Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Musings on word length ...

I’ve been having plenty of ideas the last couple of weeks for stories; most of the time they are just a tiny thread, sparked by something I’ve seen or heard.  They sit in my mind, festering and expanding and often I can elaborate on the initial thought into something with a bit more substance.

The problem I seem to have is knowing exactly how far an idea can be stretched without it being too much (or too little) in terms of word count.  

When I’ve been writing pieces for competitions the maximum word count is given so it makes it easier to structure and contain the ideas.  However, when ideas just come to me I initially wonder about making them into a short story, but then it runs away from me turning into something potentially longer.  I don’t want to start writing too much for any particular story though and pushing it beyond what it’s worth.

Does anyone have any particular method for deciding on the length of their stories?  Do you plan to keep it to a certain length or just wing it until you’re happy with the result?

Answers on a postcard!

1 comment:

  1. Gary Penhaligon7 March 2012 at 16:25

    Hi Heather,
    A very interesting question and one I always struggle with. I guess I am in the wing it category. This sounds silly but I always let the story dictate the word length. My stories tick over in the back of my mind until they are ready to be typed out, they nearly are always fully formed when I do. I then have to edit them down to their natural size. Some are a thousand words some are ten thousand depending on the nature of the story. They do always need lots of editing as they are rough. I guess the skill is knowing what is rubbish and what is usable and develop it from there.

    I always find it difficult to write to a specific limit though because I cannot always tell how big a story will be when I get to write it.