How to Write Scenes that Keep the Pages Turning

How can we write scenes that keep the pages turning? By creating the conditions that will enable readers to relate with our characters. Our brains are wired to react to stories. Think about it: have you ever been so engrossed in a book or even a movie and forgotten where you were? Have you ever been so absorbed in a novel you lost all track of time?

Is It Really Necessary to Determine Your Estimated Word Count Prior to Writing?

A quick update on the short story writing challenge:

I’m happy to say that the short story writing challenge is going very well. It’s really given me an opportunity to hone my skills even further and strengthen some of my weaknesses. Having consistent feedback and critiquing has also been super helpful along the way!

So far the story is just over 10,000 words! I was aiming for 7,500, but…this specific story just needed more words to be told well. Which brings about the question: Is it really necessary to determine your estimated word count prior to writing?  

word count

When writing a book, or even a short story, I’ve always had an idea of how long I want the finished project to be. I would take my estimated final word count, divide by average number of scenes, and so on…

But does knowing the word count and scene count from the start really matter? What if you start writing a novel but the story can be told effectively in just 15,000 words—with even more impact? Then, you’ll have a novelette instead of a novel, and maybe adding more words for the sake of length would take something away from the story.

On the other hand, what if you start writing what you think is going to be a short story—maybe 5,000-7,500 words—but then 12,000 words into it you realize you’re only halfway there—the story needs more words to be told effectively?

I know for die-hard outliners it’s imperative to know the estimated number of scenes and words from the get-go. I understand that. But the more I write, the more I’m finding myself somewhere in the middle of being an outliner and pantser. I want to have a general idea of the story I’m writing, I want to see the arc of the story, but then I want to let the story take me where it wants to go. Knowing the general idea, the major points I need to hit, the arc, and where I want to begin and end up is my guide (my loose outline). You can read more about the process my co-author and I use in this article:

How We Use Fence Posts to Plan Our Writing

What I’m saying is that if there’s a story fighting to get out onto paper, then just write it. Don’t worry about trying to fit the story into specific parameters of word counts. Just write it and it will develop into what it’s supposed to be.

Have you ever started writing what you thought was going to be a short story but instead turned into a novel or vice-versa? Share in the comments below!

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3 Reasons to Write Short Stories

Some of the greatest writers started out writing short stories—Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, and Mark Twain to name just a few. And while short stories may not be as popular today as the novel or bestselling fiction in the front of bookstores, they still serve a purpose. Many in fact. For readers and writers alike.

Writer's Block - Myth or Truth?

My article How to Conquer the Bogeyman AKA Writer’s Block was published over at The Writing Cooperative. Click here to read in its entirety. Below is a sneak peek:

Writer’s block—myth or truth? What if I told you that you are in complete control of your writing inspiration and that it doesn’t control you? That there is no mythical bogeyman standing behind you, blocking all of your great ideas, laughing as you stare at the blinking cursor agonizing over the lack of words on the screen?  

How to Bring Your Characters to Life

What is a story without vivid and interesting characters? Not much of a story at all. Our goal as writers is to create characters our readers will care about. You can give readers an exciting and thrilling plot, even give them edge-of-the-seat suspense, but without memorable characters, your readers will quickly lose interest.

Characters are one of the most vital elements of our story. But how do we create characters worth reading about? In today’s post I will give you strategies to develop memorable characters and 4 ways to introduce those characters to your reader.

How to Write Beginnings that Capture the Minds of Your Readers

If you’ve ever struggled to get the beginning of your story just right, know that you’re not alone. Many of us struggle with the first few chapters. Beginnings are challenging because they carry so much weight in your overall story. They need to grip the reader’s attention, enticing them to want to experience the adventure that follows.