Writers, Authors, Bloggers: When is Enough Info Enough?

When do you have enough content? When is your argument or your story complete? We all wrestle with that.

When do you have enough content? When is your argument or your story complete? We writers all wrestle with that question.

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I’ve written five novels, the first of which (unpublished) began as a short story that I kept adding more and more depth and information to.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.

Screen Shot 2013-06-02 at 1.37.23 PM

NEXT STEPS

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!

Hugs all around!

Hugs all around!

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.

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21 responses to “Writers, Authors, Bloggers: When is Enough Info Enough?

  1. I don’t usually have a problem knowing when to stop a blog post, but I have a big problem with knowing HOW to end one. I get my thought finished but sometimes it just doesn’t sound like it should… like the end of a piece of music, or the beautiful bow on a present. I usually end up forcing a joke or a silly statement… or finishing with a question for the readers. But sometimes I just want to add a classic third grade “and this is the end of my blog post.” 🙂

    • I know EXACTLY what you mean. I do a lot of that too, the third grade stuff. I end with questions for my readers most of the time, to provoke comments. I’ve heard that’s a good strategy. Beyond that I have no clue what to do.

  2. I have that problem with my novels. Every time I edit them, to try and shorten them, they end up longer. They’re all 20% over length and I’m scared to look at them again for fear I’ll add instead of take away… The one I’m trying to finish started as a 50k romance and is now 118k. Oops.

  3. Good question. Good answer. I worry about being too prescriptive as well, especially since I sometimes write about grammar. On ending my blog, I try to tie back to my title or to my opening thought. I should ask questions at the end, because I have heard that is a good strategy, but sometimes, though, the questions just seem tacked on.
    “And this is the end of my comment.”

    • hahaha! 🙂 I love what you say about the questions being tacked on: that’s true in a lot of instances. They’re very obvious and self-explanatory, and explicit questions really aren’t necessary.

      I just worry that someone who wants to leave a comment otherwise might not, simply because they don’t know if I’d welcome it. I feel asking direct questions to the readers is a direct invitation to share their thoughts that the more introverted and shy people might appreciate.

  4. I don’t know. I’m still inexperienced, but what I’ve observed from writing short stories and blog posts is that my mind always hungers for more information to consume and, therefore, to include in my writing. In my research for anything I write, my mind constantly says “look further for more information and interesting quotes,” even though I realize that there will be no end to it.

    This is surely a disadvantage because it takes me longer to complete a piece, although when I uncover a hidden jewel somewhere, I feel that the long hours I spend searching do pay off.

    Balance, I suppose.

  5. You like cheers? It’s one more sign that we’re supposed to be blogging friends. I’m happy to hear you busted through your writing slump. Good for you!

    Now, write on how to bust through a LIFE slump!

    • hahaha, I hear you there!! I have never felt so lost and that I’ve taken so many steps back in life…. ah, well. Sometimes that what you need to move forward.

      And yes, I LOVE Cheers. I started watching it because I’ve always loved Frasier and I know Frasier was a spinoff. I admit I can’t stand Diane but oh my gosh, Frasier and Lilith…. SOOOO funny!!!

  6. When I first started to write my blog, people “in the know” told me that my posts were too long. They all average around 1000 words in length. Now, 18 months later I find that my readers like my posts because they are longer. When I write blog posts, I treat them like I would any non-ficiton article. They have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. I space my articles and book reviews out, not allowing them to overwhelm my writing time, but it all seems to work out for me. In the end, we all need to do what we feel is right for us.

    • that’s a fantastic point, Wendy: it’s all about what’s right for you, even though everyone will have their own opinions about how you should do it.

      For me, trying to blog everyday, 1000 words would be too long an average. It would take too much time and I feel my tone won’t carry internet readers for that length of time.

      A post is only too long if it is driving people away from your blog, and your posts clearly don’t do that. I really enjoy No Wasted Ink 🙂

      • The key is, I do not blog every day. I schedule only three days a week. However, I am consistent with those three days and I rotate subjects on a schedule too so there is more than only three different types of posts on my blog. Even so, the blog keeps me writing since I have all these self-imposed deadlines to meet. I feel that all writers benefit from blogging, however they decide to develop their voice.

  7. I never could get into Cheers, but I love Frasier (and Lilith and Nils and Daphne :)) So glad you got of the slump but it was very human of you to be in one 🙂 I have a problem with endings in general. For my blog, I’m just using instinct, the sense of having said all I need to say. I don’t aim for a word count with my posts; rather, I let the content drive the length. Whether that is a successful strategy, I can’t say. I’m still trying to get organized 🙂

    • it sounds successful if it’s working for you right now 🙂 for sure. 🙂 if later on you decide to start aiming for a certain range, then great. but if you’re having success not worrying about it, I don’t see a reason to worry about it. no reason to fix what isn’t broken.

    • And I agree: NILES is the BEST. Oh my GOSH i love him as a character. fantastic!

  8. Oh, and my most favorite character on Frasier is Eddie 😉

  9. This post really resonated with me. My oldest daughter (who today is a very talented painter and tattoo artist) sculpted and painted a cute ceramic bowl in summer camp when she was about 10 years old. I LOVED it, but she wanted to “make it better” and fussed with the painted design so much that she effectively ruined it. I kept that bowl for a long time as a reminder that sometimes “better” just isn’t. As artists, we all have to find the point where our work is as good as we can make it without continually fussing over it.

    • that is a marvelous example!!! it’s so true: finding that point between not enough work and too much is hard, but necessary. That’s really your goal after you get a first draft or a rough sketch of something down.

      It’s definitely possible to put “too much” work into something and as you say, ruin it. I forget that from time to time. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. Pingback: When is enough content enough? (The Blog Edition) | Creative Writing with the Crimson League

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