50k words, when resistance is busy chucking writer doubt hand grenades at you, than journey through the Bermuda Triangle of 10k words.
A lot happens at 10k words on a first draft and that’s why I thought it warranted a blog post.
So, here’s what I encounter at 10k words:
Early Mechanical Failure.
At 10k words you have a good idea about whether the story has potential. Sadly some stories will experience early mechanical failure at this stage and sink in front of your eyes.
First draft honeymoon island is just a dot on the horizon.
Once you get to 10k words with your story the first draft honeymoon phase is well and truly over. All the excitement, passion and hysteria you found on first draft honeymoon island is now a distant memory. The sunny island of literary fun is a dot on the horizon. You are in new territory and things have got serious.
Shiny new story idea pirates.
As you journey through the choppy waters of 10k you will come under attack from shiny new story idea pirates. They will get inside your head and lure you onto their boat with promises of excitement and literary thrills. Shiny new story idea pirates have really attractive boats which you will want to board. This is because your first draft has become familiar and lost its sparkle. Once you board the boat of a shiny new story idea pirate you can wave goodbye to your first draft.
The dangerous mists of story doubt.
As you sail into 10k words territory expect to experience the dangerous mists of story doubt. They will engulf your literary vessel and make it harder for you to see where you are going. You will start to doubt your story and things will become confusing. Why should you carry on when all you can see are grey mists of doubt?
As you can see things are tough at 10k on a first draft and this is why I dislike the stage so much.
Do you struggle at 10k words?
Take care out there writers. For goodness sake stay away from those shiny new story idea pirates!