While rewriting a project, currently called Crimson Queen, it hit me that I only have less than 40k words. Plus, it’s a fantasy novel. Double punch. Make it triple. Right off the bat I knew that I could beef up my description a bit, perhaps add some flashbacks, and do a little more world building. When I really think about, perhaps my plot is too linear and needs more conflict than what I currently have.
Thinking back on what must have been my thought process was that I was more focused on the plot and making sure I didn’t get lost somewhere in the chapters. In practice, I think I was off to a good start. Most first drafts aren’t going to be perfect and mine is no exception. Perfection comes in many rewrite (IMHO). I talked about telling versus showing a few weeks ago and this ties back to that. Rewriting parts of a book that shows what the character is going through (he was anxious) with good description (his heart thundered in his chest. Every breath was strained) then it you add more words to your story.
Below are some suggestions that I have found, used and will used in future projects if the occasion calls for it again:
Have you ever gotten to a really good part in your story and you just wanted to put it on the page? I have. Just recently I wrote a scene where a Council looked over information and discussed about the explosion in town and, although I don’t have the full word count, I’m sure it is less than 500 words. It’s fine to want to have everything on paper but going back and rewriting the scene to add tension, conflict or something that moves the story forward will help on the long run.
I like subplots. To me, they add conflict and tension between characters that might even distract them from their main goal. It prevents the story from being too linear and they’re also a way for you to develop and/or flush out your character whether it’s your protagonist or not. Or you can develop these subplots further.
We interact with a lot of people over the course of the day and they have a story of their own. The people in your stories are no exception. I’m guilty of not giving my minor characters enough page time and they pop in and out because the plot demands it. Give them more page time and have them talk or interrupt your character when their on their way visit a family member in the hospital. Or something like that.
This kind of goes hand in hand in minor characters. These can be anyone from a friend from the past, a new guy, the guy that lives next door but you just noticed. There’s always an opportunity to complicate things for your character. That first prize art contest, have a new guy show up and he can paint/draw anything. Make him/her a rival and see where that goes.
Use with care. Beef up those scenes that might need an extra push to make the world seem alive. When your characters are talking, don’t let them stand on white space. Have them move around the room or store. Have them pick up things. Do you stand still when you talk to someone? I don’t.
Nothing should go according to plan. That’s a motto I live by. Well, not really but I do some times. Saying that, if your character is racing to the hospital (different example, I promise) because his/her friend just cut their finger on a razor, you bet you have to pull them over or have their tire get a flat. This does sound cruel but you get the gist. Nothing should be easy because it isn’t.
Anything else I miss? What do you do to increase your word count? What works for you? What doesn’t? Thanks for stopping bye. Until next time.
2 thoughts on “Increasing Word Count”
I realized the same thing in my novel. Thanks for the good advice.
Glad I could help.