1. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    I'm desperate. My novel is growing too large!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Man in the Box, Apr 20, 2012.

    So I was writing yesterday when I realised that I already have close to 80,000 words in my novel, but I'm not even in the middle of it! This scared me a lot and made me wonder if I was doing something wrong. My goal is not to write a gigantic story like A Song of Ice and Fire, my universe is far more modest... But I think there's a strong possibility that I'm including details which may not be necessary at all. Right know I'm concerned that I may easily surpass 200,000 words, which was not in my initial plan...

    So I'm wondering whether I should keep writing everything as intended (or, at least, how it's in my head), or change my writing style to include less content in the scenes and accelerate the story (and maybe go back and rewrite some bits of the material I already have). It's my first book and, quite honestly, north of 500 pages might be too much! Ironically, a few months ago I was worried if I would make it past 200 pages...
     
  2. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    Write. Then when you're done go back and see what distracts from the story line. Length should not be an issue. The longer the better, if it's a good story and maintains pace throughout. If you have to, you can make it two books. It's be done before.
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Just keep writing and on the rewrite, you'll be able to read it through all the way from start to finish, which would give you a sense of what is necessary, what should be deleted, what should be added etc. Do the revisions then, it'll save you a lot of time and work. Also, there's no better test than to see if the author himself gets bored reading it, and there would be nothing to read if you don't finish.

    So just finish it. It's your first draft. The finished product would likely look completely different anyway. And if after finishing, rewriting, rereading and much consideration, plus feedback aplenty, you feel that 200k words is right for the story because it's all relevant and pushed the story forward, then by all means keep it. Long novels are only bad if it's filled with chunks of fillers and no story.
     
  4. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Ditto what others have said.

    Your first priority is to get to the end of your first draft. Length is not important right now. It will all make so much more sense once you finish your draft, trust me.
     
  5. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    After you finished your 200K novel, you will go through the editing process--you'll find that you used many redundant words, scenes that could be eliminated or halved if told instead of shown, etcetera. Remember that it's easier to remove words than to add them.
     
  6. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    ^ditto that
     
  7. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    If you think you have lots you could easily cut then don't worry about having a really large word count but if cutting very much would compromise the integrity of the story, you might want to divide it. Is there a place about halfway through the story line that reaches a natural crescendo? Can you intensify this to make it a climax? Because if you have that it would be easy to divide the story in two.
     
  8. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Like everyone else. Once you have everything done, you're going to have a great feel for your novel. You'll know what's needed and you'll know what's not because it's all done and down on paper. You will find that there are scenes that are not needed and are distracting in general and then you'll find there are needed scenes to add. But write what you want to/need to and then worry about condensing etc in the editing process.
     
  9. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I agree with the members here. I'm not finished yet. I do have an arc/arch, but there are scenes where info and events must be included to advance the story. My fear is that I might have the same problem that you're facing.

    I intend to "write it out to the bitter end," make a few copies under differing names or save a few edtitions in flash drives and then compare and contrast revisions after the story "cools down."

    I'm amazed at how descriptive some older passages appear, and equally surprised at how many are just plain rough and clumsy. I'm not going to make decisions in this heat of the moment. I'm going to contine to write drek until the info is all jammed into the computer.

    Yes, I used the word 'drek.'
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just write it anyway. That's what revision is for. Don't think about dividing it into two novels if it's one idea, the risk is it wouldn't turn out very well. Every novel in a series need to stand on their own, and if you would divide it you would have to rething the whole plot to give it two different goals and endings. I think you should just write it as long as you want it and then cut everything that is not necessary and see what you end up with. Most writers write more than they really need in the first draft, so don't worry.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I read an interview with Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel in which he said that, for his celebrated book Night, he wrote 900 pages, and cut it down to 160 pages during his revisions. Even the best writers do what you're doing.

    I seem to remember that Thomas Wolfe wrote far too much as well. He delivered a two-million-word manuscript to his editor, Maxwell Perkins at Scribners. Over the next few months, Perkins and Wolfe cut this immense thing down to publishable size by taking out huge chunks - 90,000 words here, 100,000 words there. Wolfe saved all this stuff and used it in his later books.

    So just write. Finish your draft. Then revise, and you'll probably find yourself cutting it down.
     
  12. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's about the best news you could have at this stage. It means that when you come to editing it you will have a lot of room to cut out flab and make it really tight. If you were close to your target word it would be a real problem and make the editing really difficult.
     
  13. Endovert
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    Endovert Member

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    You have to take into account how attached you are to it. Some writers just can cut things, and if you're one of them, you had better consider consolidating the outline from the start. However, if you can force yourself to take an axe to the story once it's finished (and this is something that all writer's must do at some point), then I totally agree with the others. Keep writing and trim the fat later.

    And above all, ask yourself why you are including whatever you're writing. If you don't have a concrete reason, skip it. If it doesn't elaborate on plot or character, cut it.
     
  14. Jenny Masters
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    Jenny Masters Member

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    I read somewhere that Atlas Shrugged has 500,000 words. So...chill.
     
  15. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    Woah this is great!, you'll have plenty of stuff to cut out if you write 200K and you cut out half of it, you'll have a great novel where there's always something important going on.
    keep writing you're lucky to have that kind of problem, i finished my story with 25 000 words, that's not even half a novel so I have to go back and rethink everything.
     
  16. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    To mirror what everybody else has said, finish it. First draft is all about writing, writing, and then some more writing. Once you finish the first draft, then you go back and clean up the mess you made and eventually make it spotless and shiny.
     
  17. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I wrote my first novel in WordPerfect, where you had to press an F-key to get word count. As a result of that, I never checked word count until I was finished the first draft. To my utter amazement (and not a little chagrin) it was 440,000 words. I eventually cut it down to size, and learned a lot about writing in the process.
     
  18. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    WOW! Thanks for all the answers! This will really motivate me, that's a sure thing!

    I always thought that by "first draft" people meant a rough draft of a chapter, not the whole story. It's very interesting to know that the challenges are not done after you finish the story!

    Usually after I finish scenes and chapters there's very little to edit because I have a good sense of grammar and everything seems to fit. So my challenge when I'm done with it would be to rewrite and trim stuff. You showed me the light!

    Splitting into two books could work because I have two parts in my story, and an interlude between them. Theoretically, I could bloat the first part a little (since it's smaller) and shorten the second part.
     
  19. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    First off, the most important part is 'getting it all on paper' or, in most cases, in a Word document. When you run out of story, you have a rough draft, but the rough draft is not meant for sharing. You take a copy [saving the first rough draft], in which you can edit the story - removing all unnecessary items, whether they are scenes or just crutch words, check the grammar, and make sure the story flows. When you cannot improve anymore, you check the wordcount. If you want to be trade published, you have to conform to certain trade standards. If you self-publish, you can pretty much do what you want, although it's smart to divvy up a long story in either a serial story or separate books.

    Still, those are consideration for 'after'. Right now, just let you creative juices flow and get everything down, so you can decide what to do with it later.
     
  20. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think one should ask himself that question while in the writing stage. That's for the revision-process, not the creative phase. Right now all he should do is getting the story on paper without restrictions.
     
  21. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    ... if this is your fourth novel, and the third was a big success.
     
  22. Rickswan
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  23. Kaymindless
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    Deleted - responded on wrong thread.
     
  24. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    Did you start your story as close to the end as possible?
     
  25. Mystique23
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    Short and to the point. Bravo!
     

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