1. JaM1221
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    JaM1221 Member

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    Deadlines and Word Limits

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JaM1221, Nov 7, 2009.

    Hey. I'm in ninth grade and I was asked to praticipate in the Boston Globe Scholastic Art and Writing Award competition by my english teacher. In this contest there are obviously may rules and, of course, a deadline. I'm not used to any of this. Usually I write when I have ideas. Now, I must write before I have an actual story. The novel category has a 50 page limit and must be double spaced. I find it hard to limit myself to those pages and it is a big hinderance to my creativity. Also, the writing is due in March.
    I was wondering:
    Is there any way you generate ideas when you must write?
    How can I overcome the challenge or limiting my work to 50 pages?
    How do you finish works by a deadline?
    Any advice?

    Thank you!
     
  2. Fedora
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    Fedora Active Member

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    I would say that's true for most writers.
    Twenty-five page limit? That's pretty generous, actually. Word limits will only stifle your creativity if you let them. Remember, writing is about about quality over quantity. It's better to have an entertaining short story than a mediocre novella.
    My advice would be to stop worrying about it and start writing. Look into a writing prompt and just let your thoughts pour out onto the page. Once you have an idea, keep asking yourself "What if?" until you come up with an engaging, semi-original plot. Don't reinvent the wheel; in this day and age, everything that can be attempted already has been attempted. It's all about your writing ability.

    The fifty page limit can work in your favor if you go about it the right way. When page space is at a premium, you're forced to make each word count, and consequently your writing will improve. Trust me. Besides, you shouldn't get hung up on length until you at least have a first draft.

    How do I finish by a deadline? I procrastinate until the last minute, and then put on my Writing Hat and fervently get to work. Some people do their best under pressure, but I don't recommend it. To paraphrase Neil Gaiman, "The elves won't come in at night and finish your work for you." You just have to sit down and do it.

    My general advice would be to get off of this forum as soon as possible and get started. You only have until March, after all. And don't forget to proofread.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not really... usually, one has too many ideas and it's hard to pick just one to work on... you can look to writing prompts [can find many online], the newspaper/tv news, your own life, or that of people you know for ideas... with any imagination at all, you should come up with something worth developing...

    hard to do, for a novel, but not impossible... just don't get carried away with subplots and you should do fine... keep it simple... a protagonist [hero/heroine], antagonist [villain] and a goal that must be attained, with roadblocks to be overcome along the way... and the 'villain' doesn't have to be a person... it can be the m/c struggling with him/herself, or against nature, or whatever... i hope you'll keep it violence-free, since there's so much of the real stuff going on in the world, it doesn't help to add the fictional variety...

    by setting goals... set aside at least an hour per day, for writing... if it's due in march, you have 2 months to finish the thing and another two to polish it to a faretheewell, so force yourself to give up tv/games/etc. and devote all your spare time to the project... it will be valuable practice for 'real life' and won't kill ya... set a date deadline for each 10 of the 50 pages... and keep it!... then do the same for the edits and revision...

    don't see this as a 'must'... see it as a challenge... if you have any leanings toward being a writer later in life, this will be your kick-off... and, last, but not least, be sure to have fun with it!

    love and hugs, maia
     
  4. JaM1221
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    JaM1221 Member

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    Thanks Fedora and Maia,

    What you've said has been very helpful.

    I understand the people who read these cannot be reading hundred page novels and I also understand that the page limit can work to my advantage. "...Writing is about about quality over quantity." That was something I've been trying to keep in mind since the beginning of the assignment. I would much rather have the entertaining short story.

    Thank you so much. This was something I thought of but haven't actually tried yet. After getting some ink to the paper I'm sure I will have plenty of ideas. Thank you : )

    Thanks for the advice and point well taken. : )

    ...Sorry, getting right on that haha. Thank you!

    Thanks!
    I have a lot of ideas but it's hard to develop them into a solid plot.

    Thanks for the tip. Maybe alittle violence? haha

    TV and video games? haha I'm lucky if I can sleep. But thanks for the advice, I get what you're saying. I'll come up with a reasonable goal and stick to it.

    Thank you for taking the time to reply : )
    I'll take your advice. Gotta go get working haha
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Really? Then who is it who keeps finishing my stories for me? :confused:
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Your EEEEvilllll twin.
     
  7. WaltzElf
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    WaltzElf Member

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    The best thing that can happen to a writer is being forced to conform to strict word limits.

    Hinder creativity? No. Being able to get the point across in a snappy and effective manner opens up all kinds of creativity. Think about Time, or a good newspaper. The amount of content it can deliver in 1000 words or less is incredible.
     
  8. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    lol @ Banzai and Cog

    I pretty much have to agree with what everyone has said (relevant to the question). I must emphasize the "just write" part. When you write, your story will come to you, I can assure you that. Maybe the first draft will not be as clear as the final one, but it is indeed something to work with. Start writing and see where the words take you.
     
  9. JaM1221
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    JaM1221 Member

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    Thank you
     
  10. hoodwinked
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    hoodwinked Member

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    Start by asking yourself questions: What things most interest you? What kind of books do you like to read most? Is there any bizarre adventure you'd like to have? Do you want an overall serious story, or humorous? As yourself questions such as those, and write down your answers! At least, that's how I start from scratch.

    Next I suggest you think of a main problem, a problem that the readers will care about. From there, just throw out ideas. I strongly recommend keeping a journal with all your ideas in them, if you don't have one already.
     
  11. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Sounds like quite an honor to be asked to participate in this competition by your English teacher. I assume, since the "novel category" limits you to 50 pages, that they're not expecting the entire story, but enough of it to know it's compelling and to determine that you can actually write well. If you're not sure about that, you ought to check ("novels" are usually much longer than 50--double-spaced--pages). But with that assumption in mind, to your questions:

    Generating ideas is something I do as I go. If you start with a premise (a circumstance or a vague storyline) and at least one character in mind, all the better. Then my suggestion would be to introduce that character immediately and begin to imagine what happens to him or to her. Bit by bit is fine. But make every moment surprising in some way and then work your way on to the next moment. After a while your story may become clearer in your mind. That's how it works for me.

    Limiting your work. You have plenty of time to cut and trim since the competition isn't till spring. Cutting is usually extremely beneficial, if not essential to writing a good (long) story. Since you don't have to worry about finishing the entire storyline (given the 50 page limit to the "novel"), then you don't need to worry about "limiting" yourself, except for the sake of good writing.

    Meeting deadlines. (1) Start now. (2) Give yourself till January (or some earlier date) to complete your writing. That way you'll have plenty of time to rewrite and cut triviality away.

    Advice? Enjoy it. And good luck.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    actually, 50 pages would only be 12,500 words, at the usual 250 per page... and that's not even close to a novel for the adult market, but from the ages of the contestants, i'll assume it's meant to be for 'tween' readers, in which case it would be a shortish novel, but could still be more novel than short story...
     
  13. JaM1221
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    JaM1221 Member

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    Yes. They allow you to submit more than 50 pages but the first 50 pages will be all that is read.

    Thank you : )
     

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