10 Ingenious Ways to Increase Your Word Count and Win NaNoWriMo!

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It’s November! And you know what that means? No, not pumpkin spice the everything! November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). And for those of us who are trying to reach that coveted 50,000 word count by the end of the month, I have for you the secret to success, a list of ingenious ways you can increase your word count without bruising your brain.

1. Give your characters super long names

Ever wonder why George R. R. Martin’s novels are so thick? It’s because of his character’s names. Take Daenerys Targaryen for example. During her campaign in Slaver’s Bay, she is introduced as Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons. That’s 40 words and you’ve only introduced the main character! And how about Robert Baratheon? His name is so long they actually say “so on” and “so forth” while writing it out to save on word count. But for those of us trying to win NaNoWriMo, we’d write the name out.

2. Have your characters break into song whenever possible 

Why not? Tolkien did it. How else would his books have ended up so long? So make up a song, a silly song, or have your characters sing a popular number from their time period. If all else fails they can sing “The Song That Doesn’t End” from Lamb Chops Sing-Along, as many rounds as it takes to make your word count goal.

3. Provide lengthy descriptions of everyone/everything 

Another thing Tolkien did to stretch his stories out was to provide lengthy descriptions of characters and plants. And if he could get away with it, why not you? So, instead of saying something simple and direct like “she fled into the forest” try fleshing it out with more adjectives until you end up with something like “The young brunette girl in the white and blue polka dotted dress fled into the thick, damp, and moldy forest. Her red high heel shoes stuck in the sticky brown mud.” See how many more words there are when you describe every single little detail?

4. Have your characters slip into lengthy monologues

Even if they have nothing important to say, have them say a lot. Nothing like a three-page monologue to up the word count. Villains, in particular, are good at this sort of thing. Just watch any cartoon or movie to see how it’s done.

5. Copy and paste the same scene multiple times

Go through your draft and find a scene you really like. Copy it. Paste it. Repeat until you reach your word count goal.

6. Give every character a complex backstory and share it

Either by storytelling or by flashback, reveal every single character’s complicated backstory. That’s sure to add pages to your draft and help you reach your word count goal.

7. Create a ton of minor characters

The dialogue alone will increase your word count. Then there’s the added description, interactions, and backstory. Make them argue, tell jokes, quip, and banter. The more the merrier. Make sure you give them all really long names!

8. Fill your story with filler filling

If your characters run out of things to do or defeat the baddie before you reach 50,000 words, have them go on a side adventure like a shopping spree or a trip to the circus, whatever keeps them busy and ups your word count. A visit from a long lost grandmother is sure to keep your main character occupied while his best friend and worst enemy go out on a date. Whatever inconsequential activity you can think up, it’s sure to pay off word-count wise.

9. Have your characters perform tedious daily tasks

Another reason why George R. R. Martin’s novels are so long. His characters eat, sleep, bathe, and f**k as often as they can and then they eat some more. So have your characters wake up each morning, wash their faces, do their chores, eat breakfast, pee, wipe their butts, eat lunch, roll in the hay, eat dinner, pray, and go to bed. And don’t forget to describe in great detail what they’re having for dinner!

10. When all else fails resort to button smashing

Yes, you heard me. Hit the keys. Random words, letters, and numbers are sure to add up eventually. Special characters probably count, too, so don’t exclude the top row on your keyboard.

Now you’re ready to . . . write the world’s worst pile of drivel. Okay, let’s quit playing around. Here are some GOOD tips to increasing your word count:

1. Wake up an hour early or stay up an hour late

Better than finding more words and scenes to write is to find more time to write. Having more time will allow you to pace yourself and focus on putting down words that will enhance your story, not harm it.

2. Drink coffee

I don’t drink coffee in the mornings; I drink it ALL DAY LONG! Caffeine makes us more productive and allows our brains to work more rapidly, allowing us to get a lot done. Coffee helps us stay alert, plus it tastes good and keeps us happy while writing those difficult scenes.

3. Plan. Plot. and Prep

I’m a panster at heart, but I create an outline because I must. It helps to know where your story is going so when you come to a blank page you spend less time wondering what should happen and instead spend your time actually writing what you know should happen next. Plus, you save yourself half the headache during revisions.

4. Gag your internal editor

The best way to get words down on paper is to put them down and leave them. Your internal editor is going to want to stop, go back, and tweak that word. Tell that internal editor to shut up because he’s/she’s wasting your time. Remember, you can always go back and fix that word or sentence later. The goal is to just get the words down on paper.

5. Generate new ideas and try them out

You’re in the drafting stage, not the editing stage, so take this time to brainstorm new ideas and try them out. Bad ideas can always be cut out later, and good ideas can take your story to a whole new level.

6. Explore the unexplored

Wondering if those two characters should hook up or what would happen if those two characters were left alone together? What if so-and-such never died? Wonder no more. Write it. Unnecessary filler can be cut later, and if nothing else, the scenes you did cut will still have allowed you to explore your characters in more depth. Themes, characters, and conflicts should all be explored and played with during the drafting phase. Remember, you can cut out the crap later.

7. Create an interesting cast of minor supporting characters

Give your main character someone to talk to and interact with. Loners don’t reach word count goals. Plus, characters are more interesting when placed beside someone who pulls out their best and worse qualities. Take Shrek for example. He was pretty boring until Donkey and Fiona showed up.

8. Add internal conflicts to external conflicts

Instead of just adding more and more action scenes to up your word count, add some internal conflict during the scenes you already have. If your main character is pitted against a monster, don’t just have him battle the beast; have him battle his own cowardice as well. Maybe fighting isn’t his first response to a conflict. Maybe he’s worried he’s a wimp. Maybe he’s a careless showboat and needs to learn a lesson. Maybe he has to choose between saving himself or his friend or choose which friend he can save. The internal conflict will not only add word count but it will set the stakes so much higher.

9. Let your characters talk

Don’t just give your hero traveling companions to ride with. Have them talk and argue, quip, and banter while they ride or camp or whatever. Even the dullest of travel scenes can be improved by a few well-timed jokes plus dialogue increases word count.

10. Just. Keep. Writing.

Seriously, the only way to increase word count is to keep writing. So, just keep writing, writing, writing. What do we do, we write! Write!

There you have it, 10 ingenious ways to increase your word count and win NaNoWriMo. If you have other fun or helpful ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Good luck!

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7 Essential e-Publishing Tips: A Guest Post by Author M.J. Moores

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What day is it? C’mon! Say it! Say it! It’s Hump Day! Whoo-hoo! And I have a treat to get you through the mid-week hump, a guest post by author, editor M.J. Moores, OCT. Today, she’s going to share with you 7 essential e-publishing tips. Take it from here, M.J.!


It’s hard to imagine being an author today and not having an e-version of your book available for sale. In fact, with ½ of all books sold (on a yearly basis since 2012) being eBooks, that’s a market you don’t want to be left out of. However, I still come across many self-published authors who haven’t taken that next step. And whether you’re just starting into the e-publishing game or you’ve been making your way alone through the quagmire here are 7 essential tips to consider.

ONE – Get to know the players.

Kindle generally claims ½ of all eBook sales and the other half go to a variety of mid-sized and small niche markets: Apple’s iBook, Barnes & Noble’s nook, Google Books, Kobo and many more. Depending on your prowess and comfort with being a small business owner and managing your books, there are 3 standard options to consider: Just going with 1 platform (e.g. Kindle Unlimited); going with 2 or 3 distribution platforms (Kindle Direct & Smashwords or Draft2Digital); or going direct with as many companies as you can (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Google Books, etc.) and then finding 1 or 2 multi-platform distributors to get your book into the smaller niche markets. No one option is the right one and none of them are wrong.

TWO – Do your market research.

Check out what demographic buys where, to hit your optimal sales figures. If you’re writing for the teen or YA market (we all know that adults love YA just as much as teens!) then putting in the time and effort to have a solid presence on WattPad could be a substantial benefit to your e-industry. You need to realize that getting into this business on a wing-and-a-prayer may work some of the time, but more often than not first-timers get discouraged and frustrated when their expectations do not become a reality.

THREE – Make sure your eBook is as nicely formatted as your print book (if you have one).

The ease with which anyone can publish online today often leads to hasty uploads to the marketplace. Either do your research and study the style guide for your chosen distributor(s) or hire a professional to simplify the process. There are a number of authors who offer services like editing and formatting at discounted prices to supplement their income. Chat in writing forums online or ask around at a local writers meeting to see who might “know someone” to help you out. You want your readers to have the best possible experience with your text so that it disappears from the screen and simply becomes alive in the mind.

FOUR – Get yourself a nice cover image.

If you happen to be a graphic artist and you’d like to build a book cover using a design program you’re comfortable with, go for it. You can easily find the dimensions for the cover that your preferred distributor uses and then get creative. If you happen to dabble with graphic design or you’re using a cover page template provided by your distributor (or a 3rd party) then you’ll need to do your research. There are proven complimentary visual elements of style that are necessary for you to understand about the art of cover art and how that differs from print to digital imaging the size of an icon or postage stamp. You also need to know what your target market likes. If your cover looks amateur and doesn’t accurately represent your niche genre then you’re trying to hit a home-run with a Nerf baseball bat at Fenway.

FIVE – Make sure the price is right.

Yes, you have your print book listed at $16.99 but that doesn’t mean you automatically list your eBook for that price. For print you have to consider the cost of physically creating and then shipping your book to your reader. On a 350 page book you’re looking at costs between $8-$12 on average. Immediately take that away from your $16.99 price tag – eBooks are published with the click of a button and sold with one too. Suddenly your book is sitting around $4.99-$6.99 – much more comfortable numbers… but are they your numbers? The facts are that most eBooks gain their highest sales (depending on your genre of course) around the $2.99-$3.99 price bracket. If you’re a relative unknown in your publishing market then the better bet is to start on the lower end. If you’re well-known then go with the mid-range pricing since you already have a solid readership. And if you happen to be Stephen King, go for broke and sit at the high end as you continue to rake in the cash for your literary offerings 😉

SIX – Work the system.

Whatever e-publishing platform (or distributor) you happen to go with, they will have a means by which you can place your book on sale, do a limited time discount, participate in %-off days or other promotional opportunities. Bottom line – if someone thinks they’re getting a good deal, they’re more likely to buy. This goes across the board with print publishing too, but take advantage of sites where you can list your book for free (because it’s discounted or naturally sits at a certain price range) as there are always bibliophiles on the hunt for a great buy.

SEVEN – Give it away for FREE.

Yes, this is a controversial topic in-and-of itself but hear me out. There are three ways to do this and I’ll guarantee you’ll like at least one of them 😉 The first and most widely practiced is having a “free day” or days for your full-length book. Why go free? The general rule of thumb is that for every 30 books sold you’ll gain 3 reviews. If your book is downloaded 300 times on its free day, then you’re looking at a potential 30 reviews to help hype up and sell more books for a profit. However, there are other ways to get reviews (reaching out to book bloggers one-by-one or paying review services like NetGalley or ChooseyBookworm to make your book available to their network of reader-reviews – this is not the same as paying for reviews, which you should never do) which leads me to option two; free teasers. By making prequel chapters available for free or writing ‘extra’ material that can act as a reference or introductory text of some kind you are providing a hook for potential readers to get to know you, your style and content. Options three is making use of giveaways during your pre-launch and launch days to help spread the word about your new book. Who doesn’t like winning something for free? Goodreads is a great platform to help with this or you could go solo and work with Rafflecopter and run your own giveaway.

Getting into the eBook game might strike you as anything from exciting to nauseating depending on how self-assured you are when branching out and trying something new. Just remember, the writing and publishing community (both on and off line) is here to help you. Yes, we’re all in competition for that almighty buck but ultimately we know that if we can help you succeed there’s a chance for us out there too.


picM.J. Moores began her career as an English teacher in Ontario, Canada. Her love of storytelling and passion for writing has stayed with her since the age of nine. M. J. relishes tales of adventure and journeys of self-realization. She enjoys writing in a variety of genres but speculative fiction remains her all time favourite. M.J. is a regular contributor to Authors Publish Magazine and she runs an Emerging Writers website called Infinite Pathways where she offers editing services and platform building opportunities. Her debut novel Time’s Tempest is currently available in print and e-format.The 2nd book in the series will be coming out early in September!

Connect with MJ on her website, her blog, or on Facebook.

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression

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Readers just don’t want to be told how the character feels; they want to feel what the character feels. That is when the Emotion Thesaurus comes in handy.

It doesn’t matter how exciting the events in a novel, without emotion the story will not be engaging to the reader. The emotional journey is the one the reader is truly interested in. We are, by nature, emotional beings; emotion is what fuels us, connects us, and allows us to share ideas and information with others in a meaningful way. As writers, we have the difficult task of trying to capture a character’s emotions and put it onto paper in a believable way. Readers just don’t want to be told how the character feels; they want to feel what the character feels. For this to happen, the characters have to express themselves in ways that are relatable to the reader.

Typically, writers are observant and empathetic people, but what about those who are not naturally inclined? Or how does a writer relay the emotions of a character suffering from long-term depression or anxiety if they themselves have never felt such strong or long-term emotions? That is when The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi comes in handy.

The Emotion Thesaurus provides a list of emotions such as anger, fear, curiosity and provides a definition of each, physical signals, internal signals, mental responses, cues of acute, long-term, and suppressed emotion, as well as tips and techniques for writing nonverbal emotion.

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We are, by nature, emotional beings. As writers, we have the difficult task of trying to capture a character’s emotions and put it onto paper in a believable way.

It’s very easy to use. Say I’m writing a scene about a character experiencing guilt for example, I would look up guilt and read the definition to make sure it’s the appropriate emotion. From the list of physical cues provided, I can select the ones that fit my character best, such as, ‘averting or lowering one’s gaze’ or ‘lip biting.’ I can also select internal sensations to show how my character feels, for example, ‘upset stomach’ or ‘pain in the back of the throat.’ There are also mental responses such as ‘anxiety’ to make my character’s feelings real.

As a person who sometimes lacks sympathy for others and has a problem of telling the reader what I want to say rather than showing, this resource has been invaluable. The resource includes 75 emotion entries, each section ending with a writing tip.

The Emotion Thesaurus is available online in paperback format and for Kindle. I purchased mine for Kindle on Amazon.com.

For any writer, novice or professional, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression is a great resource.

Editing 101: When to Kill Your Darlings

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In my last post, I discussed in small detail the importance of editing your novel before submitting your work to publication. Because this is such a vital step in the pre-publishing process, and because my own work is in the editing process, I’ve decided to pursue the topic in more depth.

Let’s start with characters. After all, you can’t write a story without characters. There are numerous books on how to develop good strong characters, but what should you do when your characters just won’t work?

One of my college professors put it best when she told us novice writers, “Sometimes, you’ve just got to kill your darlings.”

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Sometimes, you’ve just got to kill your darlings.

No, these are not the words of an insane homicidal women, and no, she was not planning on going home to murder her husband and three children. To her, darlings refer to those lines, characters, scenes, and even motifs of which the author is particularly fond, but don’t actually work for the novel. I know it sounds a little dramatic to compare cutting a character from a writing to murder, but for those of us who are writers, that’s about the gravity of it.

I can attest to the trauma of having to write out several characters from my current project, some of which I loved dearly. The novel focuses on the relationship between two characters put together against their wills as a type of joke. By the middle of the novel, I need for them to reach their snapping point, but come together again at the end to reach a compromise in order to accomplish both of their goals. During their journey, I planned on having them pick up additional companions who I thought would support their story and help bring about further character development. I was wrong.

The companions proved to be more distracting than helpful, stealing the focus and thunder from the main characters. Desperate to make them fit, I made countless changes to the manuscript, some of which were detrimental to the plot. In the end, I created and cut out more than five characters.

One character did survive the purge, a former midget wrestler named Hervey. As a supporting character, he adds interest to the story without being distracting. His role in the story is clear and serves the purpose of the novel.

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Sometimes no matter how hard we try, we just can’t make our darlings fit.

So, how do you know when it’s right to kill your darlings? Simple answer: when you realize it just won’t work. It takes a critical mind to know when you’re holding onto something just because you like it. For me, when a character or scene becomes too hard to justify or when I’ve had to work way too hard to make something barley fit, then it’s time to cut it out. It’s like when you’re working on a puzzle and the pieces just won’t go together, but they look like they should, so you start pounding them together to make them lay flat. It might look like it goes there, but it doesn’t, and once all the pieces are set, the errors will show.

Outlining your novel in the pre-writing stage helps to prevent these issues, but even careful planning cannot prevent some darlings from sneaking in. That’s why the editing process is so important. Review your manuscript multiple times and with a critical eye. Be merciless in your hunt for darlings. Leave no survivors! And if the little buggers allude you, seek the help of others. Most publishers suggest having no less than three pairs of eyes on your work, including your own, so enlist beta readers, hire an editor, do whatever it takes to hunt down and destroy those darlings before they mar your manuscript!

I know it’s hard, but sometimes you’ve got to sacrifice a few darlings for the overall quality of your novel. You can always throw those characters a little funeral or hold onto them in a separate word document. Who knows, maybe they’d fit great in your next novel. Just don’t smash them down where they don’t fit, or you’ll end up with a manuscript that’s just as confusing as a bunch of puzzle pieces smashed together where they don’t fit.