The Little Details

As I make my way through my second edit between living my life, I’ve noticed something is missing.

The little details.

I’m missing the little details. I have people dressed but in what? I have people entering a room but it’s empty. I have people in a car that was never described and dancing to music that isn’t acknowledged.

This is a bad thing, but it’s expected. When I write my original draft, I tend to skip the little details in favor of writing the story. My fingers fly across the keyboard and because they can’t keep up with what I want to say, the little details are left out. This isn’t always the case but it does happen. There will be naysayers out there that say “if you can’t write it properly the first time you’re not a good writer.”  Boo to them. Naysayers will do anything to bring me down and I don’t care what they say.

This book is so much fun and it’s very fast-paced. It happens in under two weeks. Because of the pace and excitement level, I did skip a lot of little details.

I don’t see this as a problem, now I have the opportunity to go back and fix what’s missing with a calm mind.

For example:

Original:

I rushed to get dressed and ran down the stairs to the busy street. I skipped my morning coffee. I would get one from the franchise near the office.

I hurriedly walked the six blocks north and dodged people too busy to care that they were in my way.

This needs some work. Now you don’t know the character or why she’s rushing, that’s not important for this example. Because word count is of little concern this time around, I can embellish without worry.

Corrected:

There was no thought to the grey pencil skirt I slipped over my hips nor the powder blue blouse I fumbled to button. I tore a pair of stockings in my haste and cursed until I had my blue flats on my feet.

After nearly tripping down my apartment stairs out to the busy street, I elected to skip my usual morning coffee from the little shop across the street. I needed to get to the office six blocks north. The sunny morning was an exercise in dodging people too busy to care that they were in my way.

Now she’s wearing specific clothes because this story is fast paced I try to keep track of what each character is wearing by having a day summary for each day in the story.

When putting in details like skipping the coffee, it’s an opportunity to set the mood for later or a moment when she might go to get one elsewhere. When editing it is easy to put in small details that can have a big impact. They are foreshadow’s on a small scale.

Finding the missed details can be a challenge, I’ll often have others read my story and let me know when they can’t imagine what a character’s wearing or doing or where they are exactly.

My advice about little details.
Fit them in without listing them off, have the character interact with the object or space you’re describing. Whether you put them in from the start or later when you edit, don’t forget to mention what kind of coffee someone is sipping.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Other posts about details

Details, details, details

She’s a person not a cake

Dancing

Word Counts By Numbers

I often talk about word count. It’s a big deal for me because I’m wordy. My newest book, Prophecy, is not a wordy book! Yup, that’s right I managed to keep it within industry standard.
According to Wikipedia, these are the classifications are Novel, Novella, Novelette, and short story.

Classification Word count

Novel 40,000 words or over
Novella 17,500 to 39,999 words
Novelette 7,500 to 17,499 words
Short story under 7,500 words

I talk more in-depth about this in Stories Classified

These are the basic classifications of what a book is by word count. Novels are 40,000 +, so what does that mean? Well simply put each genre and subgenre have their own word count limits. This number varies greatly and seems to change the range values.
Professional editors and publishers told me that when in doubt, get it or keep it to mid or bottom of the range. (For the first novel)

Science fiction between 80,000 to 125,000
YA (Young adult) 45,000 to 80,000 (Midrange is best for this genre)
Horror 80,000 to 100,000
Historical fiction/romance 90,000 to 100,000
General Fiction/Literary Fiction/New adult 75,000 to 110,000 words max 70,000 is considered too short for a first-time author/published novel.
Science Fiction and Fantasy 100,000 words to 115,000 (Some say 125,000)
Mystery novels 40,000 to 80,000 words. This is a genre of disagreement on numbers; I’ve seen the recommendation for a thriller or mystery 90,000 to 100,000. I would keep it midrange or close to 80,000 to be safe.

Now I bet someone rushed to a shelf to pull a book or ten down to dispute the numbers. There are always exceptions to the rules (The lucky ones or not a first novel) or they are older books from older standards. Times are tough and the market is flooded with new authors looking to have their books published.

So what about… let’s say, Harry Potter? Some of those young adult books were well over the limit. Yes, they were but not the first one. In addition, JK struggled for years to get it published. Once she gained the footing in the industry and had a book under her belt, she could increase the word count without worrying about the limitations.

The limits are guidelines and they can be ignored. I learned from my own experience that it’s not wise to disregard time-tested advice and limits set by those who will actually be judging your work and deciding if it’s worth their time.

Now back to my new book. It is a TREAT to revise and edit a book without the gloomy cloud of ‘cut, cut and cut’ over my head. I’m not worried about trimming the fat (Hopefully, it’s not there).

It is currently at 73324 and I have room to fix and embellish some scenes without sweating the numbers. For the first time, I have to add words, which is super exciting for me. I still have to finish the filter word edit, but I’ll talk about that another time.

My advice about Word Count
While it’s important to keep your word count within the limits it’s more important to make every word count. After all, we want to keep the reader’s interest.

-Sheryl

Other Word Count related posts

The “word count” down.

Redundantly Redundant Redundancies

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 
Interest
 

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

I have recently become aware of a type of cliche writing. Over used scenarios and set ups in writing.

When describing a persons appearance no writer, including myself wants to be dull, boring or give a marathon list of aesthetic traits as one would find on a manifest. So we try to get clever and look for ways to make it more real or feel more plausible to the reader.

One that I know I’m guilty of is the use of a mirror to describe a character. Whether in first person or third, this is a tired over used way to do this. Mirror descriptions are tricky because the perspective can go wrong real fast. In and out of the characters head we go. I’ve done this I’ll admit it. I wont anymore and you can bet I’ll be going back to remove this tired method.

Here is what its like in first to use a mirror.

I spat out the toothpaste into the sink and looked up at my reflection in the mirror. My dark brown eyes were lined and tired. My two day old stubble needed a shave and my bed head was out of control making my black hair disheveled.

And a better way in first without the mirror.

I spat out the toothpaste and wiped a dribble from my itchy stubble covered chin. I ran my hands through my messy black hair before splashing cold water on my face. I rubbed my tired dark brown eyes; it was going to be a long day.

Here is a short example of what using a mirror is like in third person.

Scott spit out the toothpaste and raised his head to look at his reflection in the mirror. His dark brown eyes were lined and tired. His black hair was mussed from sleep and he needed to shave his two days worth of beard growth. 

Here is a better way to describe the same features in third without a mirror.

Scott spat out the toothpaste and wiped a dribble from his itchy stubble covered chin. After running his hands through his messy black hair he splashed water over his, face and rubbed his dark brown eyes.

No matter how I look at it, removing the mirror made for better describing. As long as I work the features in with actions it’s way better than listing them off. And a lot less lazy IMO. I look to find better ways to describe anything without resorting to the classic, ‘he had black hair, as stubble covered chin and tired dark brown eyes.’  I think we can all do better than that.  After all we are offering our readers an invitation to take part in the story not read a recipe.

My advice about mirrors as a descriptive tool.
Who’s the fairest of them all? Tell me without listing what you see please. A bad writing habit we can break without the 7 years bad luck.

-Sheryl

Other descriptive posts

Paint a desperate picture

Details, details, details

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Aesthetic
Invitation
Marathon