Whenever I start a new story, I open two documents. The first one is the story I’m trying to write, and the second is all the bits that I want to keep, but cut from the story for one reason or another. I usually call this document “cut bits” because I am extremely inventive like that.
As I go, I will usually add a few more documents. One to hold research or stuff I copied and pasted from Wikipedia. Maybe a timeline or a document with relevant full names, just so that I don’t forget them. But most of the work happens in those two documents.
Most of the time I wind up with the cut bits weighing in at roughly half the word count of the finished story. I probably deleted some stuff in there that would never be used, or pasted back some stuff after I found a place for it.
The story that I am currently writing is only a bit over 3000 words, but the cut bits document is well over 3500.
Now, I don’t store drafts in cut bits. This isn’t a bin to put all of my previous versions. I use a sort of version control for that. Cut bits is only for stuff that I can’t use right now, but I like the flow of a certain sentence or paragraph, so I keep it around to see if I can use it later. So I haven’t just typed in more than double the words, I have written, and discarded more than double the words in the story.
These are different words. Different paragraphs. Entirely different ideas that might still fit in the current story.
I don’t think this is a six or seven thousand-word story. This is a fairly short story, but I have had so much trouble with it that I have had to try it several different ways.
I still really like it though. There is something good in this story, but even after writing more than twice the words it needs (actually seven or eight times when you take the revisions into account), I haven’t quite nailed it. It’s very close, but it’s not there yet.
Maybe this week.