Word Count Problems: How To Lengthen College Papers
Writing a 1,000 word essay is hard enough. Going up to 2,000, 5,000 and further can sometimes be really tough, especially if you didn’t quite choose a topic with the appropriate scope — and this happens more frequently than you might think.
Fact is, it’s not that easy to stretch a few core ideas into a paper that spans 10 to 20 pages. However, if you try to cover too much, you can end up confusing the reader and losing the essence of your main argument. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck writing in passive structures and getting by with numerous fillers, though.
Stretching For Word Count Isn’t Bad
We tend to scoff at the idea of stretching a paper’s word count. After all, we’re always told that the more concise a piece of writing is, the better. However, word count requirements are a reality not just in school, but in a lot of writing fields. If you want to be published, for instance, it’s impossible not to embrace the struggle for reaching industry standard word counts for different types of work.
Give Historical Background
One way to beef up your pages is to discuss historical background about the topic, especially how discussion about it has evolved over the years. For some subjects, you can easily clear a page or two on this alone. To make sure the background exposition doesn’t get in the way of your actual discussion, try to keep it early in the paper, such as right next to the introduction or after discussing the first main point.
Look To The Future
Give your assessment of how your ideas could be relevant to the future of the subject. What areas can future researchers expand on and which ones should people pay more attention to? Basically, you give an educated prediction of how perception about the subject will play out in time.
Normally, you want this towards the end, right around the concluding paragraph. Word of warning: since this will be mostly conjecture aided by facts, you might not want to dwell on it too much. A few sentences to help add to your word count efforts should be enough.
Discuss counter-arguments to your points, then present a case why it’s a less persuasive option to take. You can do this for nearly every argument you present, so you can double the word count using this single technique if it’s necessary.
Develop A Point Further
Examine all the main points in your body paragraphs. Are there any that you can develop and explore further? Particularly, ones that you can break into sub-points for individual discussion. Chances are, there will be some. This could even work in your favor, as the further development can solidify the strength of your overall argument.
Make A Comparison
This isn’t applicable to all papers, but if you’re writing a book review, a play review or something along those same lines, you could spend part of the discussion comparing various aspects of the subject to another. If you’re writing a film review, you can compare it to the director’s previous efforts or to another director with whom the filmmaker is often compared. For a historical book report, you can compare it to other accounts, noting the similarities and differences.
Take a look at your supporting statements. Are there any parts where you summarized information lifted from a source? Consider expanding those into more detailed descriptions, quoting the original material and injecting your own ideas. More often than not, this requires you to be more specific in your discussion, leading to longer paragraphs that could solve your word count woes.
This is more geared towards book reports and reviews of cultural items, such as films and plays. Basically, you look for symbolisms embedded in the work, then discuss them as part of your paper. Discuss the symbolism used and what they represent in the larger scheme of things, offering your ideas on how it helped shape the work.
Adjusting Your Scope
If you find yourself a few hundred words short after discussing all your main points, you could adjust the scope a bit. Just a tiny adjustment that could allow you to tackle an additional related point or two should be enough to let you expand the paper’s coverage to clear your word count requirements.
Inserting one more illustration for each main point is a great way to increase the length of a paper without resorting to fluff or veering off-topic. Just make sure to use an example that’s slightly different than what you’ve already used previously, so it actually serves to present a more complete picture, rather than merely act as repetitive filler.
Look at your research notes and seek out memorable quotes that you can use to add impact to your arguments. You can also return directly to your source materials for these, in case you never really paid attention to quotable materials during research. Either way, quotes can add some needed length to your paper, provided you don’t go around quoting entire paragraphs — doing that makes it a little too transparent that you’re being lazy.
Elaborate On Your Supporting Statements
Often times, you can find ways to further elaborate on your supporting statements and evidence. Take advantage of that. An additional sentence of explanation for several supporting points shouldn’t hurt your paper (in fact, it can be good in some instances), all while allowing you to increase page count considerably.
Basically, look for opportunities to add more detail, especially factual and descriptive ones. Evidence and examples are great places to start, since they deal with facts, hard numbers and real events. You could describe a setting, talk about the characteristics of an object or explain the significance of a statistic to specific demographics. The good news? This could seriously improve your paper, as details can help turn dull prose into something more vibrant and picturesque.
Add A Summary To Your Conclusion
It’s not unusual for long papers to include a brief summary of the main points as part of the conclusion. Often, it works out as an effective way of reminding the reader about the preceding discussion, ensuring they remember the main talking points as you present your conclusion.