Welcome to the Big Reveal
I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
Do you tend to over-write or under-write?
I over-write. Every. Dang. Time. The most I’ve cut from a novel is 30k, which was a grueling process slash learning experience. I do try to be careful with my word choices, but even still, some words creep in that aren’t needed. Sometimes, though, over-writing is important to me. Sure, I may not use the info in the manuscript, but it helps me to understand my characters.
I usually write at the required word count—and I’m stretching to do that! Most of revision for me is completely rewriting scenes!
My very first draft is always around the 30-50k mark. This seems to be what I need to get the story out in its rawest form. I don’t aim for any number, this is just what I noticed. This first draft is usually starting at the wrong spot and has no climax. It will be missing vital research but it has everything I need to build a story. From there I grow my story by adding in and cutting, digging in to the lives of the characters and their motives, moving things around and researching. This will bring me up to around a 90-110k word count. Then I polish it and my final drafts are anywhere from 80-100k. My longest MS was 120k and I cut it to 100k. I’m still working on it and expect it to be around 80-90 when I get it where I want. I don’t usually worry about word count, a story takes what it takes, but if a romance is over 70k, I start asking myself if maybe this is two stories or if I overdid something? I usually did. If a fantasy is under 90k I start to wonder if I was too easy on the hero or if I missed setting? I usually did. Since I have written so many novels, I know what to expect from myself, but at the start, word count meant nothing to me and it confused me why people worried about it.
When I am writing a short story, I over-write by about 10,000 words then I come back in scale it back. When I am writing a full length novel, I generally underwrite. It is my CPs, agent, and editors who help me figure out which parts need to be more fleshed out.
Under-write. I always need to go back and more details or “fluff”.
Are you an over or under-writer?