1. Ziku
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    Ziku Member

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    What's the secret to elongation?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ziku, Oct 18, 2008.

    Well, my primary concern with my writing thus far has been I am really just writing ideas right now. No matter how hard I try, I find myself stuck with chapters no longer then a few pages. I am on the first half of the fourth part of my series, I am at no more then seventy pages. I have no intention of publishing the version I am working on right now, it is little more then a rough draft at this point, but I'm afraid when I want to begin the final version, I won't know how.

    How do I make chapters out of these little exscripts my writing is currently full of?
     
  2. Scarlett_156
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    Scarlett_156 Active Member

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    Don't be concerned about it. Just keep writing until you are at the end. I hope this was helpful. yours in Chaos, Scarlett
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Consider making your own zine if you can't get it to the length that the publishers who would take it if it were long enough. I've met writers who eventually got regular book deals out of it.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's a matter of figuring out WHY your stories come out too short. Maybe you need more description, or maybe you are telling instead of showing. Or you could be allowing your characters to take too direct a path to their goal, lacking good obstacles for them to overcome.

    There's really no one solution that applies to all reasons for writing that is too condensed. The brevity is not the problem - writing concisely is a vurtue. The feeling that it is too lean is almost certainly a symptom of another issue.
     
  5. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well you should use as many words/pages as needed to tell the story. If you want it to be longer, then consider adding more to the plot or changing up the scenery a little.
     
  6. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    If you want to tell the reader more, then tell the reader more. But don't repeat yourself. I can understand how it can be difficult because I also have the same problem.

    I am just finishing a book by Stephen King which takes place between 18 hours and in one room and with pretty much 1 human character. Oddly enough it was 400+ pages and opened my eyes about going into deep detail. Not just about the surroundings but about character details too. The book was Gerald's Game and I would only recomend it to adults. It can be pretty graphic.
     
  7. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    I can only offer advice from my own experience, but, write down what you have as it is to you now. If you have it all, then write it all. Then, walk away.

    Stay away from it for weeks at least, or enough time to change your "mood."

    Then return and edit, you'll have "different eyes" that will make things more obvious to you.

    And, if you feel your piece is still to brief, then repeat the previous two steps.
     
  8. Sephie913
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    Sephie913 Member

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    I'd say, keep writing.. Keep reading. Your skill level will advance more quickly than you might expect, and, chances are, the solution will become apparent. I had the same problem with my book- I had a good idea where it would end, and thought it might be two hundred pages in. I am now 400 pages in, and I'm worried that I'm only halfway to the end.
     
  9. penhobby
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    penhobby Contributing Member

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    I like my chapters to be at least 10 pages or longer, unless I am introducing a concept that will have a deeper impact if it is cut short, in which case I have in the past written a half page chapter, but I have only done this once. I guess it depends on the story.

    I hope you will eventually discover that there is no advice or self-help book that can take the place of your mind, so don’t discount the answer that is within you. I say this because I have a feeling Cogito is right about this. Go back, dig deeper and search harder for the reason as to why your story is having trouble breaking through your mind and into written word.
     
  10. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's no "secret" to making a story reach a certain length. The plot simply dictates it's own end, and if you start with a short story plot, the end result will be a short story. Attempting to expand it beyond its natural length is wasted effort because it doesn't change the story . . . it's just empty filler. Go back to square one. Review your plot. Is it shallow -- more of a scene or two than a substantial plot? What are the barriers that need to be overcome in your story? Are there enough believable obstacles to carry a reader through a full length novel? If not, then don't improvise. Just expand your plot.
     
  11. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Don't bother thinking about publication so early in the game, and keep writing. And keep writing and keep writing.

    Years ago my writing style used to be very spare and my novels were quite short. Over time, through more and more and more writing, I learned how to use description, subplots, characterization, etc. etc. I learned this all through just writing and writing and writing. Sometimes experience trumps any other kind of advice or technique you might try, and it's sure better than padding a story.

    You'll have to resign yourself to possibly practicing for years. That's what it takes sometimes.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sounds to me like you need to do more reading/studying of the best-written novels in the genre you're workikng in... and/or that you don't have a good enough story to sustain a novel-length work...

    and if you're only writing 'ideas' now, why are you talking/worrying about 'chapters' or the number of pages?... start out by outlining your plot and when you have a good plot and subplots worked out, then it's time to start writing the book...

    till then, see if you can put your ideas in some sort of order, that you can flesh out and make work as a novel...
     
  13. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    What NaCl is true in my experience...if the plot is right for a short story, attempting to stretch it will show unfavorably.

    There is nothing wrong with outlining, getting ideas together, doing some writing with an eye toward future pubication, but it sounds as if you're still working at refining the basics of story telling. Work through this project. Maybe it'll be ready for pubication some day...maybe not. But in any case you'll learn from it and your next effort will mostl likely demonstrate it.

    Terry
     
  14. Helmut_II
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    Helmut_II Member

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    Trying to do extensive work on the problem is just work that won't achieve an end.

    I used to deal with that problem, but then once I just gave up and kept writing and writing I started to deal with a whole new problem:

    Keeping the bastards short!

    So I wouldn't worry and just keep doing what you're doing.

     
  15. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    If you alternate between description, dialog, action, feelings, and thoughts, I think you might find your chapters growing in length. That is don't forget to do those things.

    Think about a scene. Say it is a simple one. Man walks into a coffee shop. While waiting in line a little kid sitting at a table keeps making faces at him. At first he is not in the mood, but the kid is cute, and he plays along. The mother of the child notices this exchange and she smiles. It leads the two adults into a conversation, and they hit it off.

    That scene could easily be 3-5 pages, if I take the time to alternate between description, action, dialog, thoughts, and feelings.

    Based on the scene above, and following my own advice I wrote this down really quick. I didn't give much thought to words choices and the like, but I only wanted to show how it can quickly take up words. I didn't even get to the part where the kid starts making faces.

    Jim stood before the glass doors of the coffee shop. As he closed his umbrella, and shook the water off of it, he whispered under his breath, “Getting sick of the rain.” It was not that Jim hated rain in general, but it had been raining relentlessly, day in and day out. The rain worked against Jim’s otherwise optimistic and otherwise cheerful mood.

    Pushing the door open, he breathed in the scent of assorted brewing coffees that he loved so much. It seemed to erase part of the gloomy grey sky that clouded his mind.

    The small shop could comfortably fit twenty people. Red round tables were where people sat and drank their morning coffee. He glanced around and saw an old man with more wrinkles that he thought possible, a woman in a blue dress reading her news paper, and a sort of funny looking kid sitting opposite from his blonde mother.

    Then he noticed the line. Five people in line, he thought. Not so bad I guess. I have time.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Bottom line, bigger ain't always better.
     
  17. Only Sissies Write
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    If you can keep up the short chapters to the end, all you'll have to do is make it longer. A few tips though, not from my experience writing but my experience reading: description is important but shouldn't be overdone. I mean, in a lot of books, especially old ones, the style is long, pointless description in which no action really occurs. Dialogue is always a good way to improve length, as well as monologue. Flashbacks, more stuff happening...all that stuff is pretty good. Look at Alexandre Dumas. I recently read The Three Musketeers. It's over 700 pages long, but never boring. He just has a lot of action going on.

    Of course, as Cogito said,
    It doesn't have to be too long, you know?
     
  18. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    While Ncl and others are correct, the best advice i got years ago from J.M. Dillard was to approach each chapter as a "short story" of their own within the novel. There should be something that "climaxes" each chapter before you move to another one. I mean, that's how I try to write...I want each chapter to have its own beginning, middle and distinct end before moving on.

    However, my biggest advice would be to read, read, read, especially the authors who write what you write...that way you can learn from them what works, doesn't work, etc etc. Once you do that, you'll see how to make your chapters longer.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ok, I can't pass by this thread one more time without doing this.

    An ingredient found in the soft drink Gingold.

    Now let's see who picks up on the reference (no fair using search engines!) :)
     
  20. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    neat character reference, but I did have to cheat to find it...:p
     
  21. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    A really good book that has short chapters and is about 700 pages long is Swan's Song, by Robert McCammon.
     
  22. Emerald
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    Emerald Contributing Member

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    That's not the joke I would've made...

    But my mind seems to be more guttered than you people...
     
  23. kcs
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    kcs New Member

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    Flesh out the characters a little. Flashbacks are an easy way to do this. Don't overdo it.
     
  24. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I suggest reading novel length stories and seeing how the author moves you from the begining to the middle and from the middle to the end.

    The more you read the more you can see the succesfull implementation of movement from one point to another the more you can understand how to do it for yourself.
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Psst - A clue to go with Gingold: Ralph Dibney.
     

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