Novels and Length

I’m not sure if I’ve written about this before but for whatever reason my stories all seem to come out to be about 100,000 words. Some a little less 96,000 or so and some a little more 106,000 but right about in that range. When I was writing Hollow World I was pretty sure it was going to break that mold. Half way through I figured it would come in at 150,000 and it currently is around 104,000 and we’ll see what it is when the copy editors are done with it.

I think Rhune is going to go over that and once again I’m predicting 150,000 based on the fact that I think I’m about 1/2 way through considering where I am now.

For me I never “plan” on a certain length…I just write the story that needs telling and as I said it usually falls into a particular range for me.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that self-published genre writers concentrate on turning out shorter work. I don’t know if that is true…I’ve never done an analysis of word counts on various titles, but in some way if they are making a conscious effort of that nature – it’s a pretty smart thing to do (in my opinion). After all I think 3 books of 90,000 will earn more than one book of 270,000.

I was tweeting about my word count yesterday and someone said, “My manuscripts have been known to break floorboards when I drop them.” My first thought was…this might be losing the author a lot of money…if they could take a step back and look how they could turn that mammoth tomb into a series, it would be much better for them in the long run.

I’m not advocating an un-natural breaking up of a novel. I’m a firm believer that each book should have its own conflict and resolution and be satisfying in its own right. A cliffhanger – which makes you HAVE to read the next book to get resolution for the one you are reading is a bad thing (again imo). People should WANT to read the next book not be held hostage to do so. That being said…adding a little tease at the end…well that’s a good thing. You show that the door is open a crack but as I said the current book has already wrapped nicely.

So I guess I really have a few things to say.

  • Don’t shoot for a word count, let the story naturally unfold and make it the length it needs to be
  • If your story has A LOT packed into it, such that you think it will be really long, then take a step back and see if you can compartmentalize it

That’s it for today.  I’m excited to get back to work writing.

One thought on “Novels and Length

  1. That certainly seems to be what I have found as well. I think, when I first started out, I had an image in my mind of the “proper” page or word count for a novel. Certainly, there have always been genre-related trends, but your advice on not shooting for a word count and letting the story naturally unfold is definitely one of the hurdles I had to overcome.

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