Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Word Count or Quality?

   
Author Topic: Word Count or Quality?
Sara Luikert
Member
Member # 10487

 - posted      Profile for Sara Luikert   Email Sara Luikert         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi, I'm Sara (an excited newbie) and I thought this would be a perfect arena to pose a question. It has been warring in my mind for some time now. What is better motivation; word count or quality? Now that might sound simple to answer, but really, think about it for a moment. Should we be pushing ourselves as writers, to produce as much as possible, and as some have promised, get better as we go? Or, should we instead create pure gold but take three days to write 1,000 words?
Anyway, that is my question of the day. What do you think?

Posts: 14 | Registered: Feb 2016  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
babooher
Member
Member # 8617

 - posted      Profile for babooher   Email babooher         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
For every person, I'd guess th3e answer is different, but I'd side on word count. My reason for this is that the quest to create pure gold might lead towards being unable to produce anything. I've read from several authors that you need to allow yourself to write crap. You can always refine and revise texts.
Posts: 816 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
First draft or revisions??
Because, remember, the point of the first draft is only to get the story down so you can fix it. Gold--or silver, as the case may be--comes later, in revisions.

Posts: 4375 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sara Luikert
Member
Member # 10487

 - posted      Profile for Sara Luikert   Email Sara Luikert         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
First draft. But isn't it better to have less re-writes? I mean, if you have to re-write nearly everything because its trash, aren't you saving yourself time and effort?
Posts: 14 | Registered: Feb 2016  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Honestly, I think which is better varies depending on the writer--sometimes, even, on the individual story.
Posts: 719 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'll echo everyone else. It depends on the writer and their goals for the particular story they're writing. For instance, all the stories I'm writing right now are written to stretch to 6000 words because I'm world building a novel, and this is my method of doing that. What stays and what will go in the novel I'll figure out later, and I guess that's when I'll go for the "pure gold" quality over quantity.

Though my novel has to be a minimum of 80,000 words at the least, I believe, as required by most publishers. The market you're writing for is also a factor.

quote:
Or, should we instead create pure gold but take three days to write 1,000 words?
On the other hand, I think this perspective should be avoided. Becoming a better writer requires a lot of practice, and torturing yourself over a 1000 words probably that you think are perfect (but can very well be ripped apart in workshop) doesn't seem very smart to me.

Just write as often and continuously as possible, and don't worry about perfection, or pure gold, for now.

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Sara Luikert:
First draft. But isn't it better to have less re-writes? I mean, if you have to re-write nearly everything because its trash, aren't you saving yourself time and effort?

As many others have said, this depends a lot on the writer and even on the particular story. If you're very new to writing, you may not yet know what works best for you, so you'll have to try a few methods until you do. Even then, sometimes a story--or a situation--requires a different approach.

I can definitely say this, though. If what you're writing is a novel, continuously agonizing over that first 1,000 words--or 10,000--will never get you to the end of the story. (Been there, done that, long ago.)

And some revision is unavoidable by even the best and most experienced author.

Posts: 4375 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Sara Luikert:
First draft. But isn't it better to have less re-writes? I mean, if you have to re-write nearly everything because its trash, aren't you saving yourself time and effort?

Writing tends to require a different skill-set than rewriting, and some are better at one than they are at the other. So doing as much as you can of either increases the possibilities of your improving each skill-set.

Besides that, no writing is wasted. The time and effort that goes into writing as well as what goes into rewriting is more likely to help you get better than not.

If you haven't seen the Ralph Macchio version of KARATE KID, I strongly recommend it. "Wax on, wax off!" helps teach muscles to move in ways that need to be automatic. So it is with writing and re-writing muscles.

Posts: 8520 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A great quote from Shannon Hale just crossed my FB feed:
quote:
I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm just shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.

Posts: 4375 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sara Luikert
Member
Member # 10487

 - posted      Profile for Sara Luikert   Email Sara Luikert         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thank you everyone for your feedback, I think I'll go with your general pearls of wisdom "write as much as possible".
Posts: 14 | Registered: Feb 2016  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
On a side issue---I try to write five hundred words per each sit-down-and-write, at least when I'm writing. At times it's been more, but right now it's that. Part of it is to keep me on a schedule...part of it is to get me interested enough in what I'm writing to keep coming back and taking it up again.

(Picked the idea up from Frederik Pohl's memoirs---he did four pages a day. But that lost its applicability in this word processing era. Five hundred words is about a page and a half, actually.)

Posts: 8714 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Another alternative is approach writing from an entirely different direction, re from reading and studying what appeals to readers, appeals to one's self most of all.

How much reading equates to a quantity and quality writing outcome depends upon how closely one reads.

I read on average the equivalent of two hundred standard novels a year and write the equivalent of two, mostly drafts, sketches, notes, dress rehearsals, and focus group tests. Of the books and short texts I read, half as many are narrative theory and language arts and sciences texts as prose.

So a rough reading to writing ratio of one hundred words read per one word written. The most significant benefit therefrom is the more mechanical aspects, content and structure, and an occasional aesthetic appeal gem. The nature of satire for prose most appeals to me and is the prey of my current reading and method studies. One or two potent epiphanies have occurred, more to come.

Writing is reading; one is provided, the other provides.

Posts: 5094 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LDWriter2
Member
Member # 9148

 - posted      Profile for LDWriter2   Email LDWriter2         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hmm late to this party(again)

But I think everything has been said that I would have said. Pretty much.

basically it depends on the writer. Some, like me, do some revising as I write, some have different types of revising. They work on characters in one round, scenery or setting in another etc.

A couple of pros teach that more than a couple of revisions is bad for most writers. They lose their voice while trying to get just the right phrasing which as a beginner you don't know anyway. and its easy to just keep revising and never quit.

Some pros do five plus revisions-most of those seem to be romance writers, if that means anything.

Posts: 5225 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Grumpy old guy
Member
Member # 9922

 - posted      Profile for Grumpy old guy   Email Grumpy old guy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
For me, it depends on your own writing style. I have gone from absolute pantser to focused planner. In the former incarnation I just sat and wrote whatever came into my head and could churn out 80,000 words in a week--then I'd spend months bashing the whole mess into some sort of shape. Damn frustrating and time wasting.

Now I plan. When I finally sit down to write I know exactly where I'm going and how I'll get there and the only decisions I have to make are what are the best words and phrases to use to describe that journey.

Phil.

Posts: 1605 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
walexander
Member
Member # 9151

 - posted      Profile for walexander   Email walexander         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It doesn't matter the word count to me. It's the substance of that word count that matter's. If the story is longer than a thousand word limit what are you going to do. Cut it to fit? That's a slippery slope.

Also, bare in mind, that a lot of people get a say as to what is gold along a stories journey, and you will soon learn quickly that the people with this say are only human. So just like the differences in writers, so is the differences in readers.

But here are a couple things that might help besides constant writing exercises.

Time -- Unless you are under deadline. Let good ideas simmer. Time is a writer's best friend. Given time, Good idea's I feel often become great ideas, but they need time to develop. Just like writing skill.

Carry a notepad or recording device. Make sure when the muse strikes you get it down if even in shorthand because that great line/sentence just as fast jumps out of your head.

Become a studier/researcher of everything. Life, love, death, injustice . . . everything.

Your writing will take to world's beyond imagination but usually, at its heart is a set of core fundamentals that are essential for you to understand. Don't be afraid to ask people questions you don't have experience about. It's a key writing tool. Heck, I'm a guy, do you know how many woman I constantly ask how they would handle a given situation. Some of their answers still baffle me to this day.

Find your stress relief. Figure out what helps you relax and let go when you're locked.

Lastly, at the same time you become a great writer, become a good marketer and financial handler, unless you have someone who handles this for you. Especially if you decide to self-publish. Know the book industry inside and out, at least enough to hold your own if you ever get a contract. Understand social media, it's only going to keep growing.

These things to me help you answer your own question.

Just some thoughts,

W.

Posts: 482 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If I may, I'd like to add emphasis to the above recommendation to ask questions.

I remember hearing Connie Willis speak at a convention, and the thing I remember most is that she urged aspiring writers to ask questions of any and every one.

She said that if people tell her it's none of her business, she answers with, "I'm a writer! Of course it's my business!"

Posts: 8520 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
walexander
Member
Member # 9151

 - posted      Profile for walexander   Email walexander         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
@kdw

To funny. I like that.

W.

Posts: 482 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2