1. New_to_Ya

    New_to_Ya New Member

    Jan 6, 2015
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    Going for length

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by New_to_Ya, Jan 6, 2015.

    When writing I feel like I have a pretty solid outline that will make a great story, but I am having trouble stretching my ideas. What is the best way to add as much length as possible without making it obvious that I was just going for word count, and making the rest pointless rabble that puts the reader to sleep
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Mar 9, 2010
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    Consciously and deliberately going for length is, IMO, likely to put the reader to sleep.

    Is it possible that you're writing too much summary and not enough scene?


    Joe took the bus to work.


    Raining. Of course it had to be raining, on the one day that the car was being serviced. Joe leaned on the post of the bus-stop sign, as if it could provide shelter. And why wasn't there shelter? He'd seen those little glass-walled things in other cities; why not this city? What, the locals weren't worth the money? Probably somebody hadn't filled out the grant application, that was it.

    He snatched his phone out of his pocket and made a note: "Complain to City re bus shelters." Rain ran over the phone as he did so. Probably going to ruin it. That would be the city's fault, too.

    "Excuse me, sir?"

    "What?" Joe turned to glare at--glare down at--the face of the little woman standing next to him. Little woman in a rain coat and a rain hat, little woman looking contented and dry and bleeping friendly. He hated her, just looking at her little contented face and its curls of hair, dry hair, probably warm hair, under the hat. Stupid woman. Didn't she know that she should be angry about bus shelters? "What do you want? I'm waiting for a bus here."
    Komposten and jannert like this.
  3. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Oct 16, 2012
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    Is this a troll? I rarely make the accusation, but, you know, really?

    If it's serious: Forget length. Put it out of your mind entirely. Write only the story that needs to be told and be damned at whatever length you make it. And then, in the edit, you'll trim and cut and delete and add and enhance and rebuild and so on. The length will come later when you think of more details, more moments, more interesting things that happen along the way. Padding is for schmucks and always, always, really fucking obvious.
    Shadowfax likes this.
  4. plothog

    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Jul 24, 2013
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    I think this is a fundamental enough question that analysing your favourite books would help.

    See what balance between action, dialogue, description, thoughts etc leads to writing that feels like it's well paced.
    Then look at the larger structure. What level of complications and subplots are slowing the characters down from achieving their main goals.
  5. Void

    Void Contributing Member

    Dec 28, 2014
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    I think the real question is why you want to increase the word count rather than how. Keep in mind, more words ≠ better story.

    A story should take exactly as many words to tell as it needs to, no more. Under no circumstances should you pad your story, even if you try your hardest to hide it. If you are having trouble filling out the chapters then it might that your plot just doesn't need all that many words.
  6. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
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    @ChickenFreak has the right idea. You say you have 'ideas' and an 'outline.' Now you need to start envisioning the scenes that will make your story come to life for your readers. Take your time over this, and don't feel you need to do all your work by actually writing. Spend a lot of time thinking about your story instead.

    Pretend your characters are in a movie. See what they look like, watch what they do. Get a feel for the setting and pay attention to where they are and what surrounds them. Is it winter, summer? Are they cold and wet, hot and bothered? Scared, happy, angry, sad, intrigued, focused, daydreaming? Who they are with? If they are talking to their best friend, their boss, their lover, their mother-in-law, pay attention to what they say, note the breaks between sessions of dialogue. As a writer, you can do what a movie can't; you can get inside a character's head. Don't be afraid to get emotional, and don't be afraid to push the characters to their limits.

    Write scenes that allow the reader to figure things out for themselves. Don't just say 'Joe was sad.' What is he doing or saying (or thinking, if he's your Point-Of-View character) that will bring the reader to that conclusion? If the reader has to figure things out, they will become very invested and interested in your story. If you tell them what to think (Joe was sad) all the time, they'll quickly get bored.

    Don't be afraid to slow the writing down. Take time to let the story settle in your head and become 'real' to you, before you actually write a scene. You've got the initial ideas and a sense of where the story is headed. Now comes the fun bit. Now is when you bring the whole thing to life IN YOUR OWN HEAD. You must do this first, if your story is going to be rich and rewarding for your readers ...whatever its eventual length turns out to be.

    Storytelling is way WAY more than just coming up with ideas and an outline. It's bringing the ideas together into a coherent whole, and creating an experience for the reader to share with you.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
    DaveOlden likes this.

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