Doctor Bloato's Guide to Beating Word Count Blues--Reb MacRath


It's a terrible thing to be skinny these days, at least if you're writing thin books. Bloated or musclebound books are the rage when the minimum word count required by publishers and gatekeepers is 70-80K. Never mind that many published novels would have been far better if cut in half. On the beach of the publishing business today, you need to bulk up to keep bullies from kicking sand in your face.

Have no fear. Doc Bloato's here with eight great tricks to save the day. Set aside your shame and play the same game played by many others.

1) Add unnecessary speaker tags--he said/she said--to every line of dialog, as done by the late Robert B Parker in his last ten years. This will also increase your page count exponentially. 

2 Calculate the number of words you'll need to meet the minimum word count. Then force-fed them shamelessly, page by page by page. For example, if you're 10,000 words shy, at 250  words per page, you can add 40 words to each. Add an extra line of dialog, a physical description, whatever. This is more easily done than you'd think.

3) Devote a full paragraph to every character or setting description. What do the characters eat and drink? Are they Vegans, carnivores, omnivores, or junkaholics? What color are their socks? Are their teeth in good repair? Did they get good grades in school? What are their favorite TV shows? Do they wear clean underwear?

4) Put all the research you cut back in, adding still more if you can. Go James Michener on us, giving us town histories that date back thousands of years. The more arcane, the better!

5) Tell, tell, tell, tell! By God, let your characters go on for hundreds of words about their thoughts and emotions at least in every chapter if not in every scene.

6) Make sure you never meet a backstory that you don't love. And if you've got a good one, come back to it repeatedly, gaining scores of  more words every time that you do.

7) Likewise, be promiscuous in your flings with irrelevant subplots. Never hesitate to describe in painstaking detail characters we won't meet again.

8) Never miss the chance to add a metaphor or simile to a sentence that's perfectly fine as it is.

With these eight proven tacks you'll learn that it's easier and faster to write a long book than a short one. So have at it and enjoy your novel's belly jellying over the top of your shorts.

This is my report.


Welcome to MacRathWorld, if you like premium blends of mystery, action, and suspense. From Caesar's Rome to Seattle today, the twists fly at the speed of night. If you're unfamiliar with my work, I recommend starting with the new Seattle BOP mysteries. Here's the link to my AuthorPage on Amazon for a detailed look at the variety of 'rides' in my amusement park.


Umberto Tosi said…
You said a mouthful, Reb!
Reb MacRath said…
Thanks, Umberto!

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