1. dave_c
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    dave_c Active Member

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    exploding word counts.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by dave_c, May 13, 2012.

    Iv started expanding the short story i have here http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=52592 into a full blown novel. I'm really enjoying it as it feels like it writes itself. The issue im having is that i have an ending but after working on my plan for the story im approx 200,000 words in and am about halfway through and as it isn't a rewrite of the bible I'm spying an issue.

    iv considered splitting it into a trilogy (or quad-rilogy) but I don't like it. I've also tried stripped it down to things i have to have in the story in the story and it just doesn't feel right, feels rushed and missing that je ne sais quoi.

    IS there a solution to my problem? I'm hoping to release a novel, not a library.

    also does anyone else ever have this problem? or am i just weird/over enthusiastic?
     
  2. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    Most people's first drafts come in way over the target word count for the market, that's where editing comes in. Finish your first draft, and don't worry about how long it is. After that, you'll be going through the entire thing many times. At this stage you'll see paragraphs which can be revised down to sentences, entire chapters which are unnecessary and sub-plots which aren't working and need to be excised or amalgamated. This stage can usually cut your word count by anything between 10-70%.

    So don't worry about it for the time being, just keep writing as if you're writing one novel.
     
  3. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I have a similar problem. My first drafts are always overly long because I just want to get everything out. As the Cooper said, that's when editing is useful. You'll find most of the things you typed, you don't even need. So don't worry about it now and just keep getting everything out you want to write.
     
  4. dave_c
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    dave_c Active Member

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    Its based more upon an estimate. I write everything in bullet points before I start writing just getting the bare bones of the story down on paper before I actually put in the meat. For example

    Mc's mother dies in child birth.
    Mac is sent away by father with a guard.
    Guard raises child as own.

    This pretty much sums up the entire short story I wrote plus a little more. The issue I have is I have somewhere in the area of 15 pages of these bullet points.

    I appreciate the advice but I tend to expand as I redraft rather than shrink. Making the issue worse rather than better.

    Don't think I'm going to have a choice other that to make it a series.

    Thanks for the tips all the same.
     
  5. phyrlord
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    phyrlord Member

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    Your definitely writing a hearty book. But don't be concerned for the wrong reasons.. aka 20 year old attention spans etc.. Most 800 page books sit around the 320k word mark.. some bigger ones are around 560k, I'm reading The Passage right now (long haul) and it's a 800 page book, but it's a larger paper back, almost twice the size of a normal paperback, trade copy size I guess? But anyways, it sits at almost 700 words a page.
     
  6. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Finish the story without thinking about the word count. Only then you'll know if you need to add or cut words. But being a first time novelist you'll most likely have to cut it down if you want to sell it to a publishing house.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I see no point in plunging blindly ahead if you already know you are going to FAR exceed a submittable word count.

    It's a good time to re-evaluate your plot structure and trim some unneeded subplots. Make allowances if you know your prose is greatly over-written, but there's no point in writing thousands of words you know you will have to burn anyway.
     
  8. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    Agree, when I said to finish, I didn't realise that you were planning on 800k words for your story. As an unpublished writer, it will be almost impossible for you to sell a series of novels unless each one is self-contained and you can submit the first without ever mentioning that there are more to come.

    It sounds like you're either overwriting or not telling your story efficiently enough.

    All of those sound like backstory which could be quickly revealed at some point during your story.
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If you're trying to expand a short story into a novel, which is already becoming a series, then I think you are going WAAAAAY over the top. Are you trying to stay with the main plot thread of the short story? If not, what are you doing to it? Because it sounds like you really have to rein yourself in. Discipline and focus, discipline and focus ...
     
  10. dave_c
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    dave_c Active Member

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    i feel kind of like im getting my wrist slapped here, haha.

    "expand" was perhaps the wrong word. Im using the short story found above as a prologue basically following the life of the child as it grows up. the story is following the child into adulthood.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I understand. I have a short story (actually, a pair of them) I am turning into a novel, and one problem I had was an explosion of "important" subplots. I have had to mercilessly prune them back, and even so, it is a challenge to keep it tight and focused.
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Look over what you have and ask these questions:

    1. Does everything need detailed explanations and descriptions? If not, delete.

    2. Does every scene contribute to the flow of the plot? And if yes, does it contribute in a significant way? If the answer to the 2nd question is no, then think of deleting or at least a good rewrite. If the answer to the 1st question is no, then definitely delete!

    3. Look at your significant scenes and any other long scenes - does it need to be so long, or are there other ways of saying exactly the same things in a better, shorter way?

    4. Look over what you have and decide, which scenes are completely necessary? Make a note of those. Now look at the ones that are simply the cherry on top but not absolutely necessary - can they be cut back? Or perhaps, better, can they be merged into one scene?

    5. Instead of expressing and developing something over the course of 5 scenes, could you condense it into 3 scenes, for example? If not, why not? Be ruthless here.

    6. Maybe you have to consider the content - change the content so that you can say the same thing with fewer words. Maybe it's the exact events that's dragging out the word count - re-evaluate your events and think about if they really are the absolute BEST illustrations for what you need to convey.

    The truth is, it's much harder to say a lot with fewer words than the opposite. By ruthlessly chopping, you could be refining your writing in a way you never knew you could. But it's gonna be painful. Don't let the pain stop you from pruning your masterpiece!

    And a way to cope with chopping chunks of excellent writing and story away - simply copy and paste it into a new file. This way, you always have it. You haven't officially "deleted" anything, even though you have. It's psychologically a lot more comforting, to know that should you change your mind, you could always go back. But trust me, you almost never go back. You always find some new, better way, I find. Good luck!
     
  13. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I found when my word count was flying away with the story it was because I didn't really have the main plot focused. I thought I did but when I tried to condense the story into a one sentence blurb it resembled a disjointed snake with several heads. I think having a blurb that tells what the story is about really helps me stay focused on the story and decide what scenes need to be thrown into a file to be cannibolized into another story if possible.
     

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