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How to cope when you're world/ plot has gotten that bit too big...

Hi people, my WIP is about a 100-15k or so words now, and yes, I'm pretty proud of that, and I am pretty nearly done. Its just that... I think that my plot has grown to much, and when I put all the different points of view together ( I write each pov individually, and plan to put them all together when I'm done.) I fear that I am going to find that I have a massively bloated and disjointed piece of work.

I was wondering if anyone else has this trouble, and how to tackle it. I am a massive pantser, but I do have a few sheets of paper with the main plot scribbled on.


Myth Weaver
Well, the bloating problem can potentially be solved by trimming out everything you feel you don't need. If you still have "too much", I'd suggest breaking the novel up into two or more volumes to better comply with publishing standards. I'll probably be doing the same with my WIP Tenth Realm, which I don't envision as coming out much below 200k words. I'm not sure I can help you with the disjointed-ness problem, though. ^^;


Article Team
My theory on writing is that we all have to do exactly the same amount of work whether we're pansers or outliners, just in different order. Outliners organize then throw it on the page. Pansers throw it on the page then organize. Right now I'd say organize, reverse engineer an outline. It will help a lot.

In my very awful first novel, I pansed all it's 150k first draft. I then realized that I couldn't keep track of everything in my head, so I reverse engineered an outline. It wasn't complicated, just chapter headings with at most a paragraph description, but it helped a lot in the editing and organizing. Unfortunately, it didn't help in the actual writing. The book bloated up to 270k, but regardless, I found the outline tremendously helpful in seeing the big picture and seeing what went where and what I was missing.

And finally, if your think that the world is too big, then make it small again--Did I just quote Mand of Steel?-- any way, find the core of the story that you want to tell and trim the stuff that tries to make it bigger than you want, which goes to the reverse engineered outline. That will help you do this.
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thanks for these, I sort of put in an error in the original post. Its not that my world is too big, I LOVE big, detailed worlds, and I am supremely proud of mine, its just that I think I have to much going on in it, spread out too much, but hey, I'm realising that I have a lot of organisation to do, both with my writing, and my sixth form work. now... just to figure out which one is more important..... lol, its obviously my writing!!!! (unfortunately I have to say that that isn't the case, my school work is more important,.... maybe apart from geology *angry growl at the thought of that thrice dammed rocky attempt at science*


Breaking up the novel in a few other volumes seems to be ideal. You won't have to delete anything, and it might give you all the focus you need on each and every bit of your universe.


I will come out and say it: There is no such thing as too big in your first draft. There is no such thing as waste product because while there will absolutely be material you write now that won't ever see the final draft, if it helps you understand the world and the characters better it simply isn't wasted. The final product will be better, even if no one can see exactly why.

It just comes down to the joys(?!) of editing passes. You can get in there and cut a ton of stuff that feels superfluous, you can cut entire viewpoints, characters, scenes, anything that ends up bloating the story to make it more sleek. You may even be really surprised about what, on re-reading, doesn't need to be there and having so much source material may make you view where you want the plot to go or how the world develops in a new light.


toujours gai, archie
I second what SineNomine said. Just write it and don't worry about length.

Then edit it. Take Penpilot's advice and reverse engineer an outline so you can address issues of pacing. Writing is normally about painting (making more) and editing is about sculpting (making less).

Then send your work to beta readers, which mostly are a wash in terms of length. You'll wind up adding and removing.

Then, if you're lucky, you send to an editor or agent, who will slash and burn like a one-person Mongol army.

Only then, imo, once the work is thrice-tempered, do you start thinking about one volume versus multi-volume. Done right, multi-volume is much, much harder than a single novel. A single novel is hard, like weaving a tapestry. Multi-volumes are like weaving multiple tapestries in such a way that they then weave into a greater whole. It's not merely dividing the 200,000 words at 100,000. It's writing one novel with the other novel looking over your shoulder.

But really, isn't it much too soon to fret over that?


Eh, I've got friends who've cut their works from 200,000 words down to 100,000. You can find the space in the editing process, just give it time, put the effort in, and you'll find where the edits can be made.

Or yes, create another volume (or volumes).

I'm a total pantster, and I can tell you that size really doesn't matter to the writing. Take Penpilot's advice and reverse engineer a plot outline if you need one, but you really don't. In the end the plot is usually very simple, hero faces crisis, adversity happens, hero overcomes it and solves crisis. Now all you have to do for the rest of your characters is look at their story arcs and see how they fit into that simple plot.

If they don't you have two choices. One is cut, cut and cut. The other is assume that it's an epic with multiple characters going through their different story arcs that only tangentially cut into one another. Each arc needs to be complete in and of itself and read as such. Then if you combine them into one story they can become LOTR etc. Or alternatively you can do the Hugh Cook thing with his W series (it has another name which eludes me right now but every book was one "W" term and another - eg the Wizard and the Warlord, the Wombat and the Witch - yes I'm making the titles up) and make each character arc a seperate book covering the same time period / history from a different perspective.

Most important thing for large epics however you choose to write them, is to get the details right. So as I write for example I keep a separate file of data on each book. This covers geography - I don't want one lot heading north to a town that's actually south of them. A timeline so you know what each character is doing at every point in the story and they all arrive at the right place at the right time. And last a character sheet for each character. I can't remember who it was but I remember reading somewhere about a book where the character had lost an eye and yet was looking through a telescope with his missing eye because the writer got left and right mixed up.

Cheers, Greg.