1. Published on Amazon? If you have a book, e-book, or audiobook available on Amazon.com, we'll promote it on WritingForums.org for free. Simply add your book to our Member Publications section. Add your book here or read the full announcement.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Dismiss Notice
  1. deadrats

    deadrats Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    395

    essays and narrative nonfiction 15K words

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by deadrats, Aug 10, 2017.

    I've recently expanded my search of publications that take essays and narrative nonfiction. One thing I came across that I wasn't prepared for is how long some of these places either want or allow their essays to be. Try 15,000 words. That's about 60 pages, no? I ordered an issue from one of these places so I could check it out. Has anyone here ever done a 15,000-word essay? It sounds like a phd requirement to me. Still, after I get more familiar with this form, I would like to give it a try. I've got this one essay that I've been working on that just feels short and rushed at just over 5,000 words, which is already too long for some places.
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    2,232
    Likes Received:
    2,608
    Location:
    The People's Republic of New Hampshire
    Jeez, that is long. My undergrad thesis was maybe 10k? PhD would have probably been 40k ish? Not sure... dissertations in history can be novel length sometimes.

    What would you write about? About the only things I could do would be writing, music, and restaurant operation... maybe.
     
    Xboxlover likes this.
  3. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2017
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Utah
    This sounds interesting to me as well. Let me know how it goes. I was going to college for a while and want to eventually return and work on my English credit some more. I'm curious is this for school eventually or just an on your own thing. I did a paper on a topic of my choice a few years back on the problem of homelessness in America. I researched all the different factors that cause the problem and even had my own story to add to it. My essay topic was a very personal choice for me because people often look at those on the street and tend to assume most of them are there because they don't want to work or are on drugs but drugs are usually a symptom at best sometimes they can be a cause as well, but I wouldn't say a majority where I am living at. Mental illness seems to out shine all of the other problems in my area, with the lack of real mental health support. People often don't want to look at what led the person there. So it was a long paper I think I ended up going over my required 10 pages in class which my teacher told me he'd usually dock but we had a cool teacher who would proof read and such. He felt I didn't need to cut much from it. So despite going over my limit I and not getting penalized for it, I wonder if some topics deserve a better look and need more pages to say what they need to say.
     
    CerebralEcstasy and jannert like this.
  4. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    9,111
    Likes Received:
    8,852
    Location:
    Scotland
    Well, considering people write whole non-fiction books on topics like homelessness, I'd say yes, some need more pages to say what they need to say. It all depends on what kind of depth is in the article or essay, I suppose.

    I'm the wordy sort who probably wouldn't have much problem hitting 15,00o words. But it probably seems like a lot to people who are used to writing short stories that take 3-5000 words. I guess it just takes a different kind of mindset. (It's why I don't write short stories. :))
     
  5. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2017
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Utah
    I'm flexible. I can do longer or short just fine. I like creative stuff more than expository stuff, but can if I put my best foot forward. I think it's a great skill to learn for college papers and helps people learn how to market their idea's better. If your able to learn to debate or argue chances are you can lead a team in an industry. XD
     
    jannert likes this.
  6. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    9,111
    Likes Received:
    8,852
    Location:
    Scotland
    It took me so long to UNLEARN expository writing. I had that mastered for high school and university. When I started creative writing I had to chuck all those rules out the window—and it was not easy. I felt I had to explain everything. I still stick with the habit of making sure I don't leave ends dangling, so it wasn't a complete change. But it was hard to just let go of the rules.

    Now, I think my creative writing practice might actually make expository writing easier, if I were ever to take it up again. No need for an expository piece to be boring as hell, right? As long as you stick to a structure that puts forward the problem, discusses the problem then reaches a conclusion, there's no reason it can't be done in everyday language with a little bit of emotional content as well. Eh?
     
    Xboxlover likes this.
  7. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2017
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Utah
    I like your thinking. I like the idea of transitioning other useful techniques to other types of writing. I honestly like creative writing better but I won't unlearn what I have so far. I tend to compartmentalize it, in case I need it for college again. I think it's a good skill to have. I find it hard to write creatively but easy. I have an easy time coming up with stories and plots, but I have a hard time finding my style/voice for this type of writing. It's particularly hard for me sometimes to just sit down and write something and have it come out right. (Sorry for the run on sentence but at the same time not.) I went too long without practicing creative writing and lost a lot of what I'd already learned.
     
    jannert likes this.
  8. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    9,111
    Likes Received:
    8,852
    Location:
    Scotland
    What made the breakthrough for me was when I decided I would write whatever the hell I liked and see how it turned out. After all, I didn't need to show my work to anybody, or even let on that I was writing. So I just cast off the rules, regulations, and the worry about what other people would think, and wrote what I wanted to. I made lots of mistakes, in terms of do's and don'ts—I didn't start studying the basics of creative writing until after my first draft was finished—but what I created was my own writing voice. I didn't know if I could do it, till I actually did it. Finding out that I could do it was an amazing experience.
     
    Xboxlover likes this.
  9. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    132
    Location:
    The great white north.
    You definitely didn't have the same professors I did.

    In a Shakespeare class I once wrote an essay of about 15,000 - 16,000 words discussing Shakespeare's sonnets. Random fact: all of Shakespeare's sonnets work out to about 17,000 words combined. I've definitely spent hours doing more rewarding things.
     
    jannert likes this.
  10. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    9,111
    Likes Received:
    8,852
    Location:
    Scotland
    Oh yeah, I hear you. The subject of the essay might be pretty dry indeed. (I'm a fan of Shakespeare but not the sonnets myself. That assignment would have killed me.)

    However, it's the writing style of the essay writer that I was talking about here. I remember my expository essays always contained every big word I knew, and my sentences ran on ...and on and on and on. I now know better. Use normal words. Break up the sentences so they don't all contain umpteen subordinate clauses. If your instructor is a stickler for perfect grammar, don't start sentences with And or But—but that doesn't mean you can't liven up the writing a bit.
     
  11. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    132
    Location:
    The great white north.
    Most of my profs weren't too bad, but I had one that insisted that in scholarly writings, the author should have no voice. They should just make an argument and relay facts. Therefore, anything might have possibly been construed as fun or interesting was, in her regard, the highest of academic sins.
     
    jannert likes this.
  12. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    9,111
    Likes Received:
    8,852
    Location:
    Scotland
    Ach well, when in Rome....
     
  13. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    132
    Location:
    The great white north.
    I think I would have preferred a knife to the back... or twenty three of them. I'm fairly certain they'd have been much cheaper and would have been over much faster.
     
    jannert likes this.
  14. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2017
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Utah
    It really does depend on the professor. I had a teacher in college that was so liberal she failed a paper of mine because I was conservative. The reason I found out was that I took it to another professor and showed him the syllabus and he told me that was why. He told me I needed to protest it to the dean. She was always bragging about obama care and how her husband was the one working on the website for obama care. So I'm not bringing this up to offend anyone at all. I'm just stating that some teacher can be bad teachers. A good teacher doesn't let their bias get in the way of their teaching.
    A good teacher knows when creativity can help an argument. Here's my evidence: The same teacher I had check my paper became my next English teacher in college. When practicing a debate in class my husband helped me write an argument and I told the teacher I had help and he commended me for it. I told him my husband used to write for the paper and I used him to help my learning to the full extent. He told the class getting help for learning purposes and having someone fact check and review your work is an amazing way to learn and grow in writing. Well in part of my argument on free speech I opened with a humorous line from Princess Bride. No one laughed except for the teacher. No one got it, but then something special happened. The teacher used my debate as a teaching tool in class. Using creativity in arguments, and in public speaking to make a connection with the audience, it helps them open up to you and be willing to listen to you. when this happens is also allows the speaker to become more comfortable with the audience. It was the coolest lesson ever. So I learned that argumentive papers don't have to be stale and can be entertaining.
     
  15. deadrats

    deadrats Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    395
    This isn't for school. I thought I said that it was hopefully for publication in a literary journal. I've gone just about as far as a writer can go in school. It's time to play with the big dogs.
     
  16. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2017
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Utah
    Good Luck to you.
     
    deadrats likes this.
  17. deadrats

    deadrats Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    395
    Thanks!

    A journal called Five Points is one of the places that takes essays and narrative nonfiction up to 15,000 words. There are others too.
     
    Xboxlover likes this.

Share This Page