Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Where do the Words Come From?

I read all the time how people have trouble writing an entire novel without editing as they go. I have that problem, also.

But I started out as a children's picture book writer and my biggest problem is writing enough words to meet the word requirements of MG and YA.

I am now editing a manuscript, which I have been told because of the ages of the main characters, it should be considered YA and not MG. Well for it to be YA I need to have close to 40,000 words. I don't have nearly that many words, but I really love my story. I am currently editing it to add words. My first step in doing this was taking each chapter one by one and writing down the amount of words I had in each chapter. I'm working on the shorter chapters and trying to add more detail to them. I'm accomplishing this, but still am far from the required amount of words needed. At this point and time if I could get 30,000 words, I would be happy. I would be ecstatic!

What suggestions do you have in finding more to write about?

I'm adding more detail to what I already have and that is helping, but what are some ideas on finding more chapter ideas? My story takes place in the early 1900s in rural WV. I have a lot of detail and description in my story letting the reader know what life was like 100 years ago. The story is based very loosely on my grandparents life and I've taken tidbits of info I knew about them and weaved a story around those details. All fiction, of course.

I don't know, maybe I'm not cut out to be a novel writer, maybe I'm always going to be stuck in the picture book genre. But what's funny is that when I write picture books I have to go back and cut out what is not needed, not add more. With picture books, the fewer words the better. They want you to take out that description and take out those extra characters which add so much to the longer stories.

I hear there is a genre now called Tween. Does anyone know the criteria for that category?

Any suggestions on how to add more story, more details and more words to those MG and YA manuscripts?

Help, please!


  1. Hmmm, I'm afraid I don't know a whole lot about YA, but I may be able to help add some stuff. This is what I did to my ms: I went through all the scenes and anyplace I said "such and such" happened, I showed it instead of just told it. Bam! 5,000 words added. Give it shot!

    I've got a guest blogger today on my blog. Check it out if you have chance. Thanks!


  2. I don't know whether "tween" and "upper middle grade" are used interchangeably, but I think the age range is pretty much the same. Ten ... to ... fourteenish? Don't quote me on that. My own novel is considered upper middle grade.

    Good luck!

  3. I think it's amazing that you wrote 30,000 words! I love historical fiction. I would love to read your story when it's finished.
    Good luck!

  4. Janet,
    This sounds like a very good story. I look forward to reading the book when it's published. I don't know how to expand the number of words. That's always a problem for me to edit, but I know you will be able to do it well.

  5. Make sure your have enough description for scene. I was told by an agent that setting should be like another character. when I added more description, it significantly added to my word count.

  6. Janet, take each character and write another draft in their point of view. It's very time consuming but it was extremely helpful for me in my MG novel. Let me know what happens!

  7. Hey Janet (o; I've got a surprise waiting for you at my blog. (((o;

  8. Have you tried giving each of the characters some new element to their personality. A quirk that might add some words. Developing them more and giving them deeper relationships can help.
    What do I know? I'm just blabbering.
    I struggle the same as you.
    I've finished only one novel at 80,000 words. And I can cut too as I love short stories.

    Best of luck with what sounds like a good story. Blessings.

  9. I write picture books too, so it was a struggle for me to write my first MG. It's on the short side too. My second one got to 30,900 words.

    What I've done with both MGs is decide on an estimated word count before I start. Then I outline it into chapters and divide the numbers to give me a possible word count for each. This might not be the best way to write, but it's what I've done for both of them.

    Good luck!

  10. Upper mid-grade and tween are basically the same, although "tween" isn't really considered fitting for boy books. It's about ages 10-14. Topics are typically of concern to middle-schoolers.


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