Tag Archives: editing

A Writer’s Path Writers Club!

Hello everyone! A fellow blogger of A Writer’s Path, Ryan Lanz, has announced the launch of his new initiative: A Writer’s Path Writers Club.

After looking at the writing market for years, he noticed a need for a Writers Club of this kind. Sure, there are Facebook groups, writers groups, etc., but there aren’t many associations that are more than just a gathering of writers.

He wanted to create a club where the sole purpose of it is to solve headaches for writers. Here are some of the headaches he’s looking to solve:

  • It’s hard to find reviewers for my book
  • Writing-related service providers (editors, book cover designers, etc.) are expensive
  • I don’t know if my writing is good enough and I need feedback
  • I need more promotion for my book
  • I don’t know if my blurb or summary is good enough
  • Not enough readers know my book exists
  • I don’t know enough about what other successful authors have done to be successful
  • I don’t know if my book cover encourages readers to purchase it

And of course, there are fun stuff to be had too, such as giveaways and contests. Here’s the full list of benefits for the Writers Club:

      • Discounts from writer-related service providers, such as editors, book cover designers, proofreading services, ghostwriters, social media marketing, book advertising, template design, audio book narration, and more.
      • Contests and giveaways for free services and books.
      • free book promotion posts on A Writer’s Path blog every year(example here). Every post generates a social media shout-out of your book to my Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Tumblr, and Google+ account (total of 12,900 followers). he’ll set reminders for himself to notify you when your next post is ready.
      • Exclusive articles not seen on the A Writer’s Path blog.
      • Access to free blurb coaching.
      • Book of the Month” lottery. Winner gets their book featured for a month on A Writer’s Path blog in a tab along the top of every page/post. Also included is a promotional post featuring their book, summary, cover, and purchase links to all 25,000+ subscribers. One drawing per month.
      • Help to find you reviewers and critique partners (optional).
      • A free copy of his eBook, The Idea Factory: 1,000 Story Ideas & Writing Prompts to Find Your Next Bestseller. ($2.99 value)
      • Free critique of your book summaries and book covers (optional).
      • Insider tips from published authors in short, bite-sized articles.
      • Links to free books normally at full price.
      • Opportunities to show off your book to the other members.
      • Exclusive author interviews.

Feel free to check out A Writer’s Path Writers Club here.

Faces

HeadGraphicOracle

Writing Book #2

An odd atmosphere has enveloped my writing life recently. Aside from the fact that I found myself practically unable to write after the release of “The Black Oracle” and I took a nearly two-month break from productivity wherein I dabbled in random short story endeavors that resulted in no finished products, I am now in a new writing phase.

I’m attempting to write a book #2.

No, it’s not a sequel to “The Black Oracle” (cuz seriously, I’ve been asked that a lot recently). I have played with the idea of writing a sequel or a prequel or both to “The Black Oracle”, but right now, it feels best as a stand-alone, and though I won’t say never, I will say not now.

In fact, my book #2 is for that Inception-meets-The-City-Trilogy new adult speculative fiction I completed back in May. Further, I have a second book #2 for my middle grade paranormal/horror novel that I wrote over this past winter (even though the first book is trapped in editing hell where I toil fruitlessly to get the tone right).

So, I’m in a weird place. After writing stand-alone novels for almost all of my writing life (the better part of eight years), I am facing the fact that I am writing not one but TWO sequels. It’s odd. I feel like it’s akin to raising the dead. In terms of the Inception-meets-The-City-Trilogy story, I knew very early on it would be a series, and I currently have four books planned. But after reaching a point of finality on the first one this past May, resurrecting the tone and the characters and the plot feels kind of foreign — almost unnatural to me.

It’s not that I feel directionless, I just worry I might ruin the stories by adding more to them. I mean, what if subsequent novels don’t live up to the first one? What if there is no more story to tell, and I’m just stretching it out for who knows what reason?

How did he even write so many?!

How did Lemony Snicket even write so many books on one topic?!

And even though I’m only 2500 words into writing the sequel, I find myself having to search through book #1 to make sure things are consistent. Did I use kilometers or miles as measurement? Has Character A ever met Character B before? Have I already used this metaphor to describe this situation?

But ultimately: how do I stop this sequel (and inevitably other sequels) from becoming stale? I guess I’m just worried the story won’t be exciting. For me, a new idea is everything. I fall in love, I become obsessed, I get on this high of a new manuscript. But with a book #2, that newness is gone. It’s like revisiting an old friend. What will we even talk about?!

Anyway, enough rambling. These are just some thoughts on my writing life for this hot afternoon, I guess.

Have you ever attempted a sequel or a prequel? What are your worries? Do you find writing the second (or third, or fourth) as exciting as writing the first book?

Wednesday Writerly Update #7

This week’s been a week of ups and downs. Not completely sure what’s to blame for my off mood, but I’ve recoiled a bit in terms of being so scatter-brained and tackling 50,000 things at once, and I’m trying to refocus (successfully?) on what inspires me to write: reading.

Anyways, progress on editing the YA horror novel has stalled. I haven’t edited any of it since last week, and I’m contemplating putting it on vacation indefinitely. The YA contemporary has been planned for what… two weeks now? Yeah, not much progress there either (read: none at all). In better news, the Middle Eastern fantasy novelette has seen an additional 1,000 words which is nice, but it’s nowhere near finished in a first draft form. I did however do another free write (I’m on a roll!), and I hammered out a 4,000 word short story. It’s a horror about teenagers but for adults, and I’m just teasing out plot points now. I’m thinking I’ll add another 2,000 words to fix pacing, develop characters, etc. before starting a comprehensive edit.

As for the NA speculative fiction novel, it is still in limbo. But we shall see, my friends.

Okay, so, goals. I’m not sure I want to make any for the coming week. Frankly, I’m not good at meeting goals. Yes, I like to goal set, but I’m thinking that by attaching expectations to what I’m writing is making me stressed out and a little weary (hence, my weird mood). So, let’s just say I want to write, and it would be nice if I could finish something for the time being.

Now for The Black Oracle news:

  • Reviews have been slowly trickling in which is awesome! If you’ve finished the book and wouldn’t mind leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads, that would be great!
  • In addition to the signing at Roxanne’s Reflections Card and Book Shop in Fergus, Ontario on July 4 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, I have another signing on August 8. That one is at Chapters Woodbridge in Vaughan, Ontario, and will be from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.
  • Chapters Woodbridge, you say? Well, yes, “The Black Oracle” is now available at that location. If you’re in the area, drop by and snap a picture of it.
Chapters Woodbridge

Derp faces all around!

Until next week!

Wednesday Writerly Update #5

Well, hello!

It’s that day of the week again, the day where I fill you in on my minimal writing progress so that you can feel better about your own word count. And spoiler alert: I didn’t do much writing, but that’s okay because I *thought* about doing some writing, and intention is the first step to progress, right?

Right.

Anyways, I did a free write last week (Thursday? Friday? I don’t know). It was a 500 word scene, presumably some sort of speculative fiction. It has a distinct Middle Eastern edge that I like because I have a fascination with Middle Eastern culture at the moment, and it involves the desert and traveling gypsys. I kind of like it, but I don’t know what to make of it, and I don’t know if I like it because it’s incorporating Middle Eastern culture or if I *actually* think there may be a story there.

In any case, now that my NA Inception-meets-The-City-Trilogy WIP is in that weird limbo between completed self-edits and pre-publication shenanigans, I want to start focusing on other projects. I have the first draft of a YA  Horror novel I wrote over the winter, and the next step is going to be editing that one. I feel like it’s going to take a good bit of rewriting though. My intention was to write a classic horror novel with seances and Ouija boards and the like, but now I need to make sure I don’t fall into the trap of writing stereotypical horror.

Also, I have that YA contemporary WIP that sits at 15,000 words and has been since autumn. It’s completely different from anything I’ve ever done (it’s not spec. fiction at all; rather, a drama). I did a chapter-by-chapter outline the other day (which I rarely do) to see if direction would motivate me continue writing, but to be honest, I don’t feel all that motivated.

And lastly, for news pertaining to The Black Oracle:

  • The review tour is winding down, but there are still two stops on June 14th, so if you want to review The Black Oracle, now is the time! You can still review after the tour, of course.
  • The Black Oracle will now be sold at Forster’s Book Garden in Bolton, Ontario (an independent bookstore). Copies should be available shortly. Are you a bookstore owner? Contact me, and we’ll arrange some copies for your store!
  • Some cool promotions are headed your way soon! I have a few ideas in the works for promos over the summer months, so stay tuned.

I hope everyone had a good (and successful) writing week. Until next time!

Filter Words, and Why it Seems You Should Kill Them All

See what I did there?

If you don’t yet know, filter words are words that writers use when they are trying to describe what a character is experiencing. For example, these sentences below could be in any piece of prose (but they aren’t cuz I wrote them):

  • Mary saw that Joe drove his car too quickly for a residential street.
  • It seemed to Mary that Joe drove recklessly, too terribly for someone who ought to know how to drive.
  • Mary heard the tires screech. Mary watched the car swerve.
  • Mary wondered if she should call the cops.
  • She realized she would have to.

So now that we know what they are, why have I decided to devote an entire blog post to them?

Let me tell you a story. First and foremost, I am a writer. It is my dream for my novels to reach readers and for me to spend all my days crafting stories and developing characters and all around having a darn good time. But none of this happens without work. A writer who doesn’t take the time to hone their craft will end up just writing for themselves (which we all say we do, but don’t lie: there’s a *little* part of us that *wants* someone else to read along).

And what has been the best thing for me to hone my craft? It’s been editing other writers’ work. I did it informally for years, and now I work in editing at a publishing house. That work is what helped me name these hideous creatures that I bolded in the examples above and determine why they are so irritating.

Back to the example of Mary and Joe who may or may not have drank a little too much or had too little sleep or may have mixed up his prescription pills by accident. You’ll be happy to know that Mary called the cops, and they caught Joe, and no one was hurt, but the real tragedy wasn’t that Joe’s car got impounded, and he has to take the bus to work. No: it’s the amount of filter words that I used to describe the situation to you.

“Why?” you ask. “What’s so bad about filter words?”

Well, if the example above didn’t already come across to you as annoying, I’d like to point out that filter words create prose that is “filtered” through the eyes of the main character. It’s like hearing something from a friend of a friend of a friend of yours. The story starts to sound passive to the reader, and it doesn’t give the immediateness that readers need to feel involved and invested in a story. Filter words almost make the prose blunted and boring and just… bleh!

Further, most of the time they are unnecessary. For example, if I write “Joe drove his car too quickly for a residential street“, does the reader lose any crucial information if we already know Mary is in her front yard trimming her rose bushes and plotting the death of the neighbor who kept her up until 4 a.m. the night before with his bombastic rap music? No. We can assume that Mary notices Joe’s unsafe driving just by virtue of knowing that she’s outside.

So, can you ever use filter words? Short answer: yes. Sometimes filter words can be essential to a scene or a sentence. Filter words only become a problem when they are part of every sentence. Maybe it’s because I edit professionally now, but I find that too many filter words make me cringe. And you’d be surprised how many get used in any given manuscript. You’d be surprised at how many I found in “The Black Oracle” prior to publication.

Do a ctrl +f in your WIP and look for these words NOW:

  • to see
  • to hear
  • to wonder
  • to realize
  • to watch
  • to look
  • to seem
  • to feel (or feel like)
  • can or to be able to
  • to decide
  • to sound (or sound like)
  • to notice
  • to experience

To finish: filter words should be to prose as garlic is to cooking. A delicate sprinkle is all that’s needed because too much will leave a sour taste in your reader’s mouth and have them wishing they’d bought something else off of Amazon.

How many filter words do you use in your work?

Wednesday Writerly Update #4

After the last two weeks of finishing my NA speculative fiction (“Inception” meets Darren Shan’s “The City Trilogy”) and all the craziness of last week’s “The Black Oracle” release and launch festivities, needless to say, no fiction writing got done.

But that’s okay. I need a little break (read: I need to catch up on freelance writing and editing). My goal is to get started on editing another WIP I wrote over the winter (paranormal/horror: think “Medium” meets old school, 90s horror flicks) and to work on a contemporary young adult novel I have 15000 words written for (I have no comparisons, but I think it’s going to be something completely different for me — and horribly depressing).

But to be honest, I don’t foresee me starting either one of those things in the next month or so. I want my focus to be “The Black Oracle” and any immediate releases for 2016.

However, I do have the post-manuscript-completion urge to do a free write. The most exciting part about being a writer for me is getting new ideas. I love them. There’s nothing like the rushing feeling of plot points and characters and themes bombarding you and forcing you to write them all down. The first 15 pages of any new manuscript is bliss for me, and I’m definitely craving that.

Maybe my goal for next week will be to do a free write? We’ll see.

In any case, the following is news pertaining to “The Black Oracle”:

  • “The Black Oracle” will be featured on the May Releases Review Tour by Curiosity Quills for the next two weeks starting tomorrow. How can you get involved? Well, I’m ecstatic you asked! If you’ve read/are reading “The Black Oracle”, please leave it a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Your review should be honest, so if criticism is part of it, don’t mask it. I won’t put curses on your house. Promise.
  • Over 225 people have entered the Goodreads Giveaway to receive a free e-book copy of “The Black Oracle”. You can still enter! The contest closes on Sunday, June 7.
  • Starting this month, I will be creating a newsletter. Those who are interested in receiving news about new releases, promotions, and happenings can sign up here for infrequent (no more than once every two weeks). Why wouldn’t you want to join? I don’t spam, I promise.

And to finish off, I have these photos from The Black Oracle Launch Event on Sunday which was awesome! I’m not sure how many actually came out, but the crowded tea shop definitely made my day. I am so humbled by everyone who showed their support, so thank you for dropping by!

The "Daniel" of T by Daniel!

The “Daniel” of T by Daniel!

Signing the first copy of The Black Oracle.

Signing the first copy of The Black Oracle.

Okay, this wasn't *at* the launch, but look at how nice The Black Oracle looks on my bookshelf!

Okay, this wasn’t *at* the launch, but look at how nice The Black Oracle looks on my bookshelf!

How to Write a Novel that Will ACTUALLY Be Worthy of Publishing

Ron-Swanson-Every-Word-I-Know

So, you say you have a dream, Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. of prospective fiction (or nonfiction) writer. Well, so do I, and so do millions of others around the world. That is to write a book, but not just any damn book: a book that will be good enough to publish.

Seems like a pretty simple goal, right? In today’s day and age, there are a billion ways to see your work published: paperback, hardcover, ebook, literary magazine, traditional publishing, self-publishing, hybrid publishing, serialization, writing your novel on your arm and reciting it in the subway (okay, maybe not that one…)

Since publishing a book is easier and more accessible than ever before, it’s important to know how to write a novel that’s worthy of being published.

Read Widely

“This is a given,” you say. This is what got you into wanting to write the most epic, mind-shattering, life-changing fiction in the world in the first place. It’s amazing though how quickly reading gets shut out of life after a 9-to-5 job, commuting, cooking, cleaning, sleeping, and meeting word counts consumes all your time.

Trust me, I’m guilty of putting reading at the bottom of my priority list. I find it hard to find time to read, but it really is necessary for a successful writing career. Reading allows writers to become fluent in their craft. It allows us to see what works for other authors, and what could work for us. It allows us to stay on top of what’s happening in the publishing industry and to analyze those happenings and apply them to our own career.

And you MUST read widely. Don’t only read the genre you write. It’s tempting to say, “Oh, well, I only write fantasy, so I’ll read myself silly with George R. R. Martin and J. R. R. Tolkien and Terry Pratchett”. Read everything. Read contemporary and young adult and romance and how-to manuals about square dancing and cat-sitting.

The classics are also a must — and believe me when I say that you won’t detest them as much as you did when you were forced to enjoy them in high school.

Learn How to Write & Edit Like Mad

Writing without knowing anything about the craft is like scuba diving without an air tank. It’s like running a marathon without proper shoes. It’s like driving a car with your eyes closed (which I do not recommend, to be clear).

You need to invest something into your writing, and I don’t mean that you have to toil and toil over plot points and character development and 100,000 cat videos on YouTube (though, that’s all included). You’re going to need to get control of your grammar and the conventions of your genre. You should invest in a style guide and maybe even read a few how-to‘s and don’t-do‘s. There are millions of resources online and at your local bookstore, and if your interested in improving your craft, I’ve already written a post with tips.

Even when you’ve mastered all those semi-colons and romance novel tropes and Oxford commas, you must still edit. All manuscripts go through a revision process, sometimes upwards of ten times, and if self-publishing is the right route for you, it is ESSENTIAL that you hire a professional editor to prepare your work for publication. There’s nothing more terrible than a novel that has grammar, spelling, and plotting issues (except maybe driving with your eyes closed).

Don’t Follow Trends

Are vampires and zombies cool anymore? No, it’s dystopian fiction and Fifty Shades of Too-Embarrassed-to-Be-Caught-Reading? Well, then.

Following trends doesn’t work. By the time you write something that follows a trend, polish it, and publish it, chances are that trend will be on the way out or already gone. Besides, it’s even worse when a writer writes something in order to try to capitalize on the bee’s-knees-du-jour, and it’s so blatantly obvious that they did that they write garbage. These novels lack originality and personality.

So, screw the trends. Write something that feels right for you, and maybe you’ll grandfather (or grandmother) your own trend. Talk about mind-shattering!

Know When It’s Crap

Ah, my USB. It’s a place where all the magic happens — and also the place where manuscripts go to DIE! Truth be told, not all of you work is meant to be published. Sometimes we write something full of cliches and plot holes and enough literary conventions to make Shakespeare hiss in territorial protection.

And that’s okay! You’re allowed to write crappy every once in a while. I did it. I have a manuscript that’s been edited multiple times but is now enjoying retirement in my “Nice Try” folder. I even have a nice disclaimer on the front page that says “In the event of my death, DO NOT publish posthumously”. It’s that crappy.

How do you know when it’s time to let go?

  • You’ve Lost Interest. That initial spark is gone, and writing the piece feels like drinking three-week-old urine with ground up ceramic. Yeah, that feeling.
  • You’ve Written Yourself into a Hole. This is the hardest time to let go. This happens when your plot is so mangled that it’s unrecognizable. It’s unfocused and messy, inconsistent and terrible. Sure, you could edit, but is it worth it? Maybe let it be for a while and come back later.
  • You’re Not Ready. We all need the opportunity to fail. Sometimes what you write is just the trial edition. You can’t run a marathon without training. You need some practice runs, so to speak. It’s important to know when you’re writing a practice run, especially if you’re just starting out and writing your first novel.

How do you know when something you’ve written is worthy of publication? Do we ever really know?

5 Tips to Writing a Successful First Draft (Even if it Sucks)

To date, I’ve completed 4.5 first drafts. I say 4.5 because I have 4 manuscripts of novels that are at various points of editing and publishing, but I also have a fifth manuscript, a contemporary YA that’s on vacation. I say vacation because it’s nicer than saying on hiatus or abandoned or acknowledging that I *may* not be ready to complete it yet.

In any case, writing a first draft is a complicated and emotional process. It’s complicated because you don’t know what you’ll end up with once you start. It’s emotional because of how invested you become: in the story, in the characters, in the frustration that the “art” you’re creating may be nothing more than a carefully-crafted piece of crap.

But worry not: all great literature had to start off as crud. In fact, all those bestsellers you admire yet secretly envy on your bookshelf were probably rejected multiple times.

So check out these 5 tips for completing your heap of crap!

Plan — Or Don’t!

Some writers are planners. Some writers are not. I am a hybrid of the two: I start off by letting things just happen, and then I start to outline, flesh out characters, and plan scenes. I’m a like a liger, if you will. Magic and all.

liger-2

It’s up to each writer to determine what works best for them. Planning can help focus a story, but it can also sap it dry of all its intrigue and leave the writer uninspired to get it finished. I find that when I plan too intensely or too early, this happens to me. Remember that vacation my .5 was on? Yeah… I planned too early. It’s like all the magic is gone, and writing it feels like homework. When that happens, it’s best I back away for some time.

But some writers are the opposite. If they have no plan, they have nothing to hold them to their goal of writing a novel. There are a number of methods out there including chapter-by-chapter breakdowns, pre-completion synopsis writing, and the Snowflake MethodChuck Wendig has a great list of methods to plan your novel.

Don’t Edit

Seriously. DON’T. Put down your red pen. Editing is the kryptonite of writing a first draft. I never do it unless I want to end up in the oblivion of perfection-seeking and aimless toiling. The number one way to self-sabotage your work is by primping and probing too soon. It’s like taking a baby out of their crib, plopping them in the driver seat of a car, and expecting them to win the Indy 500. It will be disastrous simply because they’re not ready.

The same is true for your novel. Your first draft is the infancy of your novel, and should you helicopter-parent too soon, you will experience an adolescence of bad attitude, screaming matches, and underage drinking. You need to give your first draft some space to breathe. Allow yourself to be creative and get your ideas down before you start picking and pulling it apart.

Just Keep Swimming

When it comes to writing a first draft, perseverance is key. It’s easy to entertain an idea, to write the first ten pages of a piece, to daydream about characters and betrayals and plot twists. Heck, it’s fun even! But when the novelty wears off, the only thing that will see you through the middle-manuscript blahs will be your determination to get that sucker finished.

For me, weekly writing goals work. Do I always stick to them? Haha… no. This last week alone I had a writing goal of 2500, and I only made 1600. But, you see, even though I didn’t make my writing goal, I still wrote. I still persevered. I am still determined to complete my manuscript. In fact, my writing goals are more like guidelines. 1600 words is better than none at all, and if I make even half my goal of 2500 words this week, that is 3000 words closer to a completed first draft.

Allow Yourself to Suck

You suck. I suck. Everyone sucks.

Seriously, the first draft sucks. There’s no getting around it. There’s no way to sacrifice a lamb to the demi-gods of the Sahara and write a perfect first draft (but if there is, hook a brother up!). So come to terms with it. Digest it, and make it part of your writing routine. Allow yourself to suck, and writing your first draft will go smoother, I promise.

In fact, once you liberate yourself, you may find that you don’t suck as much as you feared after all.

Expect to Rewrite

If you haven’t realized this by now, I’m sorry to break this to you: your first draft is NEVER the one you show the world. Wallow in self-pity now, aspiring writer, because if you want this, you’re in for the long haul. Even if you manage to nab an agent or an editor off of your first draft alone, they will insist you edit. In fact, my first novel has gone through 12 edits, and it hasn’t even been released yet.

But this isn’t a terrible thing. Your first draft is crap, remember? The only way to make it into gold is by editing. Essentially, the first draft is only half of the task of writing. Editing is where you get to show the reader your storytelling prowess and wow them with your spit-shined, immaculately-constructed prose.

How do you get through a first draft?

5 Ways to Stretch Your Word Count

writing

This time last year, I thought my newest New Adult speculative fiction work-in-progress about the collective subconscious and evil corporations was finished and ready for the world. Since then, I have gotten sidetracked by the release of my first novel entitled The Black Oracle and by the launching of my full-time writing career. During all this time, I have been on a steep learning curve, growing exponentially in the world of writing, publishing, and editing. It wasn’t until I *actually* went to prepare my New Adult speculative fiction novel for publication that I realized I had a problem: the word count of 50,000 words was too short.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. In fact, I’ve already heard it from my critique partner. “When your novel is done, it’s done“. That is to say that once a piece is finished from beginning to end, and it has been edited to the point of being ready for publication, it’s silly to go back. It is what it is, so to speak, even if it is a little short.

But that didn’t stop me from doing research. In fact, Literary Rejections has a fantastic post about standard word counts for all genres, and they peg the average for New Adult at between 60,000 and 80,000 words. “Be the rule, not the exception,” they advise.

And whether or not writers want to admit it, word counts count, and editors and agents judge you on them every. single. day.

So that’s when I decided to pump 10,000 to 15,000 new words into my New Adult speculative fiction novel. Currently, I’m trudging through it, daily word count goals slowly driving me insane. It isn’t easy to add more words to a novel that I thought was finished. I needed a plan. Luckily, I was able to find 5 tricks that help to stretch word counts without adding mindless filler and unproductive storytelling.

Explore Backstory

For me, this is going to be one of the best ways to gain a few thousand words. Writers spend a lot of time fleshing out a character’s past experiences and thinking about how those experiences lead them to their actions within the story. The problem: much of this backstory stays with the author. These character sketches don’t always make it to the finished product.

But why not? Why not make those experiences available to the reader?

Write a good flashback. Have a character tell a story about a past event. Have your main character reflect back on a past event. There are many ways to weave backstory into your plot without writing entirely new scenes and without info-dumping, and doing so is a great way to increase your word count.

Slow Down the Pacing

I must admit, I am a fast-paced sort of writer. I don’t like writing filler scenes, and I don’t like taking my time. I want the action to happen, and I want all my storytelling to be as productive as it can possibly be.

Downside: I write shorter manuscripts. It’s not a crime since some of the bestselling books of all time have been short, but it definitely makes me a touch insecure when I read about word count expectations. So when writing, I try to keep mind to slow my pacing. One of the techniques I use is to plan out my scenes before I write them. Without a plan, I could probably write an entire novel in ten pages (a crappy novel, no doubt).

Secondly, I aim to slow my pacing through my word choices and sentence structures. We live in a society where a lot of description in prose is frowned upon, and though I don’t go all Tolkein-esque and spend pages upon pages detailing trees and rocks, I use my sentences to better flesh out ideas and settings. A longer word count is just a happy by-product of that process.

Develop Your Characters

One-dimensional characters are often the death of a potentially great novel. No one likes to read a character that has no goals, no genuine emotion, no life. The best ways to develop your characters are to give us access to their thoughts and dreams, give them a backstory (see above), and give them reasons for being in your story.

Again, by-product: all of this character development takes a time, thus stretching your word count.

Write a Subplot

This is my favorite word count stretching technique. I love subplots. LOVE. I would write an entire novel of subplots if I could. There’s so much freedom in taking a character and developing their actions into a quasi-separate story. And then when the subplot mixes and mingles with the main plot? Gold. GOLD, I TELL YOU.

Check out this cool post on the different types of subplot and how they can seriously enrich and advance your story.

Make Things Complicated

Last but not least, stay away from easy. This technique sounds like a given, but believe it or not, a lot of authors fail to make their stories complicated and thus interesting. Some stick to the A-event + B-event = Conclusion model, and this is terribly boring.

Give your reader something more. Add additional events to your plot-development equation, ones that make the main character work for their reward. If the story is straightforward and predictable, the reader will also find it straightforward and predictable. Add some uncertainty. Add some misunderstanding. Add some betrayal.

All of this will help to enrich your story and yes, stretch your word count.

Got any techniques for increasing your word count? Do you even bother to try to meet industry or self-imposed word count standards?