And now what?

Raising my hand at this month’s theme. Oh yes. I’ve made many mistakes along the way in my writing journey. Like the time I pitched an agent when I only had three chapters completed. Which is a good example of how mistakes can be learning opportunities because I will never do that again. 😉

But today, I want to focus on an issue that is ongoing. I don’t know if this is a mistake so much as an unhelpful tendency, but the early drafts of my mysteries tend to hover around 50K. In fact, with my first one, no matter how much I wrote, I was stuck on 50K for several years! And here’s the thing: they weren’t even the same 50K words…I would add thousands and thousands of words, rejoicing as my word count rose, then I’d revise out some of the old stuff (I am a ruthless reviser, which is part of the issue, I know), and it would end up too short again.

While I understand that this is my process, it’s painful and deflating. I get to a place of utter confusion, where I don’t know what to do to make it any longer, and I go about wailing and gnashing my teeth and doubting that I’ll ever be able to write anything ever again.

Believe me, I’ve explored all sorts of developmental possibilities, like subplots, expanded descriptions, new characters, new conflicts, etc. Those do lead to progress…then I revise something else out…well, you get the picture. Sigh.

Anyone else have this issue? What do you do? Or what do you struggle with in drafts?

9 thoughts on “And now what?”

  1. I tend to write short, also, though my first drafts are a little longer than yours. 60k! Don’t really know what to do about it other than to “believe in the process” and continue revising.


  2. I’ve got the opposite problem. At one point,the word count on the novel that is out on submission was 107k. I agree with Sybil – trust the process. You’ll get there.


  3. Personally, I like shorter lengths. I like tight plots and well-crafted words, rather than excessive words that simply bulk up the story. I lean towards 50-60k, but to do that, I have to overwrite almost twice as much before I know which words are the right words for my story.


  4. I feel like every other WIP is a struggle for me in first draft. I have no idea why. I’m always too long. ALWAYS. Cynthia, I’m completely confident that you’ll pull through the pain and it’ll be a beautiful outcome!


  5. I struggle with this too, Cynthia! One thing I’ve been focusing on lately is giving really emotional/pivotal scenes more space to breathe, and then taking the time to show my MC’s reaction to what’s just happened (while maintaining tension, conflict, etc.). This sounds so obvious, but I swear it’s helping (at least a bit) with my word count! Lol!


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