1. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Losing the meat of my story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ulramar, Nov 5, 2014.

    For National Novel Writing Month I'm rewriting my old manuscript because it needs major work.

    But I'm losing meat. I tried to keep every chapter at or around 2,500 words for my own simplicity. And I always made that, or more. Back then chapters were around 2,700 words on average. Now, four chapters in, I'm struggling to even maintain 2,500 words.

    Those length requirements were never set in stone, but I recently rewrote a chapter that was originally 3,000 words and now it's 2,600 words. I don't know what to do.

    If anyone has encountered this before, how did you handle this? Do I just push through it now and beef it up later?
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I'd push through and flesh it out later. The framework is the most important anyway ( the bones ) so it really doesn't matter if it's too skinny in the first draft. Just means you might have a bit more work in the next drafts. Time wise though it should all balance out. When I first started writing my ms' were super-skinny bare-bones with lots of conversation. I never found it to be a drawback.
     
  3. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've always had issues adding more parts in, so that's why I'm so concerned. And this is the fourth draft, so if I need to add things in, what do I add? Any possible plot element has probably been explored.
     
  4. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've always had issues adding more parts in, so that's why I'm so concerned. And this is the fourth draft, so if I need to add things in, what do I add? Any possible plot element has probably been explored.
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Don't think in terms of plot - think in terms of your reader enjoying the story - maybe beef up the visuals, add dimensions to the character have you really explored the five scenes - those go a long way to bringing a scene to life.
     
  6. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    True. I do believe I can beef up the visuals. Building up the world more is probably needed.
     
  7. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Could it be you are actually a better writer than when you first tried this book? If the content is pretty much the same in terms of story, it might be you can convey atmosphere and description in shorter sentences than before, even dialogue. I wouldn't worry about comparing yourself now to your old self unless you feel the most recent draft is poorer than the previous in terms of quality, not word count.

    It might even be that you need bigger chapters and less of them rather than stick to a rigid 2600 word structure, but ultimately it's about whatever works.

    For me, there's no problem with editing/rewriting a draft down.
    It's when it goes up I tend to worry, especially in later drafts.
     
  8. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I so believe that I'm a better writer but I am still concerned about the word count. My writing isn't a 300,000 word tome, it was 94,000 words in the last version. Any shorter and I'm getting into trouble, I think.
     
  9. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    It's easier to add, than to subtract. Found that out the hard way. Now my chapters are barely 2k when they used to be 4k or 6k.

    Yeah, waaaaaaay over-describer over here. Just write what you need, then flesh it out later if you want.

    Example:

    He ate the hamburger.

    He sank his teeth into the hamburger and was assaulted by the slick, oily tang of grease.

    Much easier to go back and add that stuff in rather than go back and tackle a monster of description. ;)
     
  10. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Very true.
     
  11. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Rewriting usually kills "fat" not "meat".
    The first drafts tend to be all fat with no real flavor or meat.

    Your first draft is clunky, with some good and bad parts, and all of it needing revising and rephrasing to make it smoother and a stronger, meatier read.
    So, as you rewrite, you inadvertently begin to trim down on this fat and add a quarter of it back as meat and flavor.
    You end up with less than you started but now instead of flavorless fat you have more flavorful meat.
     
  12. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's definitely an interesting way to put it. So I'm skinning off anything that's not needed or wanted?
     
  13. A.M.P.
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    @Ulramar
    Basically yes.
    The first draft is you creating the mold for your story. The skeleton, the infrastructure.
    You're not architect or osteologist so it's going to be clunky and imperfect but the basic shape will be there.
    Now, when that first draft is done and you have the "bones" set up the way you need them, you can use your expertise and knowledge as a writer to fill them with meat and move them around as you see fit to make the whole the way you first envisioned it. So that means you'll be deleting entire chapters, rewriting them, and moving scenes or occurrences around to make everything fit better together, read smoother, and ultimately give your story all the pang it needs to make your vision become reality. Odds are, you'll be adding/rewriting just as much as you'll be deleting/thinning out and it'll all balance out at the end.
     
  14. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm just entirely rewriting everything. The first draft was not written well so I'm going back to the start. But yes, things will be moved around, deleted, changed, etc. I just hate to look at five months of work and say it was the bones. That's strange.
     
  15. A.M.P.
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    @Ulramar
    Don't hate it.
    The bones are necessary as they're something only you can create.

    Think of it this way: a kid who wants to make a dinosaur and have it eat people will use playdough to mold the shapes of the dinos and peeps and play with it. Imagine if he had to make the playdough himself too!
    As writers, we don't get to have our stories premade and ready to be worked with on something tangible. It's just a fancy dream and up to use to literally build it from scratch.
    So, don't hate it. Be glad you finished step one!
    Sometimes a whole rewrite isn't necessary. And one day, with skill and experiences, you may only need to do cursory edits as everything you write will be just that good.

    And speaking from experience; rewriting an entire story is 10x faster than writing it out the first time and just as pleasurable because you have the bones to work with. You just tweak and focus on the details rather than just trying to get the big picture down.

    Trust me, it's a great accomplishment to just have a first draft to work with.
    Many don't get that far.
     
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  16. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I tried the half rewrite and sadly I do need the full one. But yeah, I'll get it. I've gotten this far. Thank you!
     
  17. A.M.P.
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    For last year's annual sci-fi contest.
    I wrote the story in two weeks
    Rewrote it one day and it was 10x better.
    It sucks but as I rewrote, I found a lot more opportunities to add nuances or details that I had omitted when writing it all for the first time.

    If anything, it's kinda like writing piece by piece, you know?
    You write the characters down, the setting, the main story, then you add subplots, descriptions, fine details, and so on.
     
  18. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm definitely adding foreshadowing and mini-plots and stuff like that but I am losing size. And that really does suck. But yeah I do get what you're saying.
     

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