Progress So Far

  • Romance writer - Historical. Contemporary and Intrigue
  • 2 books written for HarperImpulse

Friday, 8 January 2010

The WIP is finished but.........

but.....I'm 13k words short!!!

OMG I kid you not. As I write HM&B Historicals (or try to!) the word count needs to be 70 - 75k. I've just typed "The End" at 54,879.

I know, I know. SERIOUS problem. There are some bit'n'pieces where I can fill in - such as an epilogue - but seriously I still need to find at least another 12k. (I'm breaking off here to have a major panic attack. Pass me a paper bag someone please.)

Right. Calm. Deep breaths. I need to solve this problem. So... here's what I'm going to do:

1. Read ms again. Fill in major gaps. Layer like it's never been layered before.
2. Add extra scenes where I can. Perhaps another love scene - although I don't want to just do a "filler" exercise! This is dangerous and potentially not good.
3. Read Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Romance Writing - again - for some much needed tips!
4. Ask you lovely, lovely, lovely people in blog land what to do. Has this ever happened to you? Any wise words of wisdom to share? Pleeeeese share any tips you may have. I will be extremely grateful trust me.

Going now to have another panic attack........

Caroline x


  1. Hi Caroline. First breathe. Don't panic. You'll get it sorted. You've done it before, remember? I don't really have any tips, 54k sounds loads to me. Is there any more blocks to romance that could be added? I don't know what your book is about but looking at the sidebar, could there be a skirmish? a battle that he has trouble coming back from? I'm really winging it here...
    Tell us some more about the story and I'm sure you'll get some great advice.

  2. Hi Sally. Thanks for the warm wise words! My wip is a Roman - "The Roman's Revenge". Have been going through it - I can see some areas where I can add scenes etc. So I'm going to do this 1st and see where that leaves me. But thank's for stopping by. Much appreciated. Caroline x

  3. No need to panic. It's perfectly easy to make up the shortfall -- though, humbly, it shouldn't get to the stage where you finish the book so far short. You ought to have spotted the shortfall a long way off. But that's life. You'll know better next time, hopefully, and plan your word count more closely!

    Okay. Simplest methods first. An epilogue/prologue may sound like the best way right now, but with a minimum of 15k to make up, that's not going to do it all. And sticking something on the beginning or end may unbalance the book if it wasn't planned for.

    Your best bet, IMHO, is to introduce a new 'episode' between hero and heroine somewhere in the middle third of your ms. It should underline your main premise and develop character and relationship, not just be a casual add-on.

    If your chapters are about 5000 apiece, a two to three chapter-long episode will do the trick. If they're shorter, or you only write a 2 chapter episode, you can go on to the epilogue/prologue idea afterwards to make up the shortfall.

    Another way is to introduce a sub-plot that complements the main plot or premise - say, by developing a secondary character or sub-plot you already have on hand - and to add discrete episodes at intervals throughout the book, adjusting the ends and beginnings of chapters accordingly.

    But that's the most fiendishly complicated way of rewriting a book, and even an experienced writer would hesitate before disembowelling their ms like that just to increase word count.

    Remember KISS. Keep it Simple Stupid. If it was me, I'd invent a new episode that will tie up your Hh for a good three chapters somewhere either side of the end of the second act. If you work to the three act structure, that is.

    At some point, an editor may ask you to disembowel a ms by adding or massively developing a sub-plot, of course, and you will then have to deal with that disruption. But until you absolutely HAVE to wreck your structure, I would advise against it. All sorts of bad stuff can happen then, especially at an early draft stage, and writers become lost in their own rewrites and forget why they were writing in the first place.

    Oh, and remember that adding that episode will change your structural highpoints. So you will need to check how that changes the balance of the novel overall.

    Good luck. Jx

  4. I really can't add anything to the advice that Sally and Jane have offered. But cheering you on from the sidelines - you will get there.


  5. Absolutely. And I'd really love to get a peek at it sometime. I'm curious about Roman historical romances, if only because they're so rarely done. I know Michelle Styles has one coming out - now? - but you don't often see Romans on the shelf, lol.

  6. Hi Caroline,
    The only advise I have is read it again. :) Usually scenery description is missing, or something needs to have more emphasis. Other than that, without reading it, I haven't any advice. All the best with it,


  7. Jane: Thanks ever so much for your wise words and advice Very informative and timely. I did go through it last night and there *is* a scene that I can add about 1/3rd of the way through. It will (I hope) rack up the tension between the H/h. That and a lot of layering - it is very much bare bones at the moment.

    But thanks very much - I've printed off what you have said and pasted it above my pc!

    You are right about Romans. Michelle Styles was the first HM&B author to crack Romans (I think). It was her books that got me hooked and made me attempt to write one. I'm on my 3rd now - but apparently they are a hard sell! But I love this period of history so much that I can't stop myself from writing them. Ah well one day they might come back into fashion you never know. Have a good weekend. Caroline x

    Suzanne J: Thanks for your cheers of support. Much appreciated. Caroline x

    Suzanne B: Thanks for stopping by and the advice. I did go through it last night and have identifies major areas that need layering so I will be putting in a lot more description and scenery etc. Thanks again - Caroline x

  8. No probs. By the way, I love your links list. I often come to you so I can bounce off into the romantisphere ... you have much better links than I have, more comprehensive etc.

    Maybe when I get time I'll steal some for my own blog!

  9. Ahhh thanks Jane! I've had to scale down my blog list - way too much blogging going on. So I think the links I have are some of the best (IMHO). That's not to say there are others - and I often dip into Suzannes (Jones) blog list as she has some good ones as well. Take care. Caroline x p.s thanks again for your advice.

  10. I've scanned the answers you've already had. I would think a little sub-plot would be the best bet to up your word count. That might not be possible with your story, but hopefully it is and you can get that count moving. If not, is there any way you can cut it down and make it a ... oh gosh, now cannot remember the word ... not a spice brief but a brief historical ... whatever they're called.

    Do let us know how you resolve your dilemma, I'm hopeless at hitting word count, so could do with some tips myself.

  11. Hi Joanne - lovely to see you! Thanks for the tip. I think I can do a small sub plot. I've got them back together so some major tension between H/h. I'll let you know how I get on with this. Phew! Who ever said wiriting was easy eh? Caroline x