Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lengthening a Novel

A quick bunny trail to announce that the CAPE 2014 Homeschool Convention was a success! I'm praising God for His blessings. I sold out of books and my workshop on publishing had around 50 in attendance (full room!). Check out some photos over at my personal blog!

A Word Painter reader requested that I cover the topic of :

"How a writer can make a book longer and more detailed (say to make it novel length) without it being boring or drawn out?"

And I'm over here asking myself how to cover that!

Quite honestly, I've never had that problem. I'm always fighting for a shorter word count, not a longer one. This is the first idea I had:

But I don't think that will help our topic-requester. He might not drink coffee. (Hey, maybe that is why my word count is always too long! But I'm not about to give up coffee.)

Here are a few ideas:

  • Are your sentences choppy? I'm not suggesting you write paragraph-long sentences like George Alfred Henty, but some classical touches might lengthen your sentences a wee bit. Consider rewording things. 
  • Do you have descriptions? Again, please don't incorporate chapter-long descriptions into your book, but do make sure you are depicting things with all five senses. If your readers can't smell, taste, feel, see, and hear what is going on, you have some work to do. Not sure how to do that? Well, consider making your characters taste emotions. Let them feel someone's gaze. Let the weight of someone's words be tangible. Get creative!
  • Do you have an introduction, glossary, foot notes, or maps? Those can work beautifully for expanding your galley word count.
  • Can you lengthen a scene? Or add a new, extra-thrilling one that readers will be grateful to have?
  • Do you have inner monologue? (I hope so; you want your characters to think!)
  • What about letters? Have a character write a letter that applies to the story. I have actually done this to decrease word count; however, you can also do it to add. Just don't start adding grocery and to-do lists.
  • If all else fails, space between paragraphs. You won't get the longer word count, but you can increase your page count. Personally, I feel this is cheating, but do what you must.

What do you all think? Any ideas?

Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate, published author, and avid historian. She is a firm believer in the principle that one can accomplish anything by substantial amounts of prayer and coffee. Visit her at her blog or Facebook to view her historical-fiction novels and all the goings-on between writing!


  1. Haha! Good ideas...I think spacing between paragraphs is cheating to... ;-) writing longer sentences, adding scenes, adding descriptions and feelings, and the map idea, inner monologue...I love the ideas thanks for posting, Alicia!

    1. I've read some good books where the author spaced between paragraphs, but I don't personally prefer it. :) Glad this was helpful and thanks for commenting!


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