Does your MS go up or down in size?

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PaulWoodlin
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by PaulWoodlin » February 24th, 2010, 10:05 pm

Definitely up. Plot and dialogue come most naturally to me, so I start off with a lot of white rooms. Sometimes when I'm reading I will skim over description to get back to the plot. When I was reading Bleak House I skimmed two whole chapters because Dickens was dragging out the suspense of a main character's disappearance.

On the other hand, sometimes a writer will have some description that is so evocative I get prose envy, but it's never so long that it weighs down the plot. And from time to time an editor will ask for a rewrite, and it will usually involve adding more words.

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Sesquipedalian
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by Sesquipedalian » February 26th, 2010, 12:53 pm

I'm afraid I suffer from the opposite problem. My WIP currently weighs in at just over 76,000 words and I I'm only about halfway through the story. Once I switch to editing mode I'll have to get the machete out and start chopping--a slice here, a chunk there. Actually, I've got a couple of scenes in mind that may just have to be sacrificed for the greater good. It's going to be painful and I might even shed a fear tears. Or maybe I'll make sure to keep a few bottles of wine handy to help me deal with the pain. ;)

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FK7
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by FK7 » February 26th, 2010, 2:12 pm

If you ever have to cut I'd cut down on descriptions. Nothing kills the pace more than 3-page long description of someone's clothing or eye color. Unless the extensive physical description of someone or a place adds to the story's plot or is significant in its meaning, I would stray away from long descriptions.

kristi
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by kristi » February 26th, 2010, 4:46 pm

I'm with adtabb -- I write the bare bones of the story first, which is why my first draft went pretty quickly. I'm 20 pages away from completion of my final revision and I've added about 4K to the story to flesh it out. It seems way easier to do it that way than to have to cut.

crazywritergirl
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by crazywritergirl » February 26th, 2010, 5:42 pm

My novels always grow substantially because the first draft doesn't take into account all the cool plot twists nor the heavy emotional bits. So I aim for a first draft in the 75-80K range and will end up with something around 93K or so. After the editor requested an add'l subplot, the manuscript topped out at 99.4K. The next one? Who knows.

JudyinBoston
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by JudyinBoston » February 26th, 2010, 7:08 pm

My MS always has to be cut. Sometimes drastically. I had a writing teacher once (Michael Levin) who said that it was always easier to cut than to add. I write everything I can think to, and then prune, usually 5000-10000 words. Of course, that hurts. Ouch!

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aspiring_x
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by aspiring_x » February 27th, 2010, 11:38 pm

mine has shrunk significantly. the original intro and chapter 1 was nearly 8000 words (split into an intro, chap1, and chap2) Now, it's much tighter at a tid bit over 2500 words. Nathan's advice to start the story as late as you can, and EXQUISITE advice from my critique partners have helped me shear it down to size. :)

barbarienne
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by barbarienne » March 2nd, 2010, 4:07 pm

I'm a putter-inner. My work always gets longer.

My first drafts tend to look a bit like scripts: mostly dialogue. I can generate page after page of conversation with little effort. Action scenes, too go down on the keys pretty easily. But then I have to go back and add transitions. And I have to fill in all the gaps where I wrote just a note, something like, "X goes to pub and has conversation with Y, setting up next scene. Remember to mention [fiddly detail A, fiddly detail B] to set up plot twist three chapters later."

I rush when I write, and don't bog down in details, because I know I'm going to rewrite it all anyway. I add about 20% to everything.

dode
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by dode » March 8th, 2010, 1:17 am

This may have already been commented on in the same vein, but my first draft was about 80k. And i thought, 'it's got to be longer, longer longer. More stuff needs to happen.' And with each consecutive draft(2, 3, 4, 5, 6...) i added to the manuscript thinking it was for the best. Most of it was just trying to put in everything in my characters lives, because for me, like all of you, my characters have full lives. But when i began my sixth/seventh rewrites I realized the importance of portraying the relevant information. Having to choose what is important for the reader really is hard, and bigger isn't always better.

Now, my finished manuscript, is roughly 110k.

So my advice would be put everything in that you can, cut it out later. Sometimes its hard to cut information in the writing process, but easier to look back at it and say, "this is interesting, but has nothing to do with anything."

Either build character, plot, conflict, or take it out.

victoria
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by victoria » March 8th, 2010, 2:02 am

Mine goes up - usually it's filling in scenes that I haven't elaborated on in my first draft (that while they're so clear in my head, aren't so on the paper!). My current WIP went up to 78, 000 from 72, 000
http://victoriapantazis.blogspot.com
Sharing my research on how teens read and applying it to the process of writing.

A.M.Kuska
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by A.M.Kuska » March 8th, 2010, 6:57 pm

I'm not sure if it's too late to respond to this post, but I also share the problem of low word count. My solution was to buy a couple of books by Donald Maass, Writing the Breakout Novel, and the accompanying handbook. I can't praise these two books enough, and the workbook makes a huge difference in adding muscle to the bones we're so good at constructing.

What I loved so much about these books is that they include writing exercises you can use the material from in your novel. I'm not a fan of writing exercises about flowers and ladybugs when I'm trying to write a novel that has nothing to do with either. Words are precious. Why waste them on throw-away exercises?

My first attempt at novel writing topped out at an embarrassing 50,000 words. When I cut the unusable material, it came down to 30,000. My second novel which I'm currently in the process of rewriting is about 80,000 words. That's a huge improvement, and it's all muscle, no fluff.

bronwyn1
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by bronwyn1 » March 8th, 2010, 11:52 pm

Mine usually goes down because when I revise, I take out all of those unnecessary "that"'s, adverbs, passive voice, et cetera

A.M.Kuska
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by A.M.Kuska » March 9th, 2010, 9:52 am

Interesting, haven't heard of removing "that". What do you replace it with, or do you just cut it and don't add anything, like I often do with adverbs?

bronwyn1
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by bronwyn1 » March 9th, 2010, 7:15 pm

A.M.Kuska wrote:Interesting, haven't heard of removing "that". What do you replace it with, or do you just cut it and don't add anything, like I often do with adverbs?
Usually I don't replace it with anything (i.e. I have a sentence like "She wanted to go to the park so that she could play with her dog." I'd change that to "She wanted to go to the park so she could play with her dog."). And all the other times, I just re-tool the sentences as to make the 'that' obsolete. It's probably nothing, just personal preference/wordiness on my part.

A.M.Kuska
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Re: Does your MS go up or down in size?

Post by A.M.Kuska » March 9th, 2010, 7:36 pm

IHmm, I wonder if my work would read stronger without "that." I'll have to check my work. Thanks for the details. ^^

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