1. Shn1010
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    Shn1010 Member

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    Lengthening word count?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Shn1010, Jul 26, 2016.

    So after one and a half years, eight drafts and plenty of hard work, my manuscript is about 55 pages only. This is quite strange since my second draft was about 200 pages. I feel like I've omitted too much. Right now I'm trying to fix this by introducing a new character and changing the plot completely from start to finish. Any more ideas on how to fix this?

    P.S: I can't believe I thought I was finished.
     
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  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Take heart. I've been pitching my novel for a year and have only recently come to recognize some flaws in it (rejections have that effect).

    Because I was trying to cram 500 years of history into a 100K word novel, I've found that many of my scenes are too short. This can result in a narrative that runs a bit like this: first A happened, then B happened, then C happened. Many short scenes, lots of POV changes, piled one on top of the other. So, I've found myself eliminating or merging some scenes and drawing out the ones that remain - additional details, internal dialogue, more action.

    So, I suggest as you make your revisions, look to draw out your scenes. Let us get inside your protag's head. Put us in his/her shoes.

    Best of luck.
     
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  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I totally agree with @EdFromNY here. Although I haven't seen your MS, I suspect you should slow it down a bit, not pile on more incidents to it. Fully develop your scenes. Don't be afraid to use words. More words.

    The goal is not to quickly tell us what's happening and move on. The goal is to draw your reader into the scenes, and make them feel as if they are actually there. This takes time. If you rush scenes, people will gallop through them, but they won't be engaged with the story much.

    Have you had feedback from any beta readers? People who have read the whole thing?

    By the way, word count is a more useful gauge of length than 'pages.' Pages can be any size, with any size print. Agents will want word count, not page count, so probably a good idea to get into the habit of using word count when you describe the length of your story. I tried to visualise how long your story is/was, and can't really do it.

    Cutting 3/4 of your story, though ...which if your original count was 200 and it's now down to 55 ...what did you cut out?
     
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  4. Shn1010
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    Shn1010 Member

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    I can totally relate. That is actually how much of my story goes, A, B and C. I actually didn't put much emotion in it mainly because I feel like it has lost it's meaning. Or, worse it never had a meaning. So I'll try to revive my story so that it actually has meaning.
     
  5. Shn1010
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    Shn1010 Member

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    I actually had the initial drafts checked with beta readers. They all said it was good overall. What I did was, I cut off a lot of characters and subplots. I thought it would make the main plot stand out more. It was probably a mistake.
     
  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Pages don't mean much--how many words is it?

    Why not go back to the draft that beta readers liked and re-start your editing from there? It seems a lot less effort than writing something new when the old already has the stamp of approval. :)
     
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  7. Shn1010
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    Shn1010 Member

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    Well it's like only 20k words. Plus I lost my files because my old pc is ruined. Also, I feel like the old has lost it's meaning.
     
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  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, in that case, maybe you should just scrap it as a learning experience and write a new novel? Unless one of your old betas has kept a copy?

    And whatever you do, back up your work on something that's reliable. Every time you make changes, back it up, but keep the old stuff as well ...for reasons you can now probably understand. Email a copy of your MS or individual chapters to yourself or to somebody else. I do that at intervals, just in case my whole system goes haywire. At least I could access my stuff from my emails. I will have lost formatting in some cases, but not the words themselves.

    Meanwhile, 20,000 words is not a novel, but it is within novella or long short story length. Has any beta seen this short version without having read the long one?
     
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  9. kim&jessie
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    kim&jessie Member

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    if you feel like all you can get out of the story is 20k words, then yeah it might be best to just move on to something that sparks more fire.
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You've said that twice. If you mean that the story itself has lost meaning for you, then I agree with @jannert that it's probably best to move on. And if you can retrieve a beta copy, I would strongly recommend doing that. One of my favorite writers once put a WIP aside because, in his words, "it lost forward momentum." Thirty years later, he found it, dug it out, finished it and published it. He also wrote a book about how it had all happened.

    ETA: OTOH, the fact that you started this thread would belie such a loss of meaning to you. So, maybe you just need to reflect on it for a while to decide what you'd like to do with it.
     
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  11. Shn1010
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    Shn1010 Member

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    I actually agree. I guess my main problem was I failed to incorporate any meaning into my previous drafts and I only focused on how the story goes. Right now I've decided to keep trying for a few more months. If it doesn't work out, I'll move on.
     
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  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say move on for now, BUT keep the story cooking in the back of your mind. This isn't a writing issue that will be cured by spending time plonking keys on your keyboard, it's an imagination-creation issue that needs work inside your head and heart. Let the story simmer away in the background for as long as it takes to catch fire again. You subconscious is a great tool, but it won't be rushed or pushed!

    Meanwhile, start something else and see what you come up with. And good luck. And have fun!
     
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  13. BWriter
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    BWriter Member

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    I have always chosen, probably naively, to believe that a story should be as long or as short as it needs to be to tell it. Not adding things just to make it longer or cutting to shorten. I am just starting to take this writing thing seriously so I have a lot to learn. How important are word counts? Will something simply be ignored if it is to big or small?
     
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  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're looking for a traditional publisher you need to fit into their expected word counts. There's a lot more flexibility if you're willing to look at e-first publishers, self-publishing, magazines, etc., but ifyou want to see your book in the corner bookstore? Yeah, you need to pay attention to length.
     
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  15. BWriter
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    BWriter Member

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    What sort of word counts are we talking for an average first novel. I'm not tackling a novel yet but I would like to at some point.
     
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  16. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It varies a bit from genre to genre, but 80-110K is a pretty safe range for most.
     
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  17. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't worry about meaning, the story is the meaning.

    Regarding backups:

    God invited Jesus and Satan to a programming contest and gave them both problem to solve. On Satan's side, there was a flurry of key clicks as he cranked out code to solve the problem God had given him. On Jesus' side, the pace was much slower.

    After about an hour, Satan smiled a wicked grin, and said "I am finished!" Just before the power went out, then came back on. Jesus smiled beneficently

    Satan roared at God: "That's not fair! I just lost all my work!"

    God said, "Jesus saves. You should, too."
     
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