1. andrewdj
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    andrewdj Member

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    coming up short

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by andrewdj, Apr 11, 2011.

    I'm in the process of extending a short story (originally about 4000 words) concept into a longer novel, which I've set myself a goal of 75000 words, 3 parts, 30 chapters, 10 chapters/25000 words per part, 2500 words per chapter.

    Except that so far I've hit 1919 words in chapter one, 2178 in chapter two, 1230 in chapter three, which I wasn't too disappointed with, until I managed just 820 in chapter four, meaning 6147 in total for the first four chapters, when I was originally aiming for 10000 by this stage.

    Chapter two and four aren't actually finished yet, but they are near the end of their natural climaxes, so I don't think I'll be adding any more than about 1000 words. I know I should just ignore my gut feeling and keep writing, but I can't help but feel that if I'm dropping below my self imposed limit this early that I'll struggle to hit the 75k mark when I get to the end of the novel.

    It's quite possible that later chapters will go well over 2500, so my fear is probably unjustified as I imagine it's rare that a novel will have chapters of uniform length?
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Chapter will be as long as chapters need to be I have one chapter with two brothers interacting that is a little over one thousand words in the same book I have a battle scene that I ended up splitting into three chapters intially it was around eight thousand words.

    A lot depends on your writing style, personally i find a lot more detail and description is added second time round. Just keep writing - worst that happens is you learn enough from this one to improve the next one but chances are you will just not produce the work you planned.
     
  3. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    No offense intended, but to my amateurish mind, trying to force a novel into standardized chapters seems both hard and unnecessary.

    I would just continue writing. I know that I typically add to early chapters when I go over them again during the polishing process, so I wouldn't be too worried about them being too short.
     
  4. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Yeah, I agree with Charlotte. They can be as long or as short as you want. However, I find that when they get longer, past the 2k point, I end up having a hard time naming them. I can understand why some authors just name them "Two" or "Chapter Two" because so many things happen in it you can't chose how to title them.

    I agree with you there. I'm aiming to write at least 2k for each of my chapters but had the same result as you. They all differed some as much as 500 words. But I know I can always go back and expand them. This is my first draft so really I just need to do my best.

    Don't feel discouraged about not making your mark yet. As I feel this is your first draft. The second time around will be much better and you will mostly likely expand on that total count even further. All it takes is more time :D
     
  5. andrewdj
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    andrewdj Member

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    Well that's encouraging. My problem is reading too many guides which always mentions cutting down the word count on the second draft to remove extraneous words, but it rarely says anything about adding words.

    On that basis, I think I'll have no further concern about length; I'll just write it as it comes naturally, rather than concern myself with word count. The final word count for the full manuscript is of more importance than individual chapters.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Everyone is different - my second draft is generally about 30-40K longer other people cut by that much. I tend to mostly move my story with dialogue so I don't put as much description in the first draft.
     
  7. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    andrewdj: Well that's encouraging. My problem is reading too many guides which always mentions cutting down the word count on the second draft to remove extraneous words, but it rarely says anything about adding words.

    On that basis, I think I'll have no further concern about length; I'll just write it as it comes naturally, rather than concern myself with word count. The final word count for the full manuscript is of more importance than individual chapters.

    ^Good :D I'm glad to hear that. Just keep writing no matter what. Then go back after you've done what you wanted to do.

    Yeah, I don't know about anyone else, but I've racked my brain in the past looking up "how to write better", "how to write a story." It makes me cringe to remember all those guides I read and all the notes I took. And what did all that reading do for me? Nothing. I just frazzled my brain more and made myself into a hyper-critic. I can understand how they are helpful, but to a novice, they are just confusing. If I were hosting a writing workshop, I'd bar my students from going out and getting a "how to" book. Reading classic literature or even good modern stuff is better than listening to that stuff.
     
  8. Deleth
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    Deleth Member

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    I've read a few very good books that had chapters that were barely two pages on those tiny little paperback books. A chapter will be as long as it needs to be, don't force it. :)
     

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