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Thread: Four Simple Ways to Expand the Novel's Wordcount

  1. #1
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    Four Simple Ways to Expand the Novel's Wordcount

    This question seems to come up at least once a week in this forum, and I just wrote yet another reply, and then decided to post it here for the next person asking this. Some people find it hard to reach even 50 000 words, not to mention a 100 000. Here are some basic tools of text expansion if you really think you need them.

    Let me repeat that: if you really think you need them. Once more: use these tools only if you really think you need them. No one is saying you should use all four in every situation. These are tools for when your chapter reads a bit thin, and you wonder how to beef it up a bit without having to invent a subplot or introducing some random character growth catharsis.

    1) Descriptions
    The MC enters a room--describe its size, color, atmosphere, furniture, temperature, etc, etc.

    Dean Koontz example of description carpet-bombing through simple enumeration (Phantoms):

    The double sink was filled with jewelry. Mostly rings and watches. There were both men’s and women’s watches: Timex, Seiko, Bulova, even a Rolex; some of them were attached to flexible bands; some with no bands at all; none of them was attached to a leather or plastic band. Bryce saw scores of wedding and engagement rings; the diamonds glittered brilliantly. Birthstone rings, too: garnet, amethyst, bloodstone, topaz, tourmaline; rings with ruby and emerald chips. High high-priced pieces.
    Bryce dug his hands into one of the piles of valuables the way a pirate, in the movies, always drenched his hands in the contents of a treasure chest. He stirred up the shining baubles and saw other kinds of jewelry: earrings, charm bracelets, loose pearls from a broken necklace or two, gold chains, a lovely cameo pendant…
    (Instead of simply "The sink was overflowing with jewlery")

    Raymond Chandler
    (Little Sister) example of more elegant detail presentation:

    You could know Bay City a long time without knowing Idaho Street. And you could know a lot of Idaho Street without knowing Number 449. The block in front of it had a broken paving that had almost gone back to dirt. The warped fence of a lumberyard bordered the cracked sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. Halfway up the block the rusted rails of a spur track turned in to a pair of high, chained wooden gates that seem not to have been opened for twenty years. Little boys with chalk had been writing and drawing pictures on the gates and all along the fence.
    Number 449 had a shallow, paintless front porch on which five wood and cane rockers loafed dissolutely, held together with wire and the moisture of the beach air.
    The green shades over the lower windows of the house were two thirds down and full of cracks. Beside the front door there was a large printed sign “No Vacancies.” That had been there a long time too. It had got faded and fly-specked. The door opened on a long hall from which stairs went up a third of the way back. To the right there was a narrow shelf with a chained, indelible pencil hanging beside it.
    There was a push button and a yellow and black sign above which read “Manager,” and was held up by three thumbtacks no two of which matched. There was a pay phone on the opposite wall. I pushed the bell.
    (Instead of simply "I reached the place--it was pretty shabby--and rang the bell")

    2) Back stories
    Let's say there's a TV set by the north wall of the room you're describing. Need to squeeze in a few more paragraphs? Add the back story of the appliance. It was impressive ten years ago but even then he couldn't have afforded it--his brother gifted it for his marriage. The marriage was gone, the TV was still here, etc, etc.

    Example of pet's genital status back story from King's Pet Sematary:

    Louis’s mind turned to Ellie as he had last seen her tonight, fast asleep with Church purring rustily on the foot of the mattress.
    “My daughter’s got a cat,” he said. “Winston Churchill. We call him Church for short.”
    “Do they climb when he walks?”
    “I beg your pardon?” Louis had no idea what he was talking about.
    “He still got his balls or has he been fixed?”
    “No,” Louis said. “No, he hasn’t been fixed.”
    In fact there had been some trouble over that back in Chicago. Rachel had wanted to get Church spayed, had even made the appointment with the vet. Louis canceled it. Even now he wasn’t really sure why. it wasn’t anything as simple or as stupid as equating his masculinity with that of his daughter’s tom, nor even his resentment at the idea that Church would have to be castrated so the fat housewife next door wouldn’t need to be troubled with twisting down the lids of her plastic garbage cans—those things had been part of it, but most of it had been a vague but strong feeling that it Would destroy something in Church that he himself valued—that it would put out the go-to-hell look in the cat’s green eyes. Finally he had pointed out to Rachel that they were moving to the country, and it shouldn’t be a problem. Now here was Judson Crandall, pointing out that part of country living in Ludlow consisted of dealing with Route 15, and asked him if the cat was fixed. Try a little irony, Dr. Creed—it’s good for your blood.
    3) Breaking up simple actions into chains of sub-actions
    The MC didn't just pick up the phone: he walked over to the desk, swiped away a few pieces of paper to clear space, pulled over the plastic stationary phone, leaned his head to one side as he wedged the receiver between the side of his chin and his shoulder, etc, etc.

    Example of borderline absurd zooming in into mundane activity from Hammett's The Maltese Falcon:

    Spade's thick fingers made a cigarette with deliberate care, sifting a measured quantity of tan flakes down into curved paper, spreading the flakes so that they lay equal at the ends with a slight depression in the middle, thumbs rolling the paper's inner edge down and up under the outer edge as forefingers pressed it over, thumbs and fingers sliding to the paper cylinder's ends to hold it even while tongue licked the flap, left forefinger and thumb pinching their end while right forefinger and thumb smoothed the damp seam, right forefinger and thumb twisting their end and lifting the other to Spade's mouth. He picked up the pigskin and nickel lighter that had fallen to the floor, manipulated it, and with the cigarette burning in a corner of his mouth stood up.
    (Instead of simply "He lit a cigarette")



    4) Internal dialogues and memories and sensory input of POV character
    So the MC drives a car, and to beef up the scene you've described the movements of driving, the car itself, his clothes and mood, the landscape outside, the weather and state of the road, and how and when he got the car. But you still need a few more paragraphs and feel that enumerating every blade of grass by the road will bore everyone to death. In this situation, expansion of wordcount can be achieved by adding to the mix of his thoughts and feelings about things, memories of events and conversations, angry opinions, the glare of the sun in his eyes, the smell of upholstery, etc, etc.

    Example of a quiet moment being filled up by the MC's internal world--On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming:

    It was one of those beautiful, naive seaside panoramas for which the Brittany and Picardy beaches have provided the setting - and inspired their recorders, Boudin, Tissot, Monet - ever since the birth of plages and bains de mer more than a hundred years ago.
    To James Bond, sitting in one of the concrete shelters with his face to the setting sun, there was something poignant, ephemeral about it all. It reminded him almost too vividly of childhood - of the velvet feel of the hot powder sand, and the painful grit of wet sand between young toes when the time came for him to put his shoes and socks on, of the precious little pile of sea-shells and interesting wrack on the sill of his bedroom window ('No, we'll have to leave that behind, darling. It'll dirty up your trunk!'), of the small crabs scuttling away from the nervous fingers groping beneath the seaweed in the rock-pools, of the swimming and swimming and swimming through the dancing waves - always in those days, it seemed, lit with sunshine - and then the infuriating, inevitable 'time to come out'. It was all there, his own childhood, spread out before him to have another look at. What a long time ago they were, those spade-and-bucket days! How far he had come since the freckles and the Cadbury milk-chocolate Flakes and the fizzy lemonade! Impatiently Bond lit a cigarette, pulled his shoulders out of their slouch and slammed the mawkish memories back into their long-closed file. Today he was a grown-up, a man with years of dirty, dangerous memories - a spy. He was not sitting in this concrete hideout to sentimentalize.about a pack of scrubby, smelly children on a beach scattered with bottle-tops and lolly-sticks and fringed by a sea thick with sun-oil and putrid with the main drains of Royale. He was here, he had chosen to be here, to spy.
    Flip open King's The Stand or IT to see how relentless application of these principles make any scene swell into a protracted multi-thousand word section. Thus, if there is enough story for 10 000 words, there is enough story for 100 000 words--entirely up to you to what extent you wish to inflate each scene. It's also entirely your responsibility to maintain interest of the reader in every chapter.
    Last edited by dondomat; 06-17-2014 at 07:42 AM.

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    Independent fluffy puppy. Osulagh's Avatar
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    While I can see a good application of these ideas to expand some areas word-count, I'd like to counter-suggest not expanding anything and everything as concretely as you put it. If there's a define and good reason to detail a description, or the character's actions, or something/someone's backstory and reveal internal thoughts and senses, then do so. But to just blindly apply these suggestions to everything, as if to double the word-count of a novel would just cause me (and other readers I think) to start skipping or skimming to get to the point of it all. I've read and grown bored of enough books where authors have filled pages with these ideas to know where and how to start skimming. I want to intently read a book, hanging on each word.

    I believe that these suggestions can be good to add a couple thousand words to a story--where needed--but not to substantially add to a story.

    For those interested in bringing their stories to "marketable" word-counts, I suggest you look into expanding the story, and not exactly the writing at first.

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    The Hobbit-Vulcan hybrid Lillith1991's Avatar
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    I agree with adding strategically to the scenes and spots that need to be expanded. If you add words anywhere and everywhere it drags the story down, but words added where it benefits the story add more than just words. They add emotion, and character. As with all writing advice these methods should used in moderation.

    Where a story really has the ability to reach a desired word count is in subplots. A short story, novellete, and novella are about one plot, the main one. Rescuing the princess or something. The differences between a the three forms of shorter work is the depth of the plot, how much detail about the main plot you can give. Though, a novella can involve subplots like a novel would.

    Novels have at least one subplot, if not more in addition to the main plot. It is the additional plots besides rescuing the princess and slaying the dragon that add depth and words to a novel. The Knight finding out he needs such and such artifact to defeat the dragon, so he/she goes to retrieve the artifact. He/she falling in love with someone they meet along the way. Subplots feed into the main plot, they add branches where none existed, words where none existed.

    Knight rescues princess from dragon is a short story. Knight goes to rescue princess, along the way he finds out he needs the magic sword of such and such to defeat the dragon. While this mini quest is happening the knight falls in love with a beautiful soldier, barmaid, stable hand etc. is a novel. That's three imediate plots for the story's tapestry.
    Last edited by Lillith1991; 06-03-2014 at 12:19 PM.
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    I'd have to agree with Osulagh. I'd hypothesise (and I'm very willing to be proved wrong) that most writers whose stories are too short aren't lacking in description; they're lacking in actual story. And, if I'm honest, a 50,000 word story that someone had bumped up to 90,000 words with that much description would possibly be the most boring thing I'd ever read, and I'd either start skimming or putting the book down.

    The only way I can see this working, is if you're writing literary fiction and your prose is absolutely spectacular. Otherwise I'd say work on your story: develop your characters, add some subplots, increase the complexity of the tale, and then see where you are.
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    Yes, that's exactly what I noticed: when someone asks "how do I raise my wordcount"--no one tells them how to raise their word count--instead they get vague motivational speeches and advice to rewrite everything, with the obligatory mention of Hemingway.
    This is why I wrote a "this is how you raise the word count" post.
    Last edited by dondomat; 06-03-2014 at 12:35 PM.

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    practical experience, FTW J.S.Fairey's Avatar
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    when someone asks "how do I raise my wordcount"--no one tells them how to raise their word count
    I'm confused by this? Saying "add sub plots and develop your characters" IS telling them how to raise their word count... as for everything in writing, there's no quick fix, and there's no advice that works for every story. The person who's asking has to look into their own work and realise what needs to be added, not just throw in words for the sake of it.
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    ...Like people asking "how do I quickly bulk up my biceps" and everyone replying that they should work not only on their biceps, but on all other muscle groups as well, and not forget to drink lots of water; and should even rather raise their self-esteem in other, more meaningful ways, and maybe learn some self-defense techniques, instead of just inflating their biceps, and anyway, people with huge muscles look grotesque.

    But sometimes the person who asks how to quickly enlarge their biceps, wants to hear how to quickly enlarge their biceps. My post is the equivalent of saying "this is how, buddy".
    Last edited by dondomat; 06-03-2014 at 01:34 PM.

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    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    There is a danger in thinking my story is automatically enhanced by puffing up detail and descriptions and back story.
    Last edited by Bufty; 06-03-2014 at 02:09 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.S.Fairey View Post
    I'd hypothesise (and I'm very willing to be proved wrong) that most writers whose stories are too short aren't lacking in description; they're lacking in actual story.
    I don't know if you can generalize that - I think it really depends on the writer. I tend to come up with pretty intricate plots but write through them too quickly and skip the details that would bring it to life.

    I think points one and four are useful for going back through and seeing where you can enhance the sensory experience of the reader. Point 2... meh. Backstory should only be used where it's relevant to the story. And point 3 I just have to disagree with. Use as few stage directions as possible.

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    Independent fluffy puppy. Osulagh's Avatar
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    dondomat, the main problem I see with your suggestions is that you're declaring that either everything must be expanded, or something should constantly be happening to add word count.

    From your post:
    Quote Originally Posted by dondomat View Post
    1) Descriptions of everything

    2) Back story for everything

    3) Break up simple actions Insinuation 'all' actions into chains of sub-actions

    4) Constant internal dialogues and memories and sensory input of POV character
    Like I said, while some of these things can be good--in moderation--stating something should happen all the time, or every time, or as constantly as possible can mislead a newbie writer. Also, when a writer changes their writing to accomodate such suggestions might alter their own natural/developing voice.


    There's no sure-fire way to expand word-count; every story is different, every situation is different. Stating something should happen indefinitely to solve such a huge and general problem can cause a lot of problems, IMO.

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    The T is for Trying to Stop Lurking M.T.Logue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dondomat View Post
    But sometimes the person who asks how to quickly enlarge their biceps, wants to hear how to quickly enlarge their biceps. My post is the equivalent of saying "this is how, buddy".
    Well, part of being a writer is learning that there is no simple answer, that you don't get to hear just what you want to hear, especially if the thing you want to hear--such as what you've suggested--could be more damaging than helpful.

    Beefing up subplots and side characters can make a story more gripping; padding the prose might just drag it on. Sure, there are times where expanding on description or drawing out action would be useful or improve the piece (or, at the very least, not make it any worse) but the attitude of "everything" needing this treatment just seems a little dangerous to me, and might be pushing some writers who don't know better down the wrong path.

    It's frustrating not to get a detailed answer that points you in the right direction, sure, and you obviously mean well. But frankly, reducing our valid advice to "vague motivational speeches and advice to rewrite everything, with the obligatory mention of Hemingway" just seems rude, to me, and dismissive of what people are actually saying.
    Last edited by M.T.Logue; 06-03-2014 at 02:41 PM.

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    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    There's also - 5) waffle and quote from other works.
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    Super Procrastinator Kallithrix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Osulagh View Post
    For those interested in bringing their stories to "marketable" word-counts, I suggest you look into expanding the story, and not exactly the writing at first.
    This.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.S.Fairey View Post
    The only way I can see this working, is if you're writing literary fiction and your prose is absolutely spectacular. Otherwise I'd say work on your story: develop your characters, add some subplots, increase the complexity of the tale, and then see where you are.
    And this.

    To be honest, Dondomat, when I saw you post these 4 points in the other thread, I thought you were joking or being ironic. Saying these are ways you CAN increase wordcount is fine. Saying this is how you SHOULD increase wordcount, by doing these things in EVERY instance, is very misleading and I think bad advice for someone who might take it at face value.
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  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW J.S.Fairey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaitlin Brianna View Post
    I don't know if you can generalize that - I think it really depends on the writer.
    No, you're right, that's fair. What's the old saying? "When you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME."

    I will stand by this though, which is my main reason for disagreeing with this post: I'd much rather read a long story told in not enough words, than a short story told in way too many.

    Say what you will about J.K Rowling (I think she's a genius), but the first few books are an excellent example of this. Philosopher's Stone is a story that really isn't that much shorter than many of the other books; she just whizzes through it at such a breathtaking pace. I'd really recommend writers who struggle with slow pace to read as much MG and YA as possible, as both genres are often brilliant at telling complex stories in simple ways.

    But I'm getting off topic. Going back to Dondomat's muscle building analogy, I see where you're coming from; but sometimes people are asking the wrong question. Yeah, giving them the answer they want might be easy and make them happy, but is building up your biceps WITHOUT drinking a load of water healthy? Not at all. (At least, I think not... Dammit, I'm a writer not a fitness instructor ) The same concept goes for a story. You can make it longer all you like, but there's a good chance you're not making it better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kallithrix View Post
    To be honest, Dondomat, when I saw you post these 4 points in the other thread, I thought you were joking or being ironic. Saying these are ways you CAN increase wordcount is fine. Saying this is how you SHOULD increase wordcount, by doing these things in EVERY instance, is very misleading and I think bad advice for someone who might take it at face value.
    Good points everyone, I'll pop over to the original post and spell out that these are CAN things, not SHOULD things.

    However, I stand by this thread as such. There is a prevalent opinion in writer circles that when someone asks a specific question, he/she should be told everything but the answer to the specific question (surely we know better what the person is really asking, or should really be asking), and this is a niche I've undertaken to fill here--actual direct answer to actual specific question.

    Quote Originally Posted by M.T.Logue View Post
    But frankly, reducing our valid advice to "vague motivational speeches and advice to rewrite everything, with the obligatory mention of Hemingway" just seems rude, to me, and dismissive of what people are actually saying.
    My bad. Was trying to summarize the situation. Hemingway style.
    Too Fitzgeraldish, I know.
    Last edited by dondomat; 06-03-2014 at 03:29 PM.

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    Super Procrastinator Kallithrix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.S.Fairey View Post
    But I'm getting off topic. Going back to Dondomat's muscle building analogy, I see where you're coming from; but sometimes people are asking the wrong question. Yeah, giving them the answer they want might be easy and make them happy, but is building up your biceps WITHOUT drinking a load of water healthy? Not at all. (At least, I think not... Dammit, I'm a writer not a fitness instructor ) The same concept goes for a story. You can make it longer all you like, but there's a good chance you're not making it better.
    I agree with this, sorry dondomat. As much as giving a straight answer to a simple question will please the asker, it's not always the RIGHT way to answer. Sometimes the question is just not quite hitting the nail on the head. Sometimes the asker needs a bit more information to understand what they really need to know in order to answer the question for themselves. That's not arrogance, it's giving the benefit of experience, from people who've asked - and received answers to - all those questions before.
    Last edited by Kallithrix; 06-03-2014 at 03:33 PM.
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  17. #17
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    A prevalent opinion? Says who?

    I'm sure you mean well, but editing an original post to make sure it says what we mean before hitting 'submit' is always a good idea. Radically amending an OP after a string of responses gives latecomers a completely unbalanced thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by dondomat View Post
    Good points everyone, I'll pop over to the original post and spell out that these are CAN things, not SHOULD things.

    However, I stand by this thread as such. There is a prevalent opinion in writer circles that when someone asks a specific question, he/she should be told everything but the answer to the specific question (surely we know better what the person is really asking, or should really be asking), and this is a niche I've undertaken to fill here--actual direct answer to actual specific question.
    Last edited by Bufty; 06-03-2014 at 03:37 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by M.T.Logue View Post
    Well, part of being a writer is learning that there is no simple answer, that you don't get to hear just what you want to hear, especially if the thing you want to hear--such as what you've suggested--could be more damaging than helpful.

    Beefing up subplots and side characters can make a story more gripping; padding the prose might just drag it on. Sure, there are times where expanding on description or drawing out action would be useful or improve the piece (or, at the very least, not make it any worse) but the attitude of "everything" needing this treatment just seems a little dangerous to me, and might be pushing some writers who don't know better down the wrong path.

    It's frustrating not to get a detailed answer that points you in the right direction, sure, and you obviously mean well. But frankly, reducing our valid advice to "vague motivational speeches and advice to rewrite everything, with the obligatory mention of Hemingway" just seems rude, to me, and dismissive of what people are actually saying.
    Yep, this. Actually, I would go so far as to say that increasing descriptions with the aim of increasing word count is pretty bad advice.

    I write sparse. I know full well that I lack description. After I write my first draft, I have to go back and add in more descriptions. But I never do so with the aim of increasing my word count significantly. When my agent tells me to add in more description, she doesn't say, "Add more descriptions because you are lacking in word count." She says, "Add more descriptions here and here and here." She might say, "The novel is quite short. Can you add a subplot somewhere, or maybe develop this character more?"

    So when someone says they need to add significantly to their word count, I might think, "Oh, add subplots, or add to the world-building"...but I never think, "Add descriptions." Like someone else pointed out, adding 30K worth of descriptions to a 50K book is a great way to make it boring.
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    Bufty,
    I used the edit function to 'radically alter' the original post, because the edit function is there to alter posts when they need altering and also I am a writer who edits everything he writes multiple times. I said in writing I would do the altering--and how--thank you for saving the would and how post by the way, I was just about to pretend I had never written it but you went and made an honest man out of me--"prevalent opinion" means "prevalent behavior as witnessed by me, and my assuming that said behavior is not random reaction to environment, but based on prior opinions". I should have, in hindsight, written "prevalent behavior as interpreted by me", but now anyone who makes it this far down the thread will see that this is what I meant. Or rather, "this is what it seems to me at this point in time that I meant when I wrote".

    As I say in the beginning of the thread--originally this post was an answer to a question--for the archaeologists who want to see the original draft before its radical altering--here.

    And, to reiterate, judging by the initial reactions to this thread--the "prevalent behavior as perceived by me" is indeed that when someone asks how to raise their wordcount, showing them four ways to raise their wordcounts is bad advice, instead, one should tell them what they really need to know. Hence, me filling this niche of not doing that, but the other thing. The thing where one actually gives a straight answer to a straight question. As long as everyone else is doing the "what you really need to know and do" thing, my single thread of straight answers shouldn't really bring down civilization as we know it...
    Last edited by dondomat; 06-03-2014 at 04:36 PM.

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    I made myself coffee and ice-cream and reread the thread and I think I'm becoming quite rude. Taking a time out at least for an hour.

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    Seashell Seller Layla Nahar's Avatar
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    I agree and disagree with dondomat. There are for sure some people who could use this to add to their word count, and this is for sure a concrete and step by step explanation. I also agree that often people give vague answers to 'how do I' questions. I think there are two reasons for that. One is that a question as posed fails to properly explain the problem. The other is that the problem may be so different from the experience of others that it is hard for them to understand, and even if they did, it would be hard for them to give an answer that would be useful to the person asking the question.

    That being said, yeah, I think that the methods given will work for limited number of writers and if misapplied will make problematic writing worse.
    Last edited by Layla Nahar; 06-03-2014 at 04:31 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Osulagh View Post
    While I can see a good application of these ideas to expand some areas word-count, I'd like to counter-suggest not expanding anything and everything as concretely as you put it. If there's a define and good reason to detail a description, or the character's actions, or something/someone's backstory and reveal internal thoughts and senses, then do so. But to just blindly apply these suggestions to everything, as if to double the word-count of a novel would just cause me (and other readers I think) to start skipping or skimming to get to the point of it all. I've read and grown bored of enough books where authors have filled pages with these ideas to know where and how to start skimming. I want to intently read a book, hanging on each word.

    I believe that these suggestions can be good to add a couple thousand words to a story--where needed--but not to substantially add to a story.

    For those interested in bringing their stories to "marketable" word-counts, I suggest you look into expanding the story, and not exactly the writing at first.
    I fully agree with this. I tend to get bored and skim over long descriptions of stuff that seems irrelevant to a story and sometimes I'll even put the book away if there's too much of it.

    My main problem is that I tend to be too wordy and too descriptive. When I try not to be, I go completely in the opposite direction and don't give enough to give the reader a feel for things. I can't seem to find the right balance between them without going over the story a few hundred times.
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  23. #23
    Caped Codder jaksen's Avatar
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    I think you shouldn't have to add anything. The idea of 'adding for padding' makes me sort of cringe.

    But enhanced description, or a lengthy action scene, or a backstory here and there can work when it's part of the overall story you're trying to tell. The extra description adds texture, depth, and emotion to your work and contributes to the mood of the piece. (Or paragraph or chapter or section of the book.) If you've got a soon-to-be murder victim sitting in the sand on the shore, at night, contemplating the waves, the approaching storm, or the quiet of the marsh - that adds depth and emotion. If she's studying her sandals or her new manicure, that's unnecessary, imo.

    (Unless the point is to describe how shallow she is. )

    Anyhow, I write so long that I never need to go back and add anything. I have the opposite problem: where to condense, shorten, edit out.
    Last edited by jaksen; 06-03-2014 at 07:20 PM.
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  24. #24
    recovering pantser aus10phile's Avatar
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    Padding isn't good if you already have enough "padding." But some stories may be too sparse on description and other things dodomat mentioned. I don't think we can assume that everyone out there is over-describing. I see plenty of writing samples with talking heads that could use a bit of description of setting/character actions/body language/whatever to bring the scene to life.

    A writing instructor once had our class highlight a scene from our story in 3 colors: One for action/dialogue, one for sensory detail, and one for "concept," which was basically internal monologue or exposition that wasn't specifically action. A lot of writers found that they tended to favor one or two of those things. Beefing up the one you're weak in can help make a scene come alive.

    So I don't think it's about padding. It's about fleshing out the story. Putting some meat on the bones.
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  25. #25
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    None of those are done to expand the word count, and not one of them is remotely simple.

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