Not Found

I have a funny little writing habit. Well, I have a bunch of them, but one is this habit of writing BOOKMARK anyplace I need to come back to the text to clean something up, add a scene, or pick up with tomorrow’s writing. That way, I can just search “bookmark” and find the next thing I need to work on. When I get into the last phases of a project, I can jump to the top of a document, do this search, work on that bit, search again, and keep doing this until I reach the end.

Inevitably, I’ll add one or two BOOKMARKs for every one I clean up. Which means the last few weeks of revisions and edits will see a dozen or more of them. When I get to the end, I can jump back and find that I still have a lot of work to do. I whittle away; the draft improves; I move on to the next BOOKMARK.

Until I do a search, and I see the following screen:

Not Found! And then I know I’m just about done. A full and complete rough draft of DUST now exists. 114,502* words, which should grow by a couple of thousand as I do the next two passes from beginning to end.

So that’s it. I should get my next two passes in this weekend. On Monday, I’ll fire it off to editorial (I.E. my wife, mother, and David Gatewood) and work on their suggestions while I’m on vacation. This is the home stretch, which means it’s almost time to start a new novel! And finish the fifth Molly book!


*Incidentally, when I first put up the word counter for DUST, I pegged it at 120,000 words. I moved this down to 100,000 while I was on book tour, as it saved me a minute with the calculator every day. I could just look at 54,000 words and know that was 54%. It looks like I’ll have a finished size of 116K – 117K, which is the length of a MOLLY FYDE novel or two SHIFT books. It feels like the perfect length to me.

22 responses to “Not Found”

  1. Exciting stuff Hugh! That’s got to be a cool feeling. I guess you just can’t write a book about a secret society of book-hiding silo-dwellers who leave ‘bookmarks’ around the silo as a means of covert communication. That, or you’d have to come up with a different code word for your drafts.

  2. So after you’ve whittled it down and have fixed all the bookmarks it’s actually going to grow again? So basically you do a draft, whittle it down to “bare bones” and then elaborate again on the last passes?

    On a more general note; I can’t wait! I’m in a bit of a good-books drought and can’t wait to finally start reading a book again that I *know* I’m going to enjoy :)

    1. I deleted 20,000 words over the past two weeks, and yet the manuscript stayed the exact same size. I would set aside chapters, rewrite, and then not bring the old back in.

  3. That’s a great technique to both mark your progress and success!

  4. What would you do if your novel was about, *gasp*, books and bookmarks? And that word was used a lot? You’ll never be able to finish that novel!

    1. I’ve had the word “bookmark” in three stories thus far, and it drove me NUTS every time! (My very first novel was one).

      1. Andrew Lieffring Avatar
        Andrew Lieffring

        You could probably throw a soft-hyphen into literal instances of “bookmark” so that they didn’t show up in a search.

  5. Silly question so forgive me. But are you typing the word “bookmark”? I’m writing my next work in google docs and it has an insert bookmark feature. Your MAC doesn’t do that? Not meaning to offend just curious.

  6. Very nice little tip, have to use that one. Thanks.

    And as for the teaser screen shot of DUST…darn you Howey. Darn you to heck.

    And who did the art ot the new site? I’m digging the cleaning suit being taken apart by Nano’s. Awesome.

  7. I do something similar, actually. For me it’s usually asterisks, since I almost never have occasion to use an asterisk in normal writing.

    1. Same here, using «ÆÆ», a combination of letters never to be used elsewhere, not even in languages where Æ found in the alphabet.

  8. A thousand Congratulationsss, Hugh.

  9. I really love that you’re writing faster than I’m reading.

  10. Wow, thanks for the pointer Hugh! That actually seems like a fantastic idea and I think I’m going to steal it :) And I’m so freakin excited for Dust I can hardly help it!!

  11. Actually, you could just make sure to all caps your reference bookmarks and then select match case when you do your search

  12. I always used brackets in Microsoft Word […] and I
    Once I moved to Scrivener, I tend to use the annotation feature and the Document Notes to save my questions. Hugh, not sure if you’ve ever tried it but it’s free for 30 days. It helps so much with organizing all the various stuff.

    1. I bought a copy. Been too busy writing to suss out how in the world to use the thing! :)

  13. Violet Graves Avatar

    What a great idea with the bookmarks. I’ve been highlighting in red and that’s kind of annoying. I’m going to do this bookmark thing. And AWESOME that DUST will be in our hands very soon :)

  14. Congratulations, and thank you Mr. Howey! Your fantastic series has gotten me addicted to scifi again after a long drought. Eagerly awaiting the rest of the series!

  15. Thanks for the tip, Hugh.

    Like everyone else, I can’t wait for DUST.

  16. […] week I read a post on Hugh Howey’s blog in which he talks about a little writing/editing quirk he has. For […]

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