1. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    Word Count

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by booksandnoodles, Mar 14, 2016.

    Hi! I am very obsessive over word count, to the point where I just feel frustrated writing you could say. I've shown different editors my writing and it hasn't really helped me with anything. I have stories that could have the potential to be long, but usually stop under the 50,000 word count amount. I would really love to see my writing reach higher than that, like 80,000 or even 100,000. Most people fancy long stories so it makes my writing feel like crap you could say. People tell me there might be something 'blocking' me, but I feel nothing like that at all! I've tried to plan out my stories, planning them chapter by chapter, and it still doesn't work. I'm a teenager by the way if you were wondering, and i've been writing since I was 12. Do you have any tips for this?
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can usually add words by adding depth. Think about your characters and try to figure out ways to make everything more difficult for them! Make sure you really understand why they're doing what they're doing, and then make sure you convey that to readers.
     
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  3. BoddaGetta
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    BoddaGetta Active Member

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    How quickly do your characters achieve what they want or need? Not having enough obstacles or conflict that stumps them tends to make for a shorter tale. Also, do you elaborate on their reactions and feelings to events happening? How about their interactions with one another? How elaborate are they? Do you describe what they are doing around dialogue? Actions can show feelings better than just stating "she was sad with grief" outright. Describe how the loss feels physically, maybe how she is reminded of it when looking at belongings of the person she lost. That adds on a lot more words than the 5 I gave an example with.

    Don't obsess with word counts either. Many authors never write huge tomes and still tell a fantastic story. So don't get so hung up over it, but do make sure that you are giving enough interaction, conflict/resolution, and description.

    Welcome, by the way!
     
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  4. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    That's true! But then I get accused of adding too much words :)
     
  5. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    Thank you!! I definatly try to elaborate on the events and put more actions than words. It might be the fact that they solve their need faster than normal. I usually have one goal for my character, and I try to put a lot of obstacles, and it still falls short. A book that I thought did really well was "The Rest of Us Just Live Here." It had one simple goal, but it was so easy for the writer to drag it out. I try not to obsess over it but I would love to write and 80,000 book one day, and I just would like my stories to be longer in general.
     
  6. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    I'm just going to bump this...
     
  7. Michael Pless
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    Michael Pless Active Member

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    I tend not to worry about the length of a story and though I'm nowhere near George Martin's word count, my novels tend to be long-ish.

    I feel that if you have given your characters depth and there are sub-plots, plus you've used a structure similar to the Author's Salon 6-Act structure (though any reasonable and accepted structure will do), plus given sufficient detail to the settings, characters, actions, thoughts, emotions, and importantly, dialogue, it would be difficult to complete a novel in 50 kilowords or less.

    Do you have much dialogue in your stories? It is great for giving readers an insight into a character.

    There needs to be rising action in a successful novel/story. You could try watching Witness with Harrison Ford, and make note of the rising action, call to adventure, sub-plots, complications, the wise old man, the turning points (the second one is when For "whacks" a young hoodlum) and so forth. There are similar things in the original Star Wars Trilogy (not the rubbish that came after it). Think Han Solo and carbonite, O-Ben Wan Kenobi (however it's spelt) as the wise old man, and how hard it was to blow up the Death Star in the final movie - obstacles just seemed to spring up!

    What of the plan or outline for your novel(s)? How detailed are they?

    I have a bit of spare time while I ponder some feedback for my current work, and will happily take a look at something of yours if you'd like.
     
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  8. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    I hate to say it but you write longer stories by... Writing a longer story. By putting more obstacles in the way of your characters you get a longer story. No, you shouldn't just be adding stuff in to string your story out but if it's still well written and fits the story then it's not the worst thing in the world. I don't want to make any huge pronouncements about your work but it sounds like you're rushing a bit to get to that end point; that's understandable because that's the exciting, climactic stuff but that's only going to really pay off if it's a struggle to get there.

    So, look for more things that your characters can struggle to overcome. Maybe it's their inner deamons, maybe it's more explosions but just having stuff to overcome will help you get a better pacing and get you towards a longer book. Length isn't the be all end all but I would definitely say 50k is a bit slender.

    I have the opposite problem; I always have WAY too much in my books. I had to cut 110k words from one project. But maybe you can benefit from seeing how I ended up with twice as many words as I wanted. Firstly, just let yourself write. Let yourself go off the beaten path and explore whatever stuff comes up as you write. When you hint at something from a characters background explore it a bit, flesh it out and see where it takes you. Yes, that's going to take you away from the plot. That's ok. Being too focused on the plot is your problem. Secondly; give your characters some quiet time. Between intense scenes let your characters relax and talk about other stuff.

    Finally, push your characters from multiple axis. Don't just have one conflict between the hero and the villain; have something else too that's also pressing on your main character that he has to deal with too. In my books I'm just stacking up horrible things until my characters crack, but even in more plot focused things you should have multiple, competing sources of stress that prevent characters from just taking the simplest route to the bad guys. Look at a movie like Die Hard where Bruce Willis isn't just Ramboing around a building killing everyone; his wife is in there. He can't just storm in there and kill Alan Rickman, he has to sneak around even though that takes him on a circuitous route to the final showdown. These confounding factors will help you take a more complex route to the end as well as put your characters in complex emotional situations that require more nuanced characterizations, which you can show by giving them some quite time (to cry or what have you) and giving them some emotional resonance to things in their past.

    Hopefully these will help you get where you want to be.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
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  9. Rickey D. Clay Jr.
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    Rickey D. Clay Jr. Member

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    The first draft of that manuscript I recently finished started off as a 50k novel. I swore that was all there was. I don't like to force anything. So I didn't want to add more chapters and words that didn't mean anything. But I knew there wasn't enough meat in my story. My genre averages 70k-100k words per novel. So I had to find out why I was falling so short.

    Of course, I did my casual reader read of my manuscript and caught things chapter after chapter. I'm not speaking about revisions or edits (which of course there was that). I noticed the things about my characters that I knew and the subplots that I knew because I created them. I left too many things out there for the reader to surmise. I'm an artist at heart, so yes, I love open interpretation to any work I do. However, I couldn't use that as an excuse for my lazy portrayal of a story that I really believe in.

    I revisited my initial theme when I started the book. When I noticed that the subplots and character backstories that were lacking in the 50k version of my manuscript were almost directly connected to my issue of a soft theme and small word count I got to typing. I'm so glad I did.

    My story was linear. And I don' t want to be a story teller, I want to be a novelist.

    My suggestion would be to consider your theme. Did you accomplish its implementation? Did you put too much responsibility on the readers' imagination?

    I hope everything works out! Keep it up.
     
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  10. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Just try to meet a quota every day and you'll see the difference. 2,000 to 3,000 is a great productive level of daily word count- that's how Anne Rice and Stephen King produce novels so quickly. They meet that quota and discard what they don't like. Some writers think it's churning out words but really it's one of the best methods to improve. It helps when you have deadlines and makes you generally a more productive person. Just set up some sort of quota. It doesn't have to be 2,000 to 3,000- it could be 750 to a 1,000. Whichever works for you. Just try to bump it up higher and higher when you think you can increase the momentum but it needs to be a gradual process. I use to only hit less than 250 but now i easily reach a 1,000 a day. My highest so far is 3,900 words in one day. So just try that and see how it works out. I also suggest reading more too ^-^.
     
  11. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    Thank you!! It might be the fact that I have a lack of subplots or not even obstacles for my protagonist. I'm going to try giving them more and see how I could create a domino effect with that. Thank you!
     
  12. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    I'll try that, i'm kind of inconsistent with my writing you could say. I spend most of my time reading, but barely writing. I'll try to balance both!
     
  13. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    Wow, thank you for the tips! Writers always tell me not egg out more information, but I think i'll try it. But i'll make sure it's relevant to the plot of course. When you mean by being too focused on plot, should I just write and see where it evolves?
     
  14. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    The outline of my novel is not that detailed. In a way, I've realized planning out my novel too much made me bored. Maybe my rising action might be the fault, I don't really add that much information. And that'd be great if you could see my work, how could I send it to you?
     
  15. Michael Pless
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    Michael Pless Active Member

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    Easiest way would be to PM me. I've tried attaching files in the past but failed - you might have better luck. If that fails, I can always PM you my email address.

    I can well understand you wanting to get on with the writing rather than get mired in the planning. It happens to me too. But I find it difficult to write if I don't know what is going to happen next so I plan a fair bit. I'm nearing the completion of my second novel and I will shortly embark on my third. I believe I will spend a great deal of time with the planning stage - perhaps a month.
     
  16. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    Might just bump this. Love to hear more opinions
     
  17. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    Honestly, you just have to throw down words and start tying things together and a sideplot might emerge that might just become the focus of a full work. I've done that three times and the implications were pretty profound on my writing ability. Not everyone likes staying in the same consistent universe, but I find it tougher challenge then just practicing on something like fanfiction.

    Not going to kid you, but fanfiction is like the training wheels for some authors since you are probably intimately familiar with the universe and can easily pull a subplot or other aspects to work on. Though I regard it as a crutch, it could be useful to try and dream about how different characters would react to different threats. Breaking through the "I can't do it..." mentality is one third of the mental battle.
     
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  18. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I was a teenager, the most I could write was about one page, so you're doing okay... more than okay, in my estimation. But I'm no one to pattern your life after. ;)

    Complication
    Reassessment

    Read Dwight V. Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer. He talks about the bare bones of storytelling. Oh, and don't be put off by the first chapter. It's about grammar, good English, etc. but it's over before it gets too bogged down.
     
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  19. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    i'll try that, thank you!
     
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  20. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    bummp again because I love to hear what others have to say
     
  21. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    I can't outline my story. I've tried, but I could only get as far as what I'd already written (in an earlier version). What I do is take my story one step at a time. If I get inspiration for something, I throw it in there. I also constantly think, "How can I make life more difficult for her? How can I add some action/adventure/interest? Can I add anything to something that's already in the story?" Those questions REALLY help me add words and story.

    When I was at the 18k word mark, I realized that I could easily end the story in another 10k or so words. There really wasn't much left to be said, but I really, really want this novel to be 80-100k words. I took a break. A long break, about a month. I read books, watched TV, and worked on another story idea. All the while I kept this one on the backburner. I didn't think too hard on it, but I kept reviewing it in my mind, asking those questions. Finally, I remembered one little detail (a character needed warm clothes) I could use to start the next chapter. It was a very small challenge for the characters to overcome, but it was something. Now I'm 33k words into it and I've added another character, several new obstacles, and I know what to do if I need a larger word count.

    I don't know how well your stories are written, but one of the things you can look for is story flow. When I need to iron out the flow, I end up adding a lot of words.

    All that said, I don't mind reading shorter books. In fact, I often specifically look for a nice, easy read (in word count). I don't like to put a book down once started, so I can't get any writing done once I start. A regular sized fantasy novel takes me a day or more to finish, and sometimes I just don't want to spend that long a time away from my writing. If there's nothing wrong with your stories, nothing to fix or add, then I say don't worry about your lower word count. There are people who prefer smaller books! That 80-100k one will come to you when the time's right.
     
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  22. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    50k is a novella, and that is like 3-5 times longer than a short story. :p
    To make something 80-100k+, or novel length. Try adding more action, details, and depth. The latter two will help add a richness to your story. Even try adding small sub-plots, to add a little more conflict or interest for your characters/story.

    Now go forth brave writer, and do us proud and write a good story. You got this, now go write like a Boss! :cheerleader:
    Picardmakeitso..png
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
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  23. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    I'm on it!! :D
     
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  24. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    I'll try this method as well, thank you!!:bigsmile:
     
  25. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    You are a teenager and already writing 50k stories. You are doing just fine. Stick with it and write every day. The rest will come with time. As you write and read more, you will learn how to add detail with characterization, setting, and plot.

    Also, if a story feels right at 50k words, then maybe that is all there is. Adding more to a story for the sake of word count can sometimes make it worse. Some stories just aren't that long. Find what you love and write it.
     
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  26. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    My fantasy MS stalled at about... 50-60k words, I believe.
    Through rigorous editing and polishing it now sits at about 115k words (which is a good spot for a fantasy piece)

    Don't count your words until you're done and done with nothing to add or improve.
    Because then, it's the real word count.
     
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