1. njwh
    Offline

    njwh New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Australia

    Determining the project size for an unpublished writer.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by njwh, Apr 8, 2013.

    Would you say it's better to tackle a smaller scale project when unpublished?
    Something to get your name out there, and establish yourself before attempting large novels with multiple volumes.

    If one chooses to write a stand-alone novel, how extravagant should this be? Should one go all out and produce a 100,000 word dystopian manuscript that delves deeply into the psychology of a human and what it means to be a part of culture. Or just your basic adventure/mystery/thriller novel in a sense.

    You could argue that one should always aim high. But is it wise to "use up" fairly decent, original, ideas when you don't have as much experience as, say, a published writer would have?

    New innovative ideas will always arrive, but they don't come easily. Should I throw as many ideas that can fit into one project, or scatter them amongst many?

    Sometimes, I worry that if I don't tell the story soon enough someone else will beat me to it.

    Cheers & Love.
     
  2. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    ...if you are just starting to write, yes, it's best to start short, so you don't get locked into writing something that will take a year or more to complete and will probably not be publishable... writing shorter works will allow you to gauge your progress and upgrade your skills as you go along... if you do that with a novel, it'll turn out to be a patchwork quilt of varying styles and levels of quality...

    ...if you're confident that your writing is up to publishing standards, then size isn't the issue... just write what you want to write most and can write best...

    ...it can take many years for your name to be 'out there' and you will most likely never get to that level of fame... so why would you want to wait that long to write novels?... and even if you do become known as a good short story writer, that won't help much in selling your novels... all it does is show agents that you can get publishers to buy what you had been writing, isn't proof that you can write a totally different kind of fiction successfully... it might help get your foot in the door, but it's only the novel ms itself. that will impress them... or not...

    most publishers want 80-100k words from new and unknown writers with a first novel... what it should be about is what you can write best, period!

    ...since first novels have little to no chance of snagging an agent or publisher, one might think it wise to save a 'best' idea for later attempts, when one's skills have come closer to professional levels... but if you have what it takes to be a successful novelist, your current 'best idea' shouldn't be your last, right?... and to maximize your first novel's chances of succeeding, why would you want to waste a year or more on a less than best idea?...

    ...do you want to write a marketable novel with a compelling, reader-engaging plot, or just a jumbled mess of everything you can cram into one book?...

    ...someone probably has by now, since nothing is totally original at this point... everything has already been 'done' and re-done, ever since the first authors drew their stories on their cave walls... everything written since is just creative plagiarism... so all you can do is to do it differently enough that it seems 'new'...
     
  3. Mithrandir
    Offline

    Mithrandir Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    In the general vicinity of the Atlantic Ocean
    Unfortunately, I have already made this mistake. My novel is at least twice as bad at the beginning. I have improved in the process, but now I have another year or two before it's done. I now wish I had spent more time doing shorts and trying to get better before jumping into a novel.

    I still want to finish editing it because failing to finish would just eat me up inside.
     
  4. erebh
    Offline

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,620
    Likes Received:
    467
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I'd say always produce to the best of your capabilities.

    Are you worried about using your trick shots in the first frame? You mightn't make the second; do you want your best ideas to die with you?

    Pushing you're sub standard work up front to make a name for yourself is not going to work is it?

    It's like being on X Factor - Do you sing your best song up front in the hope you get to the next stage or do you save it for the televised live final? You mightn't get that far - take one round at a time always giving your best and pushing yourself to excel on the previous.

    I couldn't imagine thinking my book is not worthy of my ideas - that somehow I should keep the best for the next installment - it only serves to reinforce the fact that my first book is crap when to me, my book should be worthy of Literary prizes the world over.

    In short, go with your best and keep getting better!
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    You're approaching this from the wrong end. Don't worry about how long your story should be. You should just be writing the stories that you want to write. However long they turn out to be is how long they're supposed to be.

    Although there is merit in the idea that writing something short is easier and a better way to begin writing than writing something long, this is not the case for everyone. Some people are naturally novellists and can't write a short story. Some short story writers can't write a novel. Of course, there are plenty of people who can do both. (And plenty more who can do neither, but they're not relevant to this discussion.) If you find the idea of writing 100K words overly-daunting, then set out to write a short story. But, my opinion is that you should never think about how long your story should be, unless you're entering it into some sort of contest or using it in some situation where there is an imposed word limit. Of course, if you end up with a 500K story, you'll have to do some serious editing and consideration of whether there is too much going on in the story, or whether there is excess verbiage or scenes that don't add to the story. You'd also, at that point, consider whether you'd be better off making the story into two or three separate stories, or whether you really do just have one.

    No one else can tell your story the way you tell it. So don't worry about this.

    Why would you do this? Unless an Angel Agent has appeared from the sky and told you he has a publisher ready to publish your story right now, but will only publish one, and you will never get to publish another, keep the themes and ideas that make sense together and others can be explored on their own. There's no limit to how many stories you can write.

    You should write the story that's in you and that you need to tell. Whatever that is.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Nee
    Offline

    Nee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2013
    Messages:
    713
    Likes Received:
    23
    Well, the thing is, every writer I know has at least two novels that will never see publication. (I have three :D ). So it is better to accept that it is just the price of learning to write, because you can spend another year trying to bring it up to a publishable level and still not quite have something you are proud of. Better to go ahead and get on with the next one--hopefully that one will be publishable.
     
  7. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,728
    Likes Received:
    4,826
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    You only live once. Swing for the fences! I reject the notion of writing some throwaway junk just to get into print before you tackle your big idea. Take your best idea and write is as well as you possibly can. If you get published, it will be for the right reasons and you won't have wasted your time. If it is not published, you can move on to other ideas (trust me, you'll have more) and you can get those published. If you want to, after you've made a name for yourself, you can revise your first idea to bring it up to standard and try it again.
     
  8. Mithrandir
    Offline

    Mithrandir Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    In the general vicinity of the Atlantic Ocean
    That's the thing, I don't really know if it is publishable quality. I have several really good ideas for improving the characters and the plot, but I think my problem lies in inferior prose on the small scale (this seems like any other skill, the more you write the better the prose gets).

    I think I'll post one of my better chapters to see how close I am (or send it to Maia, but that might be too painful).
     
  9. Motley
    Offline

    Motley Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    USA
    Always aim for the best story that is in you and needs to be told. Length will figure itself out.
     
  10. SuperVenom
    Offline

    SuperVenom Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    478
    Likes Received:
    72
    Location:
    South Wales
    Why trying so hard to get published straight away. have fun, realistically we all want to be published by that should not be the only reason. Practicing to get published will yield the same feeling as writing a full novel to get published. I would say just write a story you want to get lost in, make the mistakes, correct the mistakes and learn. But learn in an environment you enjoy. I'm writing a story I want to write, maybe it will get published one day maybe it wont. I don't mind as I do it for the enjoyment first. There is far less pressure to deal with this way. Do the small projects as well to keep fresh if needed but don't ignore a great idea just for market value. And not know if it is publishable....that's up to the publishers Harry Potter bounced around quite a few publishers that deemed it unworthy. So who knows????
     
  11. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    I agree with what Maia said. Keep an ear open because she provides wise counsel. :)
     

Share This Page