1. Figurehead
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    Figurehead New Member

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    Under - Writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Figurehead, Jun 10, 2012.

    Frankly I see thousand-paged whoppers of novels and feel the urge to burn them. How can people write so much?
    I'm a minimalist. I prefer short, concise work, like Burroughs, Hemingway and Palahniuk. But when I write, I feel I'm only touching the tip of the iceberg. I omit details, jump over descriptions, and after writing for an hour I click word-count and I get five hundred words.

    Surely the veterans of this site have experienced this, and are willing to offer some advice?

    P.S
    Can anyone tell me the correct definition? I know it's not underwriting.
     
  2. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    This happens to me sometimes, but I also find times when I get extremely inspired and can punch out a good 3K in one sitting. And I agree, if I see a large book, it almost doesn't matter how well it's written; I probably won't be picking it up, let alone reading it.

    Maybe you shouldn't worry about getting the word count write on your initial try. If you are really not writing enough, you might be able to take care of that in revision. Contrary to what many here say, you don't ALWAYS go down in word count in revision. I had a novel at about 73K and after a few revisions, it was about 85/86K. I doubt it'd ever go up again, but sometimes the rush to get it down causes us to be a little sloppy and general. Maybe you should just let it come out in 500 words and then go back to it and see if it needs to be developed better.

    Of course, many here would love your minimalist approach and probably tell you to just go with it. I consider myself a little above a minimalist but without being in the other extreme either. Maybe you shouldn't worry about how much it is you are writing and more about how good is it. Worry a bit less about volume and just focus on quality.
     
  3. growingpains
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    growingpains Member

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    Perhaps they write so much because they believe in the whole "show don't tell" concept of writing? Omitting details and jumping over descriptions is okay sometimes - like in Palahniuk's case, it gave his work more impact - but other times it's necessary. I think the amount of detail you add depends on the impact you want to make. Sometimes detail slows down plot if you use too much of it (in Stephen King's case) and other times if you don't use enough it leaves a writer confused.

    I don't think it's underwriting if you're using lack of detail as a tool to tell the story rather than something you just don't see as necessary.
     
  4. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    It's okay to only thing of shorter ideas. some say one day you'll get hit my this idea so grandiose you'll have to make it a novel.
    personally I think anything can become a novel. what I'm writing right now, is the story of two best friend being separated. that's the idea I had. I'm now at 30 000 words, and only half way trough the story.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Sounds like you're at risk of writing something your readers may not understand, if you skip everything except the very core of action and emotions.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Minimalism is as good a word as any, and I'm all in favor of it.

    I've seen more than one writer get wordier with age and fame, and the result are never an improvement. The two examples that first come to mind are Stephen King and Robert Heinlein. The longer their novels became, the duller and less focused.

    Never use twenty words when ten are fully adequate.
     
  7. maidahl
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    maidahl Banned

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    Keep it simple! Less is more sometimes, and being concise is such a turn-on!
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think there's plenty of room in literature for both short, punchy works and long, expansive, novels a reader can get happily lost in. Sure, as Cogito points out, some writers let their works get fat and flabby as they get older and more famous, but that doesn't mean it always happens. Some of the most celebrated novels ever written are long, and are long with good reason: War And Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, Gravity's Rainbow, most of Thomas Wolfe's work, etc.

    Also, there's nothing about brevity that makes it a virtue, unless you just don't like reading much and want to get through the damn book as quickly as possible. Many times I've read good short books that I wish were longer, and that I believe could have been longer without sacrificing quality. Rather, I think many of them could have benefited from more thorough and thoughtful explorations of their themes.

    I'm reminded of a quote from movie critic Roger Ebert: "No good movie can be too long, and no bad movie can be too short." Same holds for books.
     
  9. lallylello
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    lallylello Member

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    I love long books - as long as they're well written, of course. Reading a long book is like having a friend come and stay for a couple of weeks. You come home from work and settle down to read already knowing who the characters are, what the setting is etc. I also tend to slow down as the book comes to end so I can delay our sad parting. (I have been known to weep when I get to the end - not because of the story but because I'm going to miss my new friends. Pathetic, I know!)
    Currently reading Stephen King's The Stand - only 1154 pages left to go! :rolleyes:
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do the same sometimes, usually in the very first draft. That is one of the things I fix in revision. I go over it all again, now that I have the skeleton of the story, and I add explainations to things I've just mentioned, I dig deeper into thoughts of the characters, I develop the descriptions of the setting etc etc. My first drafts are quite a sad read because of this, but in the end of draft three or so you can definitely see a story taking shape. be patient with yourself. this is how some writers work. besides, as the others have pointed out, minimalism is a positive thing.
     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the first instance I'd say write to the length that fits the story and your style. If it turns out to be a short story, not a novel, then market it as a short story. I'm heartily sick of reading books that have clearly been padded so that they're thick enough to be noticed on a bookstore shelf (or worse, that are that long because they've not been edited properly so they're tediously repetitive and rambling). The real nuisance is if it turns out to be novella length, because it's hard to find a market for them..
     

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