Overwriter

April 21, 2017

Okay, you're probably wondering what that title means.  So I'll explain it.  An underwriter is a type of writer that writes everything out in a story, beginning to end, but finds that their work does not reach novel length.  This means they have to go back and add details, tweak scenes to make them longer, and figure out how to add more words to story that may not have actually needed it.  On the opposite spectrum, an overwriter is someone whose manuscripts are typically hundreds of pages of extraneous details that go way over what is considered the average length for a novel.  Thus, come editing, entire chapters will have to be cut.

 

I am an overwriter.

 

If you didn't know, the classifications of written work are as follows:
 

 

I'm not going to lie, I just Googled those.  You know why?  Because most of my 'short stories' actually fall into the range of a novelette (which I didn't even think was a real thing until right now).  Of course, I'm also a bit surprised that I have some tales that do end in that end in the Short Story range.

 

Xzaryth comes in at 6,214 words.  I knew The Crusher of Kings would sit in that category at only 2,564 words.  Yet, I'd always thought of Jewel of the Desert as a short story, too, though a recent check of the word count revealed that it sits solidly in the Novelette range at 15,933 words.  True Rider is at 7,042 while Claimed enters the Novella range at 18,001 words.

 

The point of telling you all of that?

 

They're all short stories to me.

 

Many publishers consider a manuscript a novel at 50,000 words.  Many publishers consider everything over 80,000 to be a bit long.  I have never written a novel beneath 60,000 words, and I frequently bypass 100,000 in my work.

 

One of the works I thought wasn't fleshed out enough but I knew was getting too long was my novel XXY.  It comes in at a roaring 141,974 words.  Not counting the scenes I wanted to add but couldn't.

 

I've attempted to moderate my ramblings since then.  I have one project that touches over 175,000 words, but it is meant to be broken into four pieces.  Another project I have, I set the goal at 80,000; when it's finished, it shouldn't be above 90,000.  So it's something I'm working on.

 

Again: what is the point of this post?

 

I guess the point would be to tell you that all writers have to work on their own vices.  Some need to learn how to show more detail and maybe build tension.  Others, like me, have to learn that they don't have to write down every innocuous scene that fits into the story, or else they have to cut it in favor of advancing the plot.

 

Case in point, on one of my current WIPs (Work In Progress) I had written a scene that was pertinent to the characters, but not to the story.  Therefore, when it came time for me to add it into the story, I chose against it and instead put it on my FB page as a #ManuscriptMonday post instead.  So it's an example of learning what to go ahead with, and what doesn't aid the plot any.

 

That being said, this current WIP will still need a lot of cuts, considering we're over 42,000 words in and haven't even gotten to the real conflict yet.  By the time the first draft is finished, it will undoubtedly be over 100,000 words.

 

Which brings me to my other point: Don't sweat the word count.

 

If you're on your first draft, the last thing you should be worried about is the duration.  Page number and word counts don't mean a thing until you get the whole story down.  That's all there is to it.  The story has to come above all else.  Every preconceived notion you have about what's right and necessary, and especially above the expectations of everyone outside of the story.

 

As my friends like to keep reminding me:

Write the story; everything can be fixed in editing.

 

Whether you overwrite or underwrite, the point is that you're writing at all.  That's what you should be doing.  And when that first draft is done, you learn how to edit.  It's a process, I won't lie, but it is rewarding and educational and challenging.  Everything we ever hoped it would be.

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