I have noticed that most people seem to be over-writers. Being an under-writer myself, I always found it hard to find posts on raising word-count rather than lowering it. Now, after digging through the web for some advice and doing a lot of work on my own, I’ve more than doubled my word-count for my novel, Outliers. So, this is some advice for all the other underwriters out there.
Are You Stressing About Nothing?
Before you make some major changes to your story, make sure you really need to raise your word count. It’s okay to be a bit off the norm if you have a sound, well-developed story.
Look At Plot
Even though your story is already written, it can help to do a quick outline of the main plot-points in your novel. Then, you can analyze it to ensure it has all the aspects it should. For example, my story had completely missed the breaking point. I hadn’t realized until I did an outline, but the story lacked real struggle for the characters. I went back and added in the breaking point, which not only improved my story a great deal, but also raised my word-count.
Another thing to look at is subplots. Do you have any? Having subplots is important to add complexity and depth to your story. Your character should be real, and that means existing outside their main goal. If you do have subplots in place, check them over. Make sure they are well developed and a consistent part of the book (give them as much attention as you would a main plot).
Look At Dialogue
Is your dialogue simply “he said.” and “she said.”? Without descriptions it can sound like it’s robots talking. That might work if your story is about robots, but if not, you’ve probably got some work to do. Not every piece of dialogue needs description, but a lot of pieces should have it. You can describe tone, movement, and expressions. All of these will not only raise your word-count, but they will make your characters and scenes comes alive.
Setting The Scene
Setting the scene can help to remind the reader of where and when the story takes place, as well as create a mood for them. It can help readers to visualize, provide foreshadowing, etc. For example, if you’re writing a romance, maybe you describe the beauty around your characters, the sunset, the light breeze. All of those things make the scene vivid to the readers and raise your word-count at the same time.
Look For Words That Tell
I’m sure you have all heard the phrase “Show Don’t Tell”. It basically means to take your reader through what is happening and let them experience it, rather than just telling them it happened. For example, instead of saying “She walked to the store”, describe the character’s walk. What did she see? What was it like outside? Did she interact with anybody? How was she walking (slow, in a skip, stumbling, etc)? Expanding words/phrases like these may not seem like much, but it adds up.
This can also apply to thoughts and explanations. You can go deeper into how your character is thinking or feeling, or explain a bit more about your story’s world.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to do this for everything, in fact you probably shouldn’t. Make sure the description will be of value to the reader before you add it.
This is the same idea as show don’t tell. Instead of “She said, sadly.” try “She said, her eyes downcast and her voice solemn.”. This means more visuals for the reader and more words for you.
Some adverbs are fine in my opinion, but try to get rid of them where you can.
Is there any? If not, you might want to consider adding some. Maybe you won’t be able to add a lot, but it’s better than nothing. Everything adds up.
Don’t be so worried. I never thought I would be able to double my word-count, but here I am. It might be hard, but you can achieve your word-count goal if you set your mind to it.
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With all of this in mind, go out and write your masterpiece!