Author Topic: like trying to fit four pounds of jello in a two pound bag...  (Read 3777 times)

Offline 007 fan

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So, I was a dope and didn't know while I was writing my first novel that word counts can be an issue.

Having to split my 206k novel where the character is reflecting on previous year/fear of a growing disbelief of something/not daring to think what the next year will bring for him or his people...blah...blah...blah...

Anyway, the split is 125k for first half, and 81k for what would now be part two.  Trimmed 6k so far from the first halfish and am about a 1/4 of the way through, but it is such hard work.

I've been going line by line, extracting extraneous words, rewriting sentences or paragraphs with less words while retaining what I want said kind of thing.  Am I going about it all wrong?  Still wondering if I should start from scratch and rewrite the entire original 206k with the knowledge of what an acceptable word count is for the type of book I wrote and seeing if I can get the whole thing to just under 110k.  Feels impossible to do because so much happens, but I can' help but wonder how the story would have turned out if I knew I needed to keep it under a certain count all along.

The story was intended to be book one of a 8 book series, because of the split, it's bumped to 9!  Cripes.

Complaining feels good!  lol

« Last Edit: June 26, 2014, 01:13:39 AM by ece007 »
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Offline Tahani Nelson

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Re: like trying to fit four pounds of jello in a two pound bag...
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2014, 11:42:09 PM »
Good heavens! I'm amazed you have so much planned out in advance, much less that your word count is "too high". I barely know what's going to happen to my characters three paragraphs from now. If I were to plan 8 books into the future, I'd never make it that far because one of the characters would do something to mess it up in the next couple chapters. They do that sometimes.

Anyway, to answer your question: I think what you're doing is the right way to go about it. Look at every word and make it prove to you that it's necessary. Make sure that that word is providing something that none of the other words in your entire book are providing. If they're not, drop them.

For what it's worth, I'm in the same boat you are-- I tend to have a lot of superfluous information, and I often use way too many words trying to explain *exactly* what I want to say in a way that everyone will understand it. As you said: four pounds of jello.

Don't worry. Just keep working on it. Sounds like you're on the right track, anyway.

Offline 007 fan

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Re: like trying to fit four pounds of jello in a two pound bag...
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2014, 12:33:16 AM »
Good heavens! I'm amazed you have so much planned out in advance, much less that your word count is "too high". I barely know what's going to happen to my characters three paragraphs from now. If I were to plan 8 books into the future, I'd never make it that far because one of the characters would do something to mess it up in the next couple chapters. They do that sometimes. I had a solid outline.  And, the story originally wasn't a series.  It was a realization when I understood that there was no way all that I had planned would fit - the book would have been two feet thick. 

Anyway, to answer your question: I think what you're doing is the right way to go about it. Look at every word and make it prove to you that it's necessary. Make sure that that word is providing something that none of the other words in your entire book are providing. If they're not, drop them.  Yes, I'm about 50 pages in and have trimmed over 7k words, and think if I go back over first 50 again, could trim a little more.  My fantasy is that I can somehow keep story whole, trimming the 206k to maybe 109k.  To split in half would have a less flashy ending for first half - leaving MC reflecting on previous year/worry for next/and a growing fear of something...not exciting like my original ending if story can stay whole.

For what it's worth, I'm in the same boat you are-- I tend to have a lot of superfluous information, and I often use way too many words trying to explain *exactly* what I want to say in a way that everyone will understand it. As you said: four pounds of jello.  That sucks, but at least I'm not the only one.  lol

Don't worry. Just keep working on it. Sounds like you're on the right track, anyway.

Well, I didn't think anyone would respond to the post, I think my questions were lost in my complaints.   :)

I see you are a newbie, and will give you a karma point (hitting applause button below karma count) for joining QT and for responding to the post that languished in loneliness.  Welcome to the forums.  Lots of nice people, and you will learn a lot.  Looking forward to seeing you around.  :)
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Offline Sarah Ahiers (Falen)

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Re: like trying to fit four pounds of jello in a two pound bag...
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2014, 08:16:40 AM »
I've been going line by line, extracting extraneous words, rewriting sentences or paragraphs with less words while retaining what I want said kind of thing.  Am I going about it all wrong?  Still wondering if I should start from scratch and rewrite the entire original 206k with the knowledge of what an acceptable word count is for the type of book I wrote and seeing if I can get the whole thing to just under 110k. 

No i don't think this is the wrong way to go about it. I mean, that kind of work needs to be done on every manuscript anyway, so you might as well start there and see where it gets you.

Yes you could start over, and there's probably an argument to be made there, but if you do, you're going to have to do all of this to that new version, too, so it's not like you can get away from doing this kind of line by line revision work. It needs to get done at some point, no matter what.

So i say finish it up, then see where you're at. And if you still feel like you need to just rewrite, well the revision then was good practice, which is always good
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Offline olashorty

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Re: like trying to fit four pounds of jello in a two pound bag...
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2014, 11:28:17 AM »
Haha, I'm with you on word count issues, though not that high (props for even writing that much!). I'd thought all MSes should be around 100K+ at first, so it's been a substantial amount of cutting since then, on top of line edits and whatnot. A friend of mine started with a super-high count too, though. (Planning for 12 books; first novel was like 200K+,  :no:)

I second Falen's post, more or less-- I'd continue revising. If you need to rewrite, you can do that later, but either way you're going to have to revise anyway, whether you work on what you have or a new rewrite.

I understand the feeling, though, re: what a work would turn out like if you'd written it at another time (ie. when you knew more about writing/word counts/etc.). I think you'll just have to follow your gut.

Offline RKarina

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Re: like trying to fit four pounds of jello in a two pound bag...
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2014, 01:21:35 PM »
I agree with Falen - go through the whole thing, start to finish, with an eye for tightening things up exactly as you've described. She's right - you'll have to do it at some point anyway, may as well be now.

The added bonus there, is you've just discovered another opportunity to find and fix any errors, smooth things out, and make it an even more attractive package when you start to query.

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Offline 007 fan

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Re: like trying to fit four pounds of jello in a two pound bag...
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2014, 04:15:01 PM »
Thanks everyone!  I am continuing the LBL, including rewriting paragraphs if I can say the same with less words.  Even deleted, hard to do, things that actually don't have to do with story, and maybe not so necessary to paint a picture of Stone Age era life.

Karma to everyone, but for RKMW.  I just gave you one for the time you spent on the sample I sent you.  It's like swimming after eating, giving karma points requires an hour wait before they can be given again.   :)
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Offline RKarina

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Re: like trying to fit four pounds of jello in a two pound bag...
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2014, 04:18:53 PM »

Karma to everyone, but for RKMW.  I just gave you one for the time you spent on the sample I sent you.  It's like swimming after eating, giving karma points requires an hour wait before they can be given again.   :)


Aww, nice analogy...and thanks...I stuck my nose in on this one because I genuinely liked your style! (and I understand the tendency toward verbosity...  :wink: I'm usually guilty!)

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Offline benjj

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Re: like trying to fit four pounds of jello in a two pound bag...
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2014, 06:12:07 PM »
OMG! 206k.  :eek:  As an MG'r, that would be a life-time achievement for me. I'm impressed.

Offline Falthor

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Re: like trying to fit four pounds of jello in a two pound bag...
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2014, 06:58:54 PM »
just to shatter that amazing comparrisson...  they have actually scietifically proven that you don't have to wait an hour after a meal to swim.  You are no more at risk of cramps either way.
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