How to Bolster Word Counts with Rewrites
Some days the magic just flows. Your story comes out in a rush. Maybe it’s the coffee, maybe it’s the excitement of Nano, maybe your muse has been snorting ginseng again. Whatever caused it you don’t care. You just keep writing. It’s every author’s dream! The story basically writes itself and you simply have to move your hands fast enough to keep up. It’s wondrous!
Before you know it you’re writing “The End”. You’ve got it! It’s out and written and time to celebrate and congratulate yourself and…
And that’s when you notice that your word count is looking pretty small. How could that happen? You wrote the whole complicated story out. But the number isn’t changing no matter how hard you stare at it. Poking it doesn’t help either. Reality, that terrible breaker of hopes, set in. You have to add to add something more to your story. You need to fatten it up and flesh it out.
Start at the beginning
Take a break. Walk it off. Rest your mind long enough to let you have fresh eyes. Then we start where all things must start, at the beginning. This is the most important part for readers. It has to hook your audience, draw them into the story, and explain the situation. Does it answer the basic, who, what, when, where, why? And beyond that, does it set the mood? Does the opening fully explain the setting? Did you miss any of the important details?
You’re not really editing at this point, read your book as the story it is. Take your time. Read it chapter by chapter. If you have a program that will read text out loud, use that as well. Check A.M. Rycroft’s article to see if each chapter in your book has enough words to tell the entire scene. Can you see the characters, the setting? Does it jump around? Do you need to add in transitions or explanations to smooth things out?
Add to the Middle
Everyone has a back story. And an inner voice. As long as it doesn’t get repetitive or whiny everyone likes insight into the characters they are reading about. “Filling in the missing pieces” as Emily calls it in her article is a great way to add not only to your word count but also add to your overall story. Add dialogue and mannerisms to your characters. Please, don’t have them yank their braid every chapter, but they can smooth their hair, get embarrassed, fiddle with a knife.
There are plenty of pitfalls to watch out for as Josh warns us in his video when adding dialogue, but it’s a tried and true method of explaining.
Her nose wrinkled and she coughed lightly, trying to clear her throat. “What is that smell? Where is it coming from?”
That reads better, and uses more words, than a generic scene explanation.
A foul smell drifted in with the breeze.
It explains the scene and the characters reaction, and opens up a reasonable dialogue that can continue to add content and word count.
If you’ve made it all the way to the end and still want to add to your word count see if there is any place you can add a scene. A prologue. An epilogue. Don’t forget that you can add mass to your novel with front matter and back matter if it’s needed. If you can’t find a place to add words to your story, pass it off to a trusted beta reader. Ask where it needs filling out. If they can’t suggest anything more than you might need to ask a professional.
If you’re doing NaNo this month this month you might need some help on how to up your word counts. But if you’ve done NaNo before maybe you have some ideas to share. If you do, please share with us in the comments section below. We always like to hear from our readers.