27 October 2010

NaNoWriMo Prep: How to pad your word count

As you're preparing for the wild and crazy adventure that is NaNoWriMo, you may be thinking about that end-of-the-month number: 50,000 words. Even when you break it down (a little under 2,000 words a day), it can seem daunting. But have no fear. There are things you can do to help pad your word count.

Description, description, description

When I write fiction, I generally try to keep things simple. Even when I describe something, I try to let the reader's mind fill in as much as possible. And then, when I edit, I often find myself slashing descriptions out of the story.

Well, NaNoWriMo is different. This is the opportunity for you to elaborate on every possible thing that can be described in your story.

Don't tell the reader your main character is using a black pen. Tell the reader your main character is using a new black Sharpie pen because she loves felt tip markers and these last so much longer than traditional felt tip markers. Besides, they look so cool when the ink swirls out on the page. When you describe a room, make it as vivid as you possibly can. Don't worry about it reading as purple prose. (This is just the first draft, after all.)

The more description you have, the higher your word count.

Do not use contractions

This is something I've done for a couple of years in NaNoWriMo. It does take a little getting used to as you write, but it can really add words! Think about it: every time you would normally write "it's," you'd get one extra word. This is really great in stories with lots of dialogue, too.

Don't hyphenate

This doesn't come up terribly often (except in combination with the next tip), but can help. So write full time instead of full-time, e mail instead of e-mail, and well rounded instead of well-rounded. Again, every time you do this, you get an extra word.

Write out numbers

Always. 53 is one word, but fifty three is two. Six hundred fifty three is three words (and if you say "six hundred and fifty three, you get four!).

Use "that"

This is something some writers do naturally. They include "that" when it's not needed. They may have, for example, written the first sentence of this section like this: This is something that some writers do naturally.

It's taken me some time to keep "that" out when it's not needed, but when November rolls around, it's a word that gets a work-out! I use it frequently to boost my word count.

These are just a few of the things you can do to help pad your word count. Sure, you'll have to go back through and fix them if you decide to edit, but for now, they can help you get to that magic number by November 30th.

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