How much content is enough in a book, whether nonfiction or a novel? When have you written enough in your blog post? How do you know when to put down the pen?
I’ve written five novels, the first of which (unpublished) began as a short story that I kept adding more and more depth and information to. More subplots. More characters.
Now I’m in the process of editing my first nonfiction book, Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction. It’s a writer’s handbook based on the blog (as you know if you’re a regular visitor). The problem is, maybe “editing” isn’t the right word.
GOOD NEWS: I’ve broken through the writing slump I wrote about earlier this week, and broken through it in a real way after taking an afternoon and a couple of nights to myself. (Who can’t relate to a slump and a burn out on writing like this one?)
I watched a lot of Cheers and Dr. Who. I took it easy, didn’t let myself stress, and lost myself in a new Facebook game with fun murder mystery plots called “Criminal Case.” Now ideas for the blog are coming. Possibilities to fix a problem first draft of a novel I’m sitting on are churning (SO stoked about that!)
MORE GOOD NEWS: I’ve found the energy, as well, to get back to editing my nonfiction book for its July 31 release.
NEWS THAT’S STILL GOOD BUT NOT AS GOOD: Some of that editing–I thought I’d be proofreading–involves more writing. I keep thinking of new examples to support my major arguments and seeing new opportunities to explain myself further. You know what I mean:
- “Ooh, someone could interpret this in a way that’s too prescriptive. I should clarify what I mean.”
- “This could be more detailed to give more complete information.”
- “This aspect of things is completely missing. UGH!”
I guess the point to stop adding information to what you’re writing is when you aren’t reacting that way to what you have. 🙂 I mean, when you realize there’s an angle of approach to your topic you haven’t considered, that needs to be addressed.
HAVE A GOAL
While no chapter on any subject as wide as “outlining” or “character development” can cover EVERYTHING, I want to touch on a number of factors in each chapter and give a clear image of the way I go about things, and why my process is that way. I want to make sure the content is complete enough to answer the obvious questions and to provoke contemplation.
That is my goal. Having a goal for any piece of writing is a great way to know when you have enough (and to stop you from never stopping, if you’re a perfectionist like me). You have enough information when you meet your goal.
The good thing about me being a perfectionist and adding more material is: the amount of content in the book that isn’t on the blog is now a bit more than it was before, and that makes me happy.
I’ve been working on the outline chapter in particular the last couple of days, and added a few paragraphs that I think smooth things out. I’m pleased with the result.
The bad thing is: I’m working on a deadline. Sure, it’s a self-imposed deadline, so I could always push back the release if I need to. And if I need to, I will. That’s the obvious choice over releasing too soon, for sure.
But I’m hoping it won’t come to that! We’ll have to see. Oh well. If nothing else, the last day or two have given me a lot to celebrate:
- a renewed dedication to the craft that I sorely needed
- more quality material in my writer’s handbook. Woot!
- more ideas churning and developing
- a renewed confidence in myself, in various aspects of life
So, I wanted to say a couple things: just assure everyone I’m pulling out of the slump and to thank you for your advice and support. It’s much appreciated!
When do you think enough is enough? Do you base that call on the content you’ve divulged, or on word count or some other factor?
I want to explore this topic more, and I plan to in the next few posts, talking about when and how to wrap up a blog post and when you know you’ve reached the end of your novel.
Make sure to keep an eye out for those posts! If you like, please sign up to follow my blog via email (top right of the page) so you won’t miss out.