10 Ways To Help Writers Reach Their Word Counts

10 Ways To Help Writers Reach Their Word Counts


[It’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Well done if you’re participating. You are also probably exhausted, over-caffeinated, and sick of it. But chances are, if you are this far, you are going to make it. Just keep going.]

Reaching a word count is obviously a numbers game. You spend time watching the word counter at the bottom of your screen, right? Be careful though, the numbers are deceptive. This is a good time to take stock. 

Five Tips For Under-Writers

Are you nearing the end of your story, but you still have a week’s worth of writing left? Do you feel like you are running out of story? It might be a good idea to steamroll through your first draft, even if you are few words short and then go back.

Once the story is done, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have I added setting detail?
  2. Have I described my characters?
  3. Which scenes can I dramatise?
  4. What are my subplots and have I explored them enough?
  5. Write a list of the scenes you have. Decide which ones need additional time.

Five Tips For Over-Writers

Are you racing through your story, inching closer to your goal, only to realise that very little is happening in your story? Do you have a huge cast, plenty of setting and description, and too many internal monologues? NaNo is an exercise in quantity, but there is no reason why you can’t have a good dose of quality as well. Work as fast as you can to hit 50 000, then re-evaluate.

  1. Write a synopsis. This will help you to focus on the story as a whole. Keep it under 500 words. Use this template: How To Write A One-Page Synopsis
  2. Identify your protagonist, your antagonist and your story goal.
  3. List your characters. Do they each have a purpose?
  4. List your settings. Sometimes we have too many settings. Can you reduce the number of settings (and also your descriptions) to ensure that you focus on the story and not the numbers? But remember the goal is obviously to hit 50 000 asap.
  5. Delete modifiers, qualifiers, most adverbs of manner and unnecessary adjectives.

Good luck. You are almost there.

If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course or join our course in Johannesburg.

 by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

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This article has 2 comments

  1. Donatella Bono

    thanks for your tips, I always enjoy reading your suggestions, I am doing Nanowriting and so far I am even on track, although riddled with doubts….

  2. Mia

    Thanks Donnatella! That is awesome. Keep going and good luck for the last bit.

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