1. 90bubbel

    90bubbel New Member

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    How to make my story longer

    Discussion in 'By Writing Form' started by 90bubbel, Mar 16, 2018.

    So im fairly new to serious writing and recently started to try to write a horror book but even after writing a for while im still at only 2.5k words and im scared that the story will end way before the word count is roughly where i would want it (60-70k words) and i was wondering if you guys had any tips for making a story last long or if it just happens naturally as you continue to write your story
     
  2. Alastair Woodcock

    Alastair Woodcock Member

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    I wouldn't worry too much about the word count. Your aim should be to write a great story, not to write a certain number of words. You might even find it works better as a short story. My advice would be: Don't set boundaries, break them.

    If you get stuck, you can always post what you've written here so advice can be given.
     
  3. GlitterRain7

    GlitterRain7 Galaxy Girl Contributor

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    If you're sure you want this story to be novel length, you need to have enough things happening that will make it novel length. If you need help with that, I suggest an outline. Even an outline with just a short paragraph of what needs to happen in each chapter will help. Also, check that you're describing things in enough detail.
     
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  4. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    You could try writing an outline for a book you know well, one that is similar in length and feel to what you want to write. That way you'll have a map for how much stuff happens. If the outline for your own story is coming up short, you can take a critical look at if it needs to be longer, if it is really that similar, or if you are glossing over dramatic and tense scenes you could put it.
     
  5. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You might be fine, as others have pointed out. Some stories work better as short ones.

    If you don't think that applies to you, then take a look back over what you've written. Are you just relating what happened? He did this, she said that, they went there, things went wrong, etc. You might be going through the story far too quickly, just creating an outline of sorts. That's not actually going to scare anybody very much.

    If that's the case, take one scene you've already written. If it's only a few hundred words long, see if you can expand it to a thousand words without actually altering what happens.

    In order to do that, you're going to have to slow it down.

    Slow does not mean boring. In fact, it means the opposite. It means you're taking the time to give enough detail, enough thought and feeling to create suspense and draw people in.

    For example, instead of just telling us where a scene is taking place—a deserted wooden house with broken windows at the end of the lane—let the characters tell us what they think of that place when they first come upon it. Does it scare them? Does it scare them right away, or are they just intrigued by it? If that's the case, why are they intrigued? Do they just love to explore old houses? Why? Do they know who used to live there? If so, what do they know about that person that makes the house intriguing?

    If they don't know who lived there, are they maybe looking for antique furniture? They see a couple of dusty rocking chairs through the broken window, and think ...hey, why not? Nobody's going to care. So they go inside. And then what happens? What do they see? Do they suddenly feel a chill? Or maybe there's a horrible smell.... Draw the scene out, by making us live it, along with your characters. Once you start doing this, I think you'll find the word count will jump a lot. And so will the reader's interest.
     
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  6. 90bubbel

    90bubbel New Member

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    alright thank you so much for your advice, but i also got another question, i was wondering if it would be a good stratetgy to try to get around 1 k words out each day, would you say thats to much to little or enough ?
     
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  7. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    You should probably start another thread to post your second question.
    To answer your first question; I had a story that ran out of interesting things, and that happened at 42000 words.
    I was asked by my editor, what happen after she got on the ship? I thought about it, and lo and behold there was the other half of my book.
    In the book I'm working on now I have a lot of characters with different points of view. I have also included several back stories that culminate at the resolution and the end.
    Lastly, add fluff, what does the scene look like? What is the characters wearing? and yada yada you get the point.
     
  8. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have no opinion on how many words a writer should produce in a day.

    Some famous writers set a goal for themselves in that department, and refuse to stop till they've produced X number of words, or worked for X number of hours. Others let weeks and months go by without writing a thing. Some work in bursts of inspiration. Still others write nonstop (except for eating and sleeping and doing essential chores) from start to finish. You'll only discover what works for you as you try different approaches.

    The only thing I believe is universally important about the writing process is that you finish what you write—however long that takes or whatever method you use. There is no point in producing a thousand words a day if you keep changing your mind about your stories, and keep starting new ones rather than completing the ones you've been working on. If you hit a snag or two—and you probably will—then figure out how to unsnag them. Story problem solving is part of the writing process, if you're writing fiction.

    Some people like to keep a couple of stories going at one time, while others like to stick to one story till it's done. Like the number of words you produce per day, the number of stories you work on at one time is entirely up to you. But to be taken seriously, you have to get into the habit of finishing what you start. Ideas for stories are one thing. A finished product you can publish is another. You've got to build a bridge between them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
  9. The Piper

    The Piper Senior Member

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    Largely treading the same ground here, but my advice regarding word count is: don't even look at it. Write your story, however you can, and finish it. When it's finished, look at that word count. Chances are your story will go through a couple (at least) of edits once it's finished before you're even halfway happy with it. These edits will either make it longer or shorter, depending on your writing style and what you want the outcome to be - if you find yourself adding description most of the time, your word count will double before you even notice.

    As for how much you can write a day - that really is down to you. It's best not to set goals in that respect unless that's the motivation you need. In my case, I find that once I get into a routine that works for me, that's all I need to keep me going. I wrote a lot of my last book on the bus in the mornings - 45 minutes a day, and that was the first book I ever finished and was happy with. It took me a while, but without that routine I would never have got halfway through it. Then when my phone started to lose battery - fast, blame Apple - I couldn't do that anymore, and I've really struggled to motivate myself to keep writing. To me, that shows that a routine is a good thing to have (until it stops working). Word goals or time goals don't work for me - but everyone's different.
     
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  10. Ulquiorra9000

    Ulquiorra9000 Member

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    As I put it, the important part is not how long your story is, but how much thematic content and depth it has. Some stories are very "dense", even if they're short, and give you something to think about. Other works can go on and on but are thin and shallow, or go in circles or come to dead stops several times. My least favorite book, "Brisingr", is totally guilty of this. It felt lethargic and intermittent.
     
  11. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    As others have said, don't worry about the size in your draft or fist few drafts... tighten what you have. And try to allow anything additional to come naturally instead of forced, though my stories have a tendency to act like short stories. :p
     
  12. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Contributor

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    Your first draft could very well be a short story length. It will contain the main arc of your story. The trick then is to flesh out aspects of that story by character building and side-plots.

    I recommend you go through your draft and ask yourself for each paragraph or even each sentence how you could make the story come alive more, what interesting character interactions could tell the story better.

    As the old saying goes "show, don't tell", so get rid of adverbs (all those pesky -ly words) and replace them with character interactions to paint a verbal picture. Develop your characters' personalities. Create a depth of history and lore, if set outside our current culture or time.

    In the end, you will find you have grown a monster story and then the task will be to prune it back again, sigh.
     
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  13. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not a big fan of treating writing as cinema, because that can lead to writing only what is seen and heard. If you write a novel as if it were a screenplay, the main element that a novelist has that a screenwriter doesn't have—detailing inner thoughts and feelings—doesn't come into play. This can make the writing seem flat and distanced. So there are pitfalls.

    However, if you think your story might be coming up short, I suspect you might be galloping along, just summarising what happened in the most efficient way possible. As if you were presenting news clips. They did this, she said that, then they went to (wherever) and this happened....

    It might help if you try to visualise each scene as you write it. Pretend you're making a movie of it. Drag it out a bit, and consider the shots you'll be making. You want each scene and each shot to have impact as well as simply make sense. So what would you choose to depict, and how much story time should each important scene take?

    How does it start? What are the characters doing when the scene opens? What do they look like? By this I don't mean height and weight and hair colour, I mean what kind of state are they in? Is their hair dripping, are they covered in mud? Are they wearing a dazzling white shirt and spotless black suit coat? Are they staring out the window, watching the clock, jumping at any unexpected sound? Hopping from foot to foot as somebody approaches? Pale cheeks and downcast eyes, refusing to speak to anybody? How are other characters who share the scene reacting to the appearance and behaviour of your main characters? Set the specific scene each time it changes, using these kinds of details. Depict these scenes ...don't just tell us what's in them. Let us 'see' what's in them, watch what happens, and draw our own conclusion about what it all means.

    Let us hear the whole of your conversations. Let us see what gestures are being made during the conversations and understand the pauses in the conversations. This means that YOU, the writer, need to pay attention to more than just the words the characters are saying. YOU need to watch the scene unfold, and include whatever you notice.

    Don't worry about over-writing, by the way. That's easily pared back during an edit. What is difficult during an edit is adding IN stuff you left out the first time. Try to be as complete as you can during your first draft. Really dig into what is happening in each scene and write what you see, feel, hear, and think. Depict how tiring it is for a character to walk up three flights of stairs, if that's important to the story. Give us a good impression of what your POV character is actually noticing (or thinks is important) about his surroundings. And, of course, give us a good sense of the background scenery as well. The 'location.' In other words, bring the scene to full life.

    You can then add in the POV character's thoughts and feelings, which you won't actually 'see' in a cinema, where you can only guess at them via facial expressions, tone of voice and other visual/audial clues. However, if you make a movie in your head as you write, you won't be quite so tempted to race us from plot point to plot point as you might be doing now. Take your time, and make sure you're bringing the important story elements to life—as moviemakers do. This isn't a series of news clips or soundbites. It's a movie. A full emotional experience for the reader. Don't just deliver a load of information—The End.

    .........

    Here's a little trick which works for me sometimes, if I'm having trouble visualising a scene I need to write. I pick some music that would make a good soundtrack to the scene, and play that while I write. It's amazing how that trick can focus heart and mind on the scene itself. It's another boost from cinema that can help with writing a novel (or short story.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  14. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Forget word count, write the story. See what you have when you are finished. Then think about whether you can flesh the story out further (specifically developing the characters and other aspects of the story) or you just need to call it a short story and move on to the next project.

    But mostly don't obsess over word counts. It's the story that matters.
     
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  15. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    It sounds like this is your first time, so I agree that you shouldn't worry about word counts, and should just slow down and make sure you're allowing your readers to really get immersed in the story.

    (For later on, after you've finished this piece and maybe some others, I would absolutely worry about word count. But not yet.)

    As soon as you're able, post a bit for critique and we can probably give you an idea of whether you're on the right track or not.
     
  16. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I wish I had your problem I'm on Chapter 48 and I know there is still a few more chapters till I can type the End. Fortunately I know I'm in the home stretch.

    Some novels are short. Nothing wrong with that. Especially if you've said what you wanted to. But if you really, really want to expand your story there are two ways -- subplot -- a side character has a problem. Think of the Shining -- Hallorann and the boy, versus Jack and his dementia. Or you can take your story and give it a major twist -- in Psycho the major twist was the mc died and was replaced but it doesn't have to be that major. Think of an action that will delay the stories out come. A problem to foist on the mc. I remember in this wonderful old horror book -- The Breeze Horror there is this chemical rain that falls and turns people into disease ridden 'creatures' that are treated like animals until the finally die. The twist was not only do they not die, but they return with psychic abilities.
     

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