Monday, July 14, 2014

Tips for Meeting Your Target Word Count with Missy Tippens



Tips for Meeting Your Target Word Count
By Missy Tippens

How many of you have had trouble meeting your target word count on a project? Have you typed The End and found you’ve come out way too short? Or have you finished the story and realized you needed to cut 10,000 words?

I’ve actually done both. And neither is fun.

On my first several books for Love Inspired (the target for a contemporary LI is 55-60,000 words by computer word count), my first drafts came in long. Anywhere from a couple of thousand words over to nearly 20,000 over (I had been targeting a single title line that Harlequin had closed).

When you’re talking about cutting 20k words, you have to take drastic measures. In my case, I made the cuts before I made my first sale. The editor said I basically had two endings so to cut one. :) Um, yeah, I hope I’ve improved since then! She also had me cut out a good bit of one subplot. Both those changes cut a large chunk of extra words. From there I made lots of smaller changes that helped whittle down the words.

Tips for Making Large Cuts in Word Count

--Cut subplots that may not be needed.

--Cut secondary characters you may not need (combine characters to allow one character to do more).

--Cut scenes that don’t pull their weight. Make sure the pov character has a goal for that scene that ties in to the story length goal and that he is pursuing it. If nothing changes, no matter how fun or sweet or thrilling it is, then cut the scene.

--Don’t drag out the ending. No matter how much you love your characters, you eventually do have to tell them goodbye. :)

photo credit: Crestock/yuriz


Tips for Making Small Cuts in Word Count

--Do a word search and cut your pet words. It’s always fun for me to see how many times I cut the word “just” out of my manuscripts. :) Make a list of your pet words, keep it on your computer, and print a copy each time you edit a manuscript. Also add to that list any other problems you need to check for. Then search and destroy. Ask your critique partner to help you create a list.

--Cut descriptions you don’t need. Make sure the descriptions you keep do more work, such as showing emotion.

--“Don’t walk the dog” (as Janet Dean tells me when reading some of my scenes). You don’t have to include every step a character takes. On one manuscript, Janet suggested I cut the hero getting the baby ready to leave the house, making the decision to buy lunch for the heroine, then going to buy sandwiches. She suggested I open with him showing up at the heroine’s office with the bag in hand. The scene now works so much better (thanks, Janet!).

--Don’t start scenes like a dated journal. Jump right into the action, anchoring the reader with action and dialogue.

--As a last resort, I do what Mary Connealy once suggested. Divide the number of words you need to cut by the total number of pages. That will give you the number of words per page to cut. Need to cut 2000 words from a 250 page book? Just cut 8 words per page, which shouldn’t be too hard.

photo credit: Crestock/Feverpitched

After a few years of writing books that kept turning out long, thinking that was the very worst thing that could happen, I experienced my first manuscript draft that ended up too short. And then I decided that was the very worst thing that could happen. :)

In fact, when I finished the first draft of my most recent manuscript (turned in the end of June, hallelujah!), it was 48,000 words! Remember, it’s supposed to be 55k. OUCH.

Now, typically, my first drafts grow about 2000 words as I do second and third drafts. So coming in a little short is good for me. But 7000 words short? NOT GOOD.

So, I started through the process of revising. It grew some before I sent it off for critique, but it was still short. As I finished making changes after the critiques, I went over the 55k mark. Relief!

Photo credit: Crestock/MasterofAll686


Here are some ways I learned I can fill in and lengthen a manuscript…

Tips for Increasing Word Count

--Make sure to describe each new character as he/she comes on stage. Just keep in mind that descriptions are often better done by another character (the hero describing the heroine instead of the heroine looking in a mirror or thinking of her own description).

--Do a read-through looking for flow. Do scenes seem to be missing? Maybe you skipped a scene you thought might not be necessary but realized on reading that it’s actually needed. Add it.

--Add the difficult-to-write scenes. Sometimes I’ve summarized a painful scene thinking it doesn’t need to be on screen. But consider including it (as long as it’s appropriate for your target readers). Does the hero need to have that painful discussion with his father about his mother’s death? Does the heroine need to tell the hero about giving up her baby for adoption? Don’t shy away from it. Add it.

--Layer, layer, layer. My first drafts are typically talking heads (although I’m getting better at filling in as I go). I won’t go into this deeply because we’ve had many great posts on layering here in Seekerville. Recently, Glynna Kaye did a 3-part series on layering. Here’s a link to several of those posts: click here.

--Show, don’t tell. We’ve always heard this. But one benefit is that it often increases word count. Instead of telling that Betty was sad and avoided the grief by sleeping all the time, show Betty walking into a quiet room, looking at her deceased husband’s empty recliner, then immediately avoiding that room by heading to bed early, trying to focus on a book but re-reading a page for the fourth time.

--Have you brought all plot threads through the whole story? Tie up any loose ends.

--Make sure the story comes full circle. Show how the characters have changed and earned their happy ending.

--Consider adding an epilogue.


I hope this was helpful! I’d love to hear your experiences with writing short or long. Can you add any tips?

I’ll be giving away IOU’s (should arrive sometime in August) for FIVE copies of my upcoming book from Love Inspired. The Guy Next Door is available for pre-order now! I’m really excited about this book. I had so much fun writing it! Please LET ME KNOW in the comments if you’d like to be entered.




From Friend to…FiancĂ©?  

Stalwart and steady, Darcy O'Malley has been by Luke Jordan's side since childhood. She has seen him through trials and tragedies, romances and breakups. They've been everything to each other—except boyfriend and girlfriend. Why ruin a good thing? What Luke can't explain, however, is why suddenly Darcy's presence is making his heart beat so hard. Something has changed since he left Appleton, and it's making him uneasy. Is it possible his best friend is meant to be something more? Dare he risk their perfect friendship in the hopes of finding his perfect wife?

115 comments:

Helen Gray said...

My debut book had to be cut from 73,500 words to 50,000.

I recently pulled out an older ms and cut it from 87K to 50K.

Call me The Slasher!

Coffee's set to brew.

Melissa Jagears said...

I've never had to do the add word thing. (I've had to cut!) but I just wanted to say that if I skip scenes when writing the rough draft it is always a really hard emotional scene, I'll have summarized it....very wrong thing to do. I'm now catching most of them before the crit partner points out that I skipped it. But I just thought that was a really good tip. Find the emotional scene you summarized that took place DURING the story (not a backstory scene) and you could add a whole new scene, that's lottsa words!

Vince said...

Hi Missy:

Wonderful post!

You gave me a great idea for adding words to my book. Instead of looking for ways to add words, look for ways to add rewards to your story! (Like adding AEs.) Make your story a more rewarding reading experience and you’ll get better reviews and sell more books.

Yep, I have to add how to do this to my Rewards book today.

And yes, please put me down for an early copy of your new book.

Vince

Loves To Read said...

Hi Missy! I'd love to bd entered in the drawing for your book,

Suzie Johnson said...

This is really helpful for me right now, Missy! Thanks for the great advice.

Kav said...

Oy -- I am so guilty of 'walking the dog'!!! And I'm always way over the word count. Time to shorten that puppy's leash!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Helen, you're my kind of girl, LOL!

Thank you for the coffee, sweet thing. It's hitting the spot!!!

Okay, Missy, this is such good advice, and I JUST PRE-ORDERED THIS BOOK!!!!!!!

HAPPY!!!!!!!

I love the cover, camping, campfires, fall nights, long, color-filled days... sigh...

Now I seriously tend to over-write (Julie and I have started an Overwriters Anonymous Club that we'll co-chair, no dues required as long as you talk too much!!!!!)

:)

But I can also see how helpful this is and can be applied to novellas beautifully.

If I take your tactics here and apply them to a shorter story, I can build more quickly and keep valid story points. AWESOME, TIPPENS!!!!!!

I brought cookies we bought on our road trip yesterday, from Lights' Bakery in Elmira...

DELICIOUS!!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Melissa, YES... and I never have to add words either, so I look for the unnecessary scenes, side trips (scenic Ruthy-tour, LOL!) and that helps me cut back.

You're so right about including those scenes that sometimes we skip fleshing out to get to the next scene...

Those can be crucial.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Kav, LOL.

YES!!!!!

Slice-and-dice!

Mary Hicks said...

Thanks for the words of wisdom, Missy! Filling this away for future reference.:-)

I can't imagine which would be the hardest to do, stretch a story or chop one back!

I'd love a copy of your book. :-)

Missy Tippens said...

Good morning! Helen, thanks for the coffee! I've got some pecan waffles with fresh Georgia peaches this morning! And I bet Ruthy will serve some yummy real maple syrup with it if we ask nicely. :)

Helen the Slasher, you're a pro at this now! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Melissa, isn't it funny how we do that? We miss deep, emotional moments. But I think sometimes we have to be in the right place to write those scenes. It can be draining.

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, that's a good point! To look specifically at adding AE's.

I've got you entered! And I also meant to say that the winners will be given the choice of print or e-book. So you can have your larger e-book font if you like. :)

Missy Tippens said...

I've got your entered Loves to Read!

SUZIE, I'm glad it was helpful!

KAV, LOL! I know. I'm a dog walker, too. I think it's because it just takes me a while to get going in a scene. Like getting a car cranked up. :)

Missy Tippens said...

RUTHY, thank you!!! You're the second sale, I guess. My across-the-street neighbor from my childhood emailed to say she already pre-ordered one. :) So sweet!

I can't wait to hear more about your weekend trip. Thanks for the bakery goodies!!

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy, also meant to say I'm dying laughing at the over-writers club and the waived dues!! LOLOL

Missy Tippens said...

Mary H, I think the most difficult one is the one we're doing at the moment!! LOL I always thought I had it hardest when I was writing too long. But oh my. When I hit too short on the last couple of books, I changed my mind. :)

Janet Dean said...

Missy, thanks for the excellent tips to cut or grow a manuscript!

When we're short on word count that typically means I need to show the emotion more. Takes more time and energy. Writing emotion can be draining.

Ever notice how a new pet word or physical response like clenched hands or smiles crop up in every book? To get rid of them is fun, like pulling weeds in a garden.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Laughing that our sweet coffeemaker Helen's nickname is The Slasher.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Kav, shortening that puppy's leash is a fun way to think of writing tight!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Ruthy, thanks for the yummy cookies. Road trips are such fun!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Vince, excellent way to ensure those added words are reward the reader.

I think it's hard to know when the book is really done. There's so many things to consider.

Janet

Audra Harders said...

Missy, great post! You covered the short and the long of it perfectly.

I tend to write long. My saving grace is that I KNOW when I'm in rough draft mode, I tend to announce action, dialogue, etc. So going back and cutting words is often a matter of cutting sentences.

I love the premise of your new book! Friendship romances are my favorite.

Way to go, Missy!

Audra Harders said...

The Slasher, LOL! Helen, I have a hard time picturing this...

Audra Harders said...

I agree, Kav. I guess while my mind is working out the scene, my fingers are taking dictation.

Walking the dog. Ha. I wish my rotund Corgi took as many steps as my fingers pound out words!

Audra Harders said...

Great cookies, Ruthy! Cookies for breakfast, can a Monday get any better?

Audra Harders said...

Vince, I have a few scenes where I just wrote the dialogue. Wrapping in the emotion for RPP is a great idea.

I've GOT to remember to this more often!

Jackie said...

Hi Missy,

Thanks for the great tips! I'm going to hang on to this post.

Your book cover is so cute. It "just" makes me smile. Please add my name to the drawing.

I hope you all have a great week!

Missy Tippens said...

JANET, I do have those pet words in each book (in addition to my regular pet words). I'm wracking my brain to remember the one on my last mss. It was something ridiculous. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Audra, I had so much fun with this one. My heroine had a crush on him her whole life, so she knew she needed to battle her feelings. But it sure was fun showing the hero coming to realize he was attracted to her. His best friend! He was shocked! Felt guilty. LOL

SO FUN.

Rose said...

To avoid coming in longer or shorter, I divide the total word count by approximate number of chapters, which is usually 15 for me and then try to keep the chapters to the appropriate length.

So for a 45K book with 15 chapters, each chapter needs to be 3000 words.

This really helps me keep on track and during revisions, I can increase the manuscript up to 5000words.

Missy Tippens said...

hahahah, JACKIE! I loved your "just" comment. :) :)

You know, I wonder if southerners say "just" more?? I say it all the time in real life, thus it goes in my writing.

Missy Tippens said...

ROSE, that's a great idea! Being proactive sure would save work (and panic).

On the last books that have come up short, I think what happened is I got into full-steam-ahead mode as I approached the black moment. I barreled through too fast. But I just love blazing through the end of a book! I need to control myself better. LOL

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Missy,
When it comes to books, reading is my first love, but every so often I think I'd like to tip my toes in the writing pool.

I'm fascinated by all the posts on Seekerville about the mechanics of writing and all that goes into making a book an enjoyable experience for the reader. I take each one to heart.

I realize just how hard the seekers work (that "just" was for you Missy :) and appreciate the time it takes to hone skills.

I may have to join Ruthy's Overwriters support group, I qualify because I talk to much.

I'd love to read your newest book, please enter me in your drawing.

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, TRACEY. Thanks for that "just" in my honor. :)

You know, I had the itch to write off an on for a while before I finally jumped in. I actually decided to try it but waited until I we got our first computer. :) I wasn't dedicated enough to write with paper and pen!

Debby Giusti said...

Great tips on adding and subtracting, Missy! Both are difficult, especially when a deadline looms.

Combining two characters into one is a great idea that tightens the story.

Can't wait for your next release. What a fun blurb with the concerned hero not wanting to lose his BFF. Ah, that love! It plays havoc with a guy's emotions. LOL!

Marianne Barkman said...

When I'm writing reviews, I have trouble...especially when I'm already gushing! Would love to win your novel, Missy! Has anyone told you lately that YOU ROCK!!!

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, Missy ... I saw your title and figured your blog had to do with ADDING word count and thought -- well, that leaves me out!

My first five books ranged from 144,000 words to 172,000, but that all ended when my publisher's legal department made me stick to the contracted 120,000 word limit on my 6th and final book in that series, which my editor never made me do on the first five books.

Consequently, I was required to cut 50,000 words from that book, bringing it down to the contracted 120,000, which took me 2 or 3 passes through to finally do, so I sure wish I had your blog back then!!

DEFINITELY need to earmark it for the future, because I have a feeling I'm going to need it, so THANK YOU!! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning MIssy, Great tips. I"ve done both myself and think its easier to cut stuff than add. lol I"m so used to doing that as I'm sooooo wordy. sigh.

Have a great day. Hugs

Missy Tippens said...

DEBBY, that's so true! A deadline adds extra pressure.

I"m glad it was helpful for you. And yes, I had so much fun torturing this hero. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Marianne, it would be tough to keep under a certain word count for reviews as well--especially if you love the book.

Thanks! You just made my morning. :)

Missy Tippens said...

JULIE, I'm glad you kept reading! LOL

I thought of you as I was writing about making cuts. Figured you'd think coming up short would be impossible. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Sandra, I'm glad I'm not the only one who has written both long and short. Honestly, after so many long books, it shocked me to come up short. Now that's happened twice. Don't know what my deal is. I think like Rose suggested, I need to plan those chapters better.

Rose said...

BTW Missy,

My sister says that I make my writing into a math problem! HA!

Myra Johnson said...

Lots of excellent advice here, Missy--thanks! I've found myself on both ends of the cut/add spectrum, too.

For One Imperfect Christmas, my first published novel, my editor said I needed more in the beginning to set up the conflict, so I ended up writing 4 or 5 whole new chapters for her!

My second published novel, Autumn Rains was about 20K longer when I first started submitting it. When I decided to submit to Heartsong Presents, the extra 20K had to go! It's amazing what you can find to cut and still keep the important parts of the story.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Interesting. I don't do drafts. I am very bad, in that I polish over and over as I start each day. But I really love cutting. Though it rarely happens except on old books I have in the sock drawer.

Tina Radcliffe said...

VINCE~! How's that rewards book coming along???

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, Rose! Whatever works! :)

Missy Tippens said...

MYRA-- so you've have to cut 20k too?! It's not easy.

I imaging adding those opening chapters could be fun, though.

Missy Tippens said...

So TINA, you usually come in about the right word count?? Nice!

You know, I was thinking the same thing. VINCE, when will the book be available????

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Missy,

Very timely post for me as I have to cut 10,000 words from my historical! I'm doing the word cutting part first before I have to cut whole scenes (Sob)!

Luckily I've just finished my line edits for my Love Inspired story and saw how my editor, Elizabeth, handled cutting my manuscript by eliminating repetitive thoughts and extra description. What a pro!

If I run into trouble, I can always call on The Slasher for help! LOL!

Love the cover of your new book! Can't wait to see mine.

How soon before the release date do Love Inspired typically reveal the cover? Mine is coming out in February.

Cheers,
Sue

Sandy Smith said...

Missy, I enjoyed reading these comments. Please do enter me in the drawing for your book. It looks great. I usually tend to write long. I also have the "walking the dog" problem. When I write a short story, I especially have a hard time starting with the action and not getting into the heart of the story.

Sandy Smith said...

Tina, I found it interesting that you don't do drafts but polish as you go along. The hardest thing for me is to start writing without worrying about fixing it. I can't stand the thought of writing something that I know will not be any good and will need changed anyway.

Pam Hillman said...

As someone who comes in short on word count, and am attempting to come in closer on my rough draft this time, it's good to know that short is worse than long!

I know this might sound weird-ish, but I don't concentrate on words in the first draft and the first couple of passes as much as I do scenes.

Past experience has shown me that my books average about 900-1k words per scene. The difference in my novels vs. my novellas, is that my novels have 3 scenes/sequels per chapter and my novellas have one scene per chapter.

15K novella = scenes/chapters.
20k novella = 20-25 scenes/chapters.

90k ms = 90-100 scenes/appx 3 scenes/sequels per chapter for a total of 25-30 chapters.

Missy Tippens said...

Sue, yes, it's tough to cut scenes! But Emily (my editor) is great about pointing out scenes that either need to be beefed up or cut. Once I take a look back at those scenes, I can tell exactly why it needs to be done. I'm hoping I get better at detecting those things myself before I turn in a book.

My book is an October release, and I got the cover file about a week or so ago. So about 3 months ahead. And remember, it comes out to the book club subscribers about 2 months ahead! :)

Missy Tippens said...

SANDY S, yes, short stories can be even more difficult! I'll be working on my novella soon, and I'll have to make certain to make every word count.

Wilani Wahl said...

Missy, I have a feeling I will need this post in the future, Right now I just need to finish the initial writing.

Please enter me in the drawing for your new book.

I hope everyone is doing well. This is a busy week for me. Neighborhood Bible Time this week. Thankfully this is in the old building. I haven't been able to attend church since May because I am allergic to the new building. I checked it out yesterday and I am still reacting to the new building.

Missy Tippens said...

PAM, it sounds like you have yours figured out like Rose does. I should check my average words per scene. I have no idea!

Pam Hillman said...

Ah, me and Rose. We are simpatico! :)

Oops, something got left out in my last comment:

15K novella = 15-20 scenes/chapters. Planning for about 20 gives me a few scenes to slash (aka HELEN THE SLASHER), if they don't pan out.

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

“I think it's hard to know when the book is really done. There's so many things to consider.”

Your comment above makes me think of the old entertainers who would tell the newcomers, “Always leave them wanting more…”

Maybe you don’t need to know when the book ends. You just have to end at a satisfying stopping point. Hopefully the reader will think it ended too soon and wish for more!

(Be sure to tell them where they can get more.) :)

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

Love the idea of having 50,000 more words for “A Love Surrendered”. At some point in the future you can add those words back in and publish a “Director’s Cut” like the movie producers do. For some reason people tend to think that the ‘good stuff’ was left out!

BTW: I think “Love at Any Cost” has the best black moments and conflict. Total credibility. Wonderful. Of course, this makes the real heroine the hero's sister!

S. Trietsch said...

Hi Missy!

My family can't believe I'm short on words ;-)

Stephanie

DebH said...

I needed this post Missy. I lean to the side of writing short. I was very short - like your 48K short scenario, on my Killer Voice entry.
*shame faced* I haven't truly worked on the ms since submitting (short). I'm expecting the "revise and resend" letter in the near future. i'm half afraid to expand without editor comments - but don't want to be seen as bad writer by doing nothing either, therefore, i've been making minor tweaks, but nothing of substance. *sigh*

the crits i received revealed i "told" more than "showed" when trying to expand on my word count. i think your post will help me add to word count without doing the telling junk.

i love the guy next door concept. would love a chance to win a copy. with all the writing i still need to do - i can wait and savor your book as a reward for meeting goals. well, i already do that with Seeker books anyway, but it's nice to get specific on which one is next, right?

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, Stephanie! You know, it's hard to edit ourselves when dealing with family! My family makes fun of me for embellishing the re-telling of stories. Who would have guessed I could do that??!!! :) :)

Missy Tippens said...

DebH, you can always save the version you turned in to LI, and then go ahead and start another copy, filling it out, adding words. That way you can cut and paste later the things you want to add. And leave out the things that don't fit with editor feedback.

Chill N said...

A very helpful post, Missy! Don't enter me in the drawing -- I have "The Guy Next Door" on pre-order.

A question. What do you mean by "Don’t start scenes like a dated journal"?

Thanks,
Nancy C

Jackie Smith said...

Oh Missy, I am so excited about your new book.....please count me in the drawing.
Beautiful cover!

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Missy! Lots of great advice here. My first MS was a YA that I was shooting for 100K. It ended up being about 125K! I'm reworking it to be shorter, and I've found several non-essential scenes to cut out, as well "walking the dog" sequences. In fact, I just cut out a scene where the character was getting ready for bed, which included brushing teeth, washing face, taking out contacts, etc. Um, doesn't "getting ready for bed" cover all that? ;)

Margaret Langridge said...

Missy Tippens, thanks for these tips. As I haven't actually written my first book yet, I'm sure I will find this very helpful! Thanks again :)

Missy Tippens said...

NANCY C, thank you!!! I really appreciate you ordering it!

As to your question… I'm talking about starting a scene with something like this:

On Friday morning, John got ready for work and then headed out the door, hoping he'd run into Sue later at the diner.

I'm bad about doing that. I think it's because I need to remind myself what day it is in the story and what's supposed to happen! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Jackie S, I've got you entered! Thanks for stopping by.

Missy Tippens said...

STEPHANIE Q.L., that's a perfect example! I'm glad you figured out what to cut. Isn't it funny how we don't think about not needing all that? But I think sometimes in our first draft we just need to write it to get ourselves going. Then we can fix it later. :)

Missy Tippens said...

MARGARET L, thanks for reading! I hope it's helpful. If you're just starting out, it can help to know the type book you're writing--novella, or single title or category length book like a Love Inspired.

Missy Tippens said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Missy Tippens said...

How's everyone's writing going right now? We'd love to hear what you're working on!

DebH said...

Missy
i read your suggestion and thought "Well, duh..."

So simple. Extra copy for filling the word count out and "old" copy to apply what works for the editors. it's not like i don't have room on the ol' hard drive for a second word document. *hand smack to face*

i think i'm really making things more difficult than they need to be.

thanks!

Mary Connealy said...

Great advice, Missy. I remember once needing to cut like...15k from a book, an older book that sold and what was a shame was IT WAS EASY and I didn't lose anything.

A hard lesson in making each scene advance the story.
No, revealing CHARACTER is not advancing the story

Tina Radcliffe said...

No. I didn't say I usually come in at word count, lol. I am usually short. But I then simply panic and go back and layer yet again.

Missy Tippens said...

DebH, it's not something I thought to do until I started waiting to hear back from submissions. :)

I now sometimes have several versions of stories. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Mary C, you're right! I used to think revealing character was a good scene goal. Well, it was probably an okay AUTHOR scene goal. But more important is the character's scene goal. :)

You know, I think I remember you mentioning that 15k you cut and didn't miss. :)

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, Tina. I'm glad to hear you're human. :)

Sandy Smith said...

Missy, you asked what we are working on. I am currently trying to get back to a novel which I had begun plotting a few years ago. I have a notebook where I wrote details about the characters, setting, and basic plot line. But I seem to remember writing more than I can now find. So feeling frustrated. But I guess I move on from here.

Heidi Robbins said...

Lots of great advice! Please enter me in your book giveaway! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Sandy, that would be frustrating. At least you have the notes. Do you think you could possibly find printed pages of what you've already written?

Heidi, thanks for reading! I have you entered.

Chill N said...

Thanks for the example, Missy! Now I understand.

I identify with wanting to be sure the reader, and I, keep the days straight. I'll endeavor to put that info, and what's supposed to happen, in a comment at the beginning of the scene -- and delete it when I'm finished :-)

Looking forward to your new book.

Nancy C

Jennifer Smith said...

I love this post...I'm usually one to has to cut a LOT of words, even in shorter-length projects. Thanks for this great post! And I'd love to be entered in the drawing for your upcoming release!

Sherida Stewart said...

This post is GREAT, Missy! I'll start the Underwriters Anonymous Club......but it appears we will be a small group. The manuscript I wrote "The End" on was only 35k....fine for a novella, but I want a novel! Your suggestions with certainly help. Thanks! And I'm "getting" the layering concept......with practice. Thanks for the link to the past posts on that topic.

In addition, I'm anticipating the "rewards" book Vince is writing. Rewards are always good!

Love the cover and theme of your next book! Please put my name in the hat. :)

Walt Mussell said...

When I met with one editor (Abingdon), she told me I needed to add 10,000 words.

I gave the villain a POV.

Still haven't sold the book, but I know that works.

Vince said...

Hi Tina & Missy:

I need to take a lesson from your post today and cut everything out of my Rewards book except what was in the original first and second draft. I’ll just go with that and then put the rest of the material in a second book or an expanded, new and improved, second edition. I keep getting ideas of ways to expand and improve the book and that really makes finishing it all but impossible. I’ll start tomorrow getting it down to first edition size and then having a line editor go to work on it. I think this is the only way for me to go at this point. If I do this I think I can have it up on Kindle in 60 days. I think I’ll start a countdown.

Missy Tippens said...

Nancy C, thanks! I'm glad that helps.

Missy Tippens said...

Jennifer, I think short projects would be the hardest!

I've got you entered. :)

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, Sherida! I feel your pain. You know, I'd like to think my novella will be easier. But I have a feeling I'll end up going over my word count for that one! :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Vince, yes!!!! Countdown to Rewards, an excellent idea!!!!!

DEB H.... OR..... You can start your next book, goof!!!!!

There is no waiting.

There is no waiting.

Waiting is counter-productive to manic friends like Ruthy....

So....

There is no waiting!!!!!!

Jump in on the next book because what if the work you do on the current entry isn't anything they want you to do???? (I am the queen of doing that, by the way, so I know whereof I speak!!!)

Go, girl, start the next book!!!!! Don't make me come over there! :)

Missy Tippens said...

That's a good suggestion, Walt! I know in suspense I like to read the villain's pov. Especially if I don't know who it is.

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, it sounds as if you have my perfectionist tendencies. I never think a book is done.

But we're really anticipating your book! So we'll do the countdown with you and help keep you on track! :)

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, DebH. Ruthy has a good point! I spent 3 years re-working one of my early books. What a mistake!

Donna said...

Missy, I always find your posts very helpful. I'm printing this one! Nothing gets me stuck worse than having to add something to a scene that is already written.

The Guy Next Door sounds great! I love the cover! Please enter me.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Looking for the party! I heard there was a party!

Mary? Is it in Twitter? Your facebook page is quiet. You must be out eating cupcakes.

*breaks out the pom poms*

Missy Tippens said...

Donna, didn't they do a good job on the cover? If you read it, you'll recognize the scene. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Virginia, we should be CELEBRATING.....

We should be jumping up and down and firing off bottle rockets and drinking mimosas and sparkling grape juice and eating desserts from Financier in Manhattan!!!!!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

She's at "Financier" eating decadent desserts and thinking of having coffee with me and Dave there last year at this time... and we toasted her success!!!!! :)

After I made fun of her a little. Just a SMIDGE!!!!! :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hey, we can CHANT!!!!!

MARY! MARY! MARY! MARY!!!!!!

Lyndee H said...

Hi Missy! I'm late to the party. The pet words thing is big for me. It's like I hang onto a word as though it's the ONLY word in the world! I don't even realize it as I write it, but thankfully I see it when I read it, lol. That's why I write with the Thesaurus webpage open.

CatMom said...

Hey Missy! Sorry I'm super late joining in today (been visiting relatives *smile*) but wanted to say this is a VERY helpful post--thank you.

And I *cringed* when I read the "walk the dog" section---yikes, I am so guilty of doing that, and I MUST stop!

Please put my name in your drawing (but if I don't win a copy I'll purchase one for sure!).
Love that cover!!

Hugs, Patti Jo :)

Mary Curry said...

Oh my GOODNESS!!!!

I had no idea you were discussing me over here.

I actually had a meeting at church tonight. How's that for needing to concentrate on something other than yourself?

Thank you everyone for celebrating with me. I'm going back now to read.

Terri said...

Missy - loved your post. I used to always write short. Then last year I started writing long! I much prefer long to short.

My poor dog may need medical attention, he's been walked around the block so many times.

I'd love to win your book!

Tanya Agler said...

Dear Missy, I loved your suggestion about number of words divided by number of pages=number of words on each page. I have just started the editing stage on my latest WIP. Since I've had to rewrite scenes and layer them, I'm already up by 2000 words which astounds me as I'm almost done editing the second chapter. I might have to use your suggestion if I continue at this present rate.
Please enter me in the drawing for a print copy. Thanks.

Mary Preston said...

I think it would be harder to create more words rather than cut, but then again I don't write.

jubileewriter said...

Great post. One editor had me cut 20,000 words. Which meant most of my scenes with secondary characters had to go. It was interesting to see how well the story still worked without those scenes.
I'm passing on your tips.
Cindy Huff

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Great tips, Missy! Thanks for sharing!

Missy Tippens said...

I signed off early last night to watch TV with my daughter. And I missed the late party! Thanks to all who stopped by. I entered those who said they'd like to be entered in the giveaway.

Congrats, Mary Curry!!! I'm bouncing off the walls excited for you!!

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY SAID: "Julie and I have started an Overwriters Anonymous Club that we'll co-chair, no dues required as long as you talk too much!!!!!)"

LOL ... I don't know, girlfriend, our blogs may be the same length, but our books are not, so looks like LI has been a good influence on you! ;)

VINCE SAID: "Love the idea of having 50,000 more words for “A Love Surrendered”. At some point in the future you can add those words back in and publish a “Director’s Cut” like the movie producers do."

I actually am going to publish Charity & Mitch's substory from that book as my contribution to the Seeker Christmas novella since it was so brutally cut from ALS. :)

BTW: I think “Love at Any Cost” has the best black moments and conflict. Total credibility. Wonderful. Of course, this makes the real heroine the hero's sister!"

Aw, thanks, Vince -- always appreciate your encourgement, my friend. I actually plan on doing a novella or novel about Jamie's sister and guess who??? Remember Devin Caldwell??

Hugs,
Julie

Dee LeRoye said...

I'd love to meet the guy next door.

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

“I actually plan on doing a novella or novel about Jamie's sister and guess who??? Remember Devin Caldwell??”

Oh, No! There’s too much “Katie O’Connor-Cluny McGee” type chemistry (and foundation) between Megan McClare and Devin Caldwell to give him to Jess. I ‘see’ Jess with a cowboy. : )

CAVEAT: I'm not sure what you are doing in book II and III. Perhaps Megan is taken. I'd just love to see Jess, like TR, out on the range riding a horse. What a comeback! :)

Chris Bailey said...

Thanks so much for the tips! I (mostly) write short--first drafts that are only 75 percent of goal. However, I just finished a short story that's 200 words too long! This post arrived at the perfect time.