1. Steve Themachine
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    Steve Themachine New Member

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    How can I make my novel longer?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Steve Themachine, Jan 21, 2014.

    I've started on a novel recently and I created an outline that has twenty-seven bullet points detailing the main plot points of the story. However, I started on the rough draft recently and noticed that I got through my first bullet point in just a little over a page...at this rate my book will be less than 30 pages long, which obviously isn't ideal. Does anyone have any guidance on how I can make my book longer?

    Any help is very greatly appreciated!
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Have you thought about turning it into a short story instead?

    By the way, in the industry, people use the word count, not the number of pages, to talk about the length of a piece.
     
  3. _Ara_
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    _Ara_ Member

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    It's better to finish what you got going before you predict the outcomes. Then, that's when you can mess around with what you have going. Also, maybe some extra details with facts? I don't know what you're writing about but I always like real-life facts to be included with a bit of detailed description (not crazy whole page things) to paint the scenery better for me. Just a suggestion.
     
  4. maidahla
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    maidahla Active Member

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    I do that too! I have a whole book outlined and then it turns into either something shitty or something tiny.

    So now..... I make excerpts at first, instead of the whole "short novel" rough. Then I elongate the excerpts and make a bunch of handy story ideas and then I string them as cohesively as possible until I hate myself for having so many stories and so little patience. Haha. Hope this helps.
     
  5. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Without a writing sample, or a synopsis, it's impossible to advise you. If you're writing everything as an outside observer overview, for example, it will be short. Or if the scene progression is too simplistic the same will apply.

    One thing that may help is to think in terms of scenes and what happens in each (and a scene on the page is unlike a scene in film or on stage). Decide what the protagonists scene goal is for each, what will interfere with it, and what kind of disaster ends it and brings on the sequel and next scene. It may help to know what the black moment will be and how the climax plays out.

    In other words define the major spots on the map of plot so your scene progression will guide the protagonist and the reader toward the climax smoothly and with ever growing tension.
     
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  6. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Look at your characters, you have your MC and the plot line he has to follow right? Now the fun part lol....what you can do to lengthen the novel is to look at your supporting characters. Are them any that stand out? If not - why not? A novel needs a strong support cast as much as a movie does. If so - look at the strongest and out line a sub plot that runs parallel with the story or entwines or effects the main plot without losing its own integrity. Most novels have a subplot as it allows pace and provides a break from main story without taking the reader away from the environment you have created. The plus side is of course you have hopefully at least doubled the word count. (but don't force it.) If it doesn't work like that then it prob is better material for a short story.
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Here is a link to an excellent article on this subject: http://playle-editorial-services.com/how-to-shift-from-short-story-to-novel-writing-part-1-an-examination-of-differences/

    I especially liked the author's short explanation of the difference between the two forms:
    • A novel is a journey – not only for the characters, but for the writer and the reader.
    • A short story is an intense experience – something to linger over and savour.
     
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  8. Steve Themachine
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    Steve Themachine New Member

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    Thank you everyone for the insights!
     
  9. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    As soon as you meet the forum criteria for posting in the Writer's Workshop, I recommend you drop a couple thousand words of your story there so everyone can get a better idea of what you are working with. To answer your concern that your story will be too short, I think you should not worry about the length of your novel and focus on using it as a vehicle to learn the basics of the art of writing fiction. I am closing in on the end of my first novel and it has been an excellent instructor on how to write. If your first novel turns out to be a novella, then so be it. There is nothing wrong with that. If you try to pad your story, you may end up making it worse. It is important to remember that a story must be precise and the more you stick to the story and leave out extraneous information, the better it usually is.

    Just write. Enjoy the process. Let your story assume a life of its own.

    Best of luck and let us know how it goes.

    Also, listen to what Jay says. A large challenge I faced was understanding the difference between the POV of the "narrator" and the POV of the main character in a given scene. The difference is important and when you begin to understand it you will feel your words begin to resonate with a new depth.
     
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  10. TechnoGoth
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    TechnoGoth Member

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    Try grouping your points into scenes or chapters. And then looking at the arc of the scenes. Does it tell a full story? Are there interesting details that can be gleaned from the gaps?

    Also just write. You'll find that the story evolves and grows as you go. Use your bullet points as guides but don't feel bound by them.

    One of the chapters in my current book is 4800 words long all driven from four bullet points in my notes.
     
  11. Tom Kleermaker
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    Tom Kleermaker Member

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    Plus you can go the Tolkien route; write about what's happening or about characters or about the environments with as much detail as you can.
     
  12. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Although it worked for Tolkien, you can easily smother readers with details. One almost needs a spreadsheet to make it through Return of the King.
     
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  13. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    When I started writing, the chapters were very short. I realized I did too much telling instead of showing. When I rewrote to show something happening, it became much longer. Also, including what the POV character feels adds to the story.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The fact that you got so far so fast suggests to me not that you need to specifically focus on making your book longer, but that there's a general style issue, perhaps with overuse of narrative summary. For example, you could write:

    John and Jane met for dinner, and discussed business. After dinner, they went to the theater...

    Or you could write:

    John stopped just inside the restaurant door, trying to get a look at Jane before she saw him. Was he overdressed yet again? He'd downgraded to the tweed jacket and his shabbiest chinos, but that probably wouldn't be enough. If he saw her in jeans, he'd lose the tie. For shorts, he'd lose the tie and the jacket. Cutoffs would require rolled-up sleeves.

    And there she was, at the end of the bar in a glimmering cocktail dress and four-inch heels.

    "Can I help you, sir?" The waiter had approached from behind.

    John turned, stared blankly at the waiter for a moment, then suggested, "Kill me?"


    To put it another way, the purpose of your narrative is not just to get to your plot points but to join in the characters' experiences on the way.
     
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  15. bossfearless
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    bossfearless Active Member

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    Write harder. If your prose is going by too quickly, you probably aren't putting enough detail and description into your scenes. You should be facing the opposite problem, asking us how to trim your novel down by 20,000 words.
     
  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That's it exactly. Great example. Well said.

    The first instance, @ChickenFreak has created a summary or synopsis of a scene.

    In the second instance, ChickenFreak has created the actual scene—and we, the readers, are in John's head, watching it all happen.

    Creating scenes takes time. It also uses lots of words, but don't be afraid of this. Depth of scene is what keeps a reader's interest going.

    Despite all the hee-haw we read here on the forum and in certain other places, about short=good and long=bad, I don't believe your goal should be to tell your story in as few pages as possible. It's to get the story told in as engaging a WAY as possible.

    Don't be afraid to delve into your scenes, and make sure we see and feel what's happening to your characters. Make us feel as if we are the characters ourselves.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
  17. Tom Kleermaker
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    Tom Kleermaker Member

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    When I was talking about going the Tolkien route, indeedly it's easy to smother readers with details. But that was an example out of too many. If you consider William Burroughs on Junky, he says everything in its minimal details which can be on the other hand, a way to keep the reader gripped.
    A bit of stream of consciousness helps too. Attract attention to something em passant, but many times enough for the reader to ponder the significance of it all.
     

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