1. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    My Novel is to short. What do I do?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by louis1, Jan 26, 2012.

    I just finished my first attempt to write a novel ever.
    I understand that it's only the first draft and I must work on it a lot.
    But it's only 25'000 words.
    Any tips to make it longer? or any random tips for a first time writer ?
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm... Well, the first thing I'd suggest is to go through and make a short summary of each scene, and just see if there's anything you missed. Not just connecting scenes, but logical holes you never filled in, such as "Where did he get X thing?" or "Why did they change their mind so fast?" Each time you come up with a question like that, write a scene about it.

    Then there's character development. Does your character learn anything in the story, or do they just accomplish a set goal? Write scenes with unresolved dilemmas, or things the characters feel very bad about. Continue to emphasise their hurt and as you go through and goals start getting accomplished, allow your hero a bit more piece of mind. When you get to the end see if there is anything they still feel bad about, and write something to show how they got over it.

    Are there challenges? How much do your characters have to fight to get where they want to? A challenge is always great padding, and can take several scenes to discover, attempt to conquer, retreat to regroup, and then finally actually conquer. If there's anything in the story the character gets too easily, from artefacts of great plot importance to some useful information that helps them win, then make it seem impossible on their first attempt to obtain it.

    How many side characters do you have? Devote at least one scene to each to learn more about them.

    Now look at your summary of your scenes again. Created any more plot holes/logical improbabilities/conflicts/wobbles in the timeline where someone spent two days doing something while someone elsewhere only spent 1 then they meet up again? Fix these things with MOAR SCENES to explain what happened.

    To be honest, as a first novel's first draft, you've got a brilliant blank slate for messing it up as much as you like and to experiment with story and characters that I would love to have. I'm working on a very closely plotted series and I'd love the freedom to be able to just make up extra stuff... It's also got some books in it which are too short, but I have to be so careful about what to add I'm making very slow progress through it... Go have fun writing yours for me. :D
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    At 25,000 words, it's either a novella (if it's really a complete story) or a piece of a novel. I'm guessing it's the latter. My advice would be to pick up a novel - any novel - and read it from cover to cover. Then go back and read your completed work. I could list a number of suggestions - adding subplots, fleshing out characters, being descriptive - and all of those things would definitely add to your word count, but they wouldn't necessarily correct what's missing. See, the key here is not just to add words. It's to find the pieces of a good novel that are missing (or, more likely, just not fully developed) in yours. Perhaps you only wrote the "bare bones" of the story because you were anxious to get it written. I used to do that, myself. Comparing to a published novel will help.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is what I used to do, too. It's almost like writing a detailed outline rather than a real novel. Each scene was really just a summary of what it should have been. They weren't deeply imagined enough to make them really vivid to the reader.

    One clue that you might be doing this is if all your paragraphs are too short - just a couple of lines or so. Compare your paragraph lengths to those of any well-written novel. You'll probably find that the professional writer uses a variety of paragraph lengths and includes many details that you haven't. It's those details that makes the narrative vivid, and you might find your own work doesn't have enough of them.

    I once read an anecdote from a famous writer about when he was just learning the craft. He said that he figured a novel was about ten times as long as a short story, so that meant ten times as much stuff should happen in it. (Of course, this is very naive thinking.) He wrote a 120-page manuscript and gave it to a friend to read. The friend said, "Not bad, but it sure is long." So he rethought his story, removed many of the scenes, and expanded the rest by deepening them, by adding more telling detail and making them more vivid. His second draft was 300 pages long. He gave it to the same friend, and this time the friend said, "This is much better. Shorter, too!"

    I think there's a good lesson in that anecdote.
     
  5. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Don't bother about it's length. It is what it is. The question you need to ask yourself is, is it complete? If it's done, if the story's told and it all seems to flow nicely etc, then what you've got is only going to be harmed by trying to pad it out. It doesn't matter that you wanted it to be a novel, it is a novella and you should try instead through your editing to make it the best novella that you can.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  6. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    Would you like to know how long my first 'novel' was? 4500 (sorry for epic fail earlier) (approx), so don't worry. If this is your first attempt, then the chances are it's not the best piece of writing you'll ever do (no insult intended, that's just a fact). Writing takes years to perfect, and working out how to get enough material down and make it interesting is part of that. Keep coming up with ideas, keep writing and you will improve in all areas, including writing enough. I understand why you're concerned, because even if you've got brilliant story ideas, if you can't write enough it's hard to make anything come of them.

    I found that it's all down to planning, and a lot of experience of what kind of sequences require a lot of words, and which don't, which depends partly on your personal style. You might like to have a look at my blog at the link below for tips on planning a novel.

    http://www.writingforums.org/entry.php?b=62806
     
  7. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    As the others have said, it's probable you've just been writing the basic skeleton of the book. Try introducing side plots, flesh out secondary characters, give climatic events more build up etc. If the worst comes to the worst you could just publish it as a novella.
     
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    And here I thought my first was bad at 440K!
     
  9. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    My first efforts were always really short as well... Although arguably it's better to start short and get a feel for good, if bare, storytelling, than to deliberately force yourself to write a 100,000 word epic when you have no idea what you're doing or how to get there.
     
  10. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    Ooops, epic fail, have changed it now.

    So much for checking my posts for errors before I submit
     
  11. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    I would definitely say go back and see where your characters lack dimension. See what you can do to create more depth in your characters.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You may not have a story that can fill a novel. Sometimes, a novel is simply not the right container for the story.

    But if there really is potential for a novel in a story, consider introducing complications. Your story may be progressing in too straight a path to the conclusion. Introduce conflicts, bith internal and external, and reversals (setbacks or other unanticipated complications). These will also increase tension and energy to your story.

    If your novel is close to an acceptable length, you may be able to find scenes that are too rushed, and flesh them out a bit. But this won't help if you're at a third of the length you need. At 25K, the problems with the manuscript are organic, not cosmetic.

    You should plan on your first draft being ten or twenty percent longer than what you will submit. New writers' manuscripts benefit more from cutting out fat than from bulking up.
     
  13. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    thanks for all the replies, i definitely think there's enough in my story to build a full length novel.
    I took all your tips into consideration and i'm getting back to work after 2 days without writing.
     

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