Need to find ways to up that word count to 50K? Here are some tips, courtesy of your co-MLs. Got your own tips? Leave a comment to share!
1. Give your characters more than one name.
If your protagonist goes by Billy Jean, that’s two words for the price of one every time you need to say the name!
2. Don’t just say, “he said” or “she said.” Add an action!
For example: “I’m going to need more than this if I’m to reach 50,000 words by Nov. 30,” she said, chewing on her lip nervously as she twirled a ball pen with the fingers of her left hand.
3. Take time to admire the scenery. Details, details, details!
These can always be edited out later, but you never know when a super graphic image of what’s going on around the character will be a blessing.
4. Use metaphors!
“Her eyes were blue” is just 4 words, but “Her eyes reminded him of home, the azure of the water just off the coast of Palawan” is 17!
5. Skip the contractions!
“I do not think I will be needing help” is two words longer than “I don’t think I’ll be needing help.” Desperate? Use the “Find” function to identify all instances of “don’t,” “wouldn’t,” “couldn’t,” “I’ve,” “I’d,” and so on and so forth, and use the “Replace” function to change these to all two-word versions (do not, would not, could not, I have, I had, etc.).
6. Give your settings longer names!
Don’t buy coffee from Starbucks, buy it from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf!
7. Don’t have a name for your character yet? Go all Voldemort on the guy!
Call him “The Love Interest Who Has Not Been Named Yet”!
8. Give your chapters titles!
Don’t just go “I”–go “Chapter 1: The Day My Dad Realized I Was a Girl After All”
9. Quote, quote, quote!
Have characters break out into song, or read passages from books. Add an epigraph to the beginning and/or end of each chapter. Have a character annoyingly quote at people. Put in obscure references to your fandoms that only other fans would recognize and appreciate! Invent quotes from imaginary books! Dean Koontz invented epigraphs for a book that doesn’t exist, The Book of Counted Sorrows, which, by the way, is an awesome name.
10. Say things in a different language, then translate into English!
Example: “Hindi ko alam,” Pedro said. He didn’t know.
Too annoying for you? Introduce a character who’s a translator!
11. Name brands, titles, etc.
Not only does this help add to your word count, but it also helps you gain an insight into your character’s interests. Don’t say, “Ria sat in a corner reading a book.” Say “Ria sat in a corner reading Neil Gaiman’s The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.”
12. Use euphemisms well!
Don’t just say, “Abner died.” Say “Abner kicked the bucket.”
13. When describing something, describe fully: what color, what size, what texture?
Don’t just say “I gave her a pen for her birthday.” Instead, say “I gave her a Parker fountain pen with her name engraved in gold on one side for her birthday.”
Combine with tip on metaphors.
14. For fantasy writers, don’t just say that magic was done. Explain the magic.
Don’t just say “She moved the phone through telekinesis.” Say “She made the phone move with the power of her mind, and though this power was not always consistent, she found that if she concentrated hard enough and pictured a string or beam connecting her to the object, she could make it move to wherever she wanted it to go.”
15. Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue!
This also helps you with characterization. Don’t say, “They said their goodbyes then walked off in different directions.” Say, “John said, ‘I’m afraid this is it, darlin’. We’re to go our separate ways, you to the east and me to the west.’ Holding back tears, Crystal said, ‘When will we see each other again?’ John lit a cigarette, took a drag, then said, ‘Probably never. Goodbye now.’ And with that, he stalked out of the bar and headed off into the sunset. Crystal took a moment to dab at her eyes, then followed him out, but went in the opposite direction.”
16. Correct your spelling!
Do a Find & Replace on all instances of “alright” in your novel. Change to “all right.” This is not only proper spelling and grammar; it may even add a couple hundred words to your count! “Everyday” is only spelled as one word when it’s used as an adjective (e.g., “everyday items”); otherwise, it’s spelled as two (e.g., “I go to work every day”).
17. Write overviews of your next several scenes!
Especially if you know what’s got to happen, but not how. For example: “Iza confesses her love to Raymond. He cruelly rejects her. She runs to Troy, who offers his support and tries to make a move, but she doesn’t even notice.” This also helps you beat the so-called Writer’s Block–just write around the sparse outline you’ve just made. Ask the questions: How does Iza confess her love to Raymond? What does she say? When does she pick her moment to do it?
18. Use zombies, unicorns, puppies, kittens, etc.
Brighten up your novel with a random creature of cuteness or awesomeness! Is your character stuck mulling about a problem in her love life? Have someone leave a basket of corgi puppies on her doorstep mysteriously and write out how she tries to deal with this, punctuated by much baby talk. “Goo goo ga ga cutie pie doggie woggie” still adds to your word count. Have your politicians squabbling over minor matters? Throw in a zombie invasion or a bunch of body-snatching aliens!
19. Kill someone tragically.
You can get a lot of mileage out of death, especially sudden, unjust, or meaningless death. Have someone die of an aneurysm in the middle of a conversation or get shot down in the middle of a street. Have a human take a bullet for her sparkly vampire lover who wouldn’t have died from a bullet wound anyway. Then write up long involved speeches and milk the hell out of your surviving characters’ grief/rage/etc.!!
20. Write in flashbacks and dream sequences.
Did your character just remember something from the past? Well, write about it! Don’t skip the detail! Did he or she have a bad dream? Write it down — we want to know everything.
21. Create hearing impaired characters.
You can always put a character who went to a concert last night (where you wrote down the lyrics of the songs they were singing) and make them talk to another character…and since he’s pretty deaf from the concert last night, your other character would have to repeat everything he/she has to say! Also, people with that amnesia you find in 50 First Dates would give you lots of words cause you’d have to have someone keep retelling the goings-on.
22. Have your characters get into fights or arguments!
Especially ones that go, “Did not!” “Did too!” “Did not!” “Did too!!!” Repeat as many times as you like.
23. Indulge in your characters’ fandoms and other passions.
Is your character a collector of action figures? Perhaps she’s a raving fanatic of a particular band. Have her wax eloquent on the merits of whatever she’s passionate about. Describe her collection of toys, her poster-covered walls, and more!
24. Explain niche items in layman’s terms.
When you describe your character pulling out a Walther PPK, don’t just assume that your reader knows what that is. Explain! Tell them that the Walther PPK is a semi-automatic pistol famously used by James Bond.
25. Get the kahoot off the forums–or the website or Facebook or Twitter–until you hit your word count quota and then some!
Come back when you’ve passed the number of words you should have had by today. Better yet, come back when you’re ready to verify! And use all the tools technology has put at your disposal. Try Write or Die.