1. Celtika
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    Celtika Member

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    Difficulty 'Filling' a book!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Celtika, Jun 28, 2013.

    Hey everybody, this is my first post here, it's a pleasure to meet you all!

    Back at school, i was great at writing short stories and poems etc, to the extent that i was considered one of the strongest story writers in the school.

    Since leaving school, i have attempted several times to actually write a full novel, with the purpose of having it published. However, i have a huge problem with writing too quickly.

    I often get a great idea and a wave of inspiration, but what i often find happening is that i treat the book as a sprint rather than a marathon, and subsequently find that i am racing through the story far quicker than i should be. What i want is a nice story with slow progression that slowly draws my readers in - as opposed to 30 pages of intense fiction.

    Does anybody have any advice on how to 'fill' things out to the extent that i can get perhaps 160-190 pages but without 'boring' my readers? I really want to have relevant content in my story, but at the same time, i want my reader to be able to relax into the book without a constant fast story development.


    I apologise in advance if i have done a poor job explaining myself, or if i have asked a very ignorant question! It's been many years since writing (and that was at a high school level!) and this is my first time actually discussing writing with other writers.

    Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why don't you write a book of short stories then once you're back in the saddle, write your book?
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Planning when you sit down is important to a novel. Understanding if there are going to be enough elements to make of it a novel. Sometimes a short story (or a long story) is only ever just that and should remain that. There are plenty of examples of stories that were later "fleshed" out into a book by the author and the readers of the original story unanimously indicate, "Thanks, but you should have left it alone."
     
  4. claireybear
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    claireybear New Member

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    Maybe the ideas you have had so far have been better suited to short stories? Writing has a funny trick of going where it wants to, not necessarily where you want it too!

    If you havn't written for a while either, then maybe like erebh says, short stories would be a good way to get started again.

    Maybe you could post some of your work for review?

    Claire
     
  5. Ann-Russell
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    Ann-Russell Member

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    Since most of your experience comes from writing shorter pieces, its important for you to understand that approaching a novel length piece is going to be different. A major difference is the scope of the story. In a short story you may have one view point and a major plot. However, in a novel you can broaden the scope. Maybe include a couple view points and add in some more sub-plots.

    It also might help if you try to do some planning. When you get that wave of inspiration, ride it and crank out some pages/some scenes. Then go back and try to build the idea further and turn it into a novel length story. On the other hand, as stated above, some stories lend themselves better to the short form and don't need to be broadened.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It sounds to me like you're just writing outlines. You think you're writing stories, but I bet if you looked back at what you've done, you'll find your stories very sparse, very skeletal. That happened to me a lot when I was trying my first novel.

    Here's an interesting exercise to try: Think of one of your favorite novels - one you remember quite clearly, but you haven't read for a few years. Imagine your favorite scene from it. Now, without opening the book, write that scene yourself. When you finish, compare your version to the published original. My guess is that the original will be probably about five times longer than your version. If the original is significantly longer than yours, examine both closely and you'll see why. You probably got in most or all of the major points of the scene, but you did so with far less detail. Maybe the original spent more time in the character's head, explaining what the character was thinking and feeling as the events of the scene transpired.

    That kind of exercise can help you learn the difference between real novel writing and what you're doing. It can be a real eye-opener.
     
  7. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Based on the phrases highlighted in bold, I would say you're thinking too much about the potential reader. Change your mindset. Imagine that no one else is ever going to see this story. Write what you want to see happening, in the way you want to see it expressed. Would a reader dislike it? Tough. They don't exist yet and you're not still honing your writing skills, so why worry about what they might want? Over-thinking about what a reader might want at such an early stage can be a hinderance. Be your own reader. You might find that the story comes more naturally to you that way.
     
  8. Celtika
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    Celtika Member

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    Wow, thanks for the input everybody! I think i made a great choice joining this community :)
     
  9. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    I wouldn't worry too much. This will be your first draft, after you've done your draft. Take a few weeks off, print it off and read the draft. You'll nitpick things that look weird and out of place and suggest changes, then you should rip sections out. If you don't do this then take another week off until you're sure its best it can be. Then do the 2nd draft, this is where your story needs to shine.
     
  10. LonesomeGhost
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    LonesomeGhost New Member

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    I'm having the same problem, I think. I've gotten fairly good at short stories, because I already write in the condensed format that requires. Now I'm finding it to be a challenge taking time on the details while I try to write a novel. Hope I can learn better pacing from you guys.
     
  11. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    Set yourself to a daily quota. Say, ten pages (at least) a day. Have each day's writing contribute to that same work. You can't try and get a novel out all at once. They're long, intense projects. Slow and steady wins the race.
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    My advice is, write it the way you like - fast and dense and short. And then once it's finished, take a short break (a day, a few days, a week, up to you), and then go back and re-read the whole thing. Can you see which parts may have benefited from some more detail? Maybe this action sequence would be THAT much better if you'd foreshadowed it back in p.10, or added a brand-new scene that gave the MC a higher stake earlier before the action happened? Now add these little bits and pieces.

    But don't fall into the trap of trying to "fill out" a book. Simply write as much as it takes to tell your story, no more, no less. If you add in irrelevant fillers, your readers *will* notice and get bored. There's no way around it. Don't mistake fleshing out a scene to simply "filling" the book.

    And the thing is, perhaps you should try and write short stories first. Novels are a huge undertaking and it sounds like you're not a natural at writing lengthy pieces (that doesn't mean you're a bad writer, just that you might be better at a different type of writing) - so why not go easy on yourself and start with a short story of say, 5000 words? Get comfortable with a certain length, then build on it. Maybe your next short story can be 10,000 words. Maybe after that, the next one will be a novella at 20 or 30,000 words.

    The truth is, it sounds like you just need to get writing, don't worry too much. It'll come, and perhaps you'll find that novels are for you, perhaps you'll find that they aren't for you. Novels are not the only thing you can write in fiction. The more you write, the more you'll know what you're comfortable with. As you explore, you'll start to get a feel for what you should dwell upon more and when you should pick up pace etc.
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That's a really interesting idea for a writing exercise, Minstrel. Brevity isn't a problem with my writing (the opposite!) but if it was, I'm sure this would work a treat.

    I think Mckk is right. Also, try to get quality feedback on what you're writing. If people feel there is something 'lacking' in your stories, then possibly what Minstrel said about you writing outlines instead of stories is true. If, however, people are quite taken with your stories, and want more ...more stories, not more in a particular story ...then you probably have a talent for writing short pieces. You might want to stick with that and perfect it, or start branching out into longer pieces, as Mckk suggests.

    Whatever it is, just keep at it. And do post stuff on the forum here, so we can give you specific feedback. Good luck!
     
  14. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    On an another note, my dilemma is the complete opposite of the OPs. My story is 35k words in and NOWHERE near finished. I don't want the story to be open for sequels, I want the story to finish all loose ends, but it's harder than it looks.
     
  15. CyberFD
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    CyberFD Member

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    If you have your story finished at 30 pages but you were shooting for a 160-190 page novel, that's going to be tough to just "flesh out." My advice is to think about where in your story there seems to be a jump from one scene to another. Is there anything occurring between those scenes? That's been the biggest help for me while writing my novel. I'm DYING to kill off one of my characters, but I've found empty spaces leading up to when he gets the ax. I've been able to fill those spaces with meaningful scenes that still leave my readers intrigued and engaged.

    Hopefully this also helps :)
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I feel your pain, Celtika, but I'm not experiencing it. I'm looking to shave off the chapters I have that aren't part of moving the story forward. I hate to throw so much material away.
     
  17. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Wanted to point out that all short stories are not sprints, just so you don't get the wrong impression. Yes, there can be such shortcomings as too little descriptions and pacing too fast in short stories also. And I don't like the word 'fill' as used in your post, "filling things out" is very different from adding what is necessary. As already pointed out some stories just can't be shorten or elongated. Don't "fill things out" just for the sake of increasing word count.
     
  18. Celtika
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    Celtika Member

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    By all means - feel free to donate it! ;) Lmao.
     
  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Flesh your characters out more and story might evolve from it. The reason I have so much is I know my characters better than the reader will need to. I know the history of her people but the reader will only need a bit of that. And I know the problems of her people today, that's where the reader needs to know a lot. So there's extra. :)
     
  20. Luna13
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    Luna13 Active Member

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    Generally short stories contain less character and setting development. In a novel, you might want to flesh out the characters a bit more - give them deeper, more 3D personalities as well as a more detailed back story (although you don't want to bore your reader!). You will also have room to add more characters. They don't have to be important to the story or particularly detailed, but a multitude of background characters such as coworkers, neighbors, and out-of-town relatives will make the story more interesting and believable. This will increase your word count and may also open up opportunities for more subplots.
     
  21. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Dialogue and details. Build the world and the people in them, pausing the plot for moments, and then drag us back into the action.
     
  22. MrWisp
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    MrWisp Member

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    Celtika, the best advice I can give that I don't believe was already touched upon is to get a few readers whom you you trust. You spend, I would imagine, a large amount of time with characters and scenes rattling around in your head, so you may not see all of the details needed to make them real to the reader. Give your work to a friend, maybe along with some questions like, "Are there any characters that you feel should be more developed?" or "Were there any scenes that felt rushed?" Sometimes, maybe you've underdeveloped a minor character by design, so the feedback won't always help, but there's a chance that your reader might see a place for development that you hadn't noticed before. Sometimes the descriptions and development in our heads do not always make it to the page.
     

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