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Word Count of Novel Question

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Word Count of Novel Question

Postby clknaps » Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:56 am

So out of curiosity I checked the word count on my little fledging novel-to-be and it came up at roughly 144,000 words. I estimate I'm about 3/4 of the way finished with it.
Are you wincing yet?

So, without having read it, would you suggest I:
1) Cut the length
or,
2) make it two books

I've never tried to publish anything before, but I've read that large manuscripts are generally not accepted. What about two books, is that a harder pitch to sell to a publisher?

Thanks in advance for your opinions on this matter, CLK
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Postby Qray » Sun Jan 21, 2007 11:21 am

HiHo clknaps.

I myself would suggest finishing the novel first and then going back and making that decision in the editing process. Seeing then what can be cut without compromising the story your trying to tell. You may also find that there's entire paragraphs that you can reword to shorten your stories word count.

Then again, if your of the opinion that no matter what you cut or reword, your still going to have a work that's too long, splitting it into two separate books right away may be a better use of your time as you can't just cut it in half. Each book needs to be a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

So if you positively know that it's going to need to be cut in two, it might be better to do so now. So that you can rewrite the one long story into two shorter works that can both stand on their own.

[shrug] Just some thoughts.
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Postby Grand Evander » Sun Jan 21, 2007 1:05 pm

Usually, novel manuscripts range between 80,000 and 120,000 words. It is suggested that manuscripts from first-time authors not exceed 110,000 words. The reasons for these lengths are cost of paper and knowledge of what novel length people are generally willing to read.

As to whether you should cut words or make the manuscript two books, I'd say it depends entirely on the story. The two manuscripts should be full-fledged novels in themselves, so if there's a natural divide that justifies making the large manuscript into two books, then go for it. Otherwise, I'd seriously consider lowering word count.
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Postby Magus » Sun Jan 21, 2007 1:45 pm

Statistically speaking, the average word-count of a first-time writer in the fantasy genre is about 90,000 words; the length of the average fantasy novel is somewhere in the realm of 120,000 words.

I agree with Qray all the wway: finish your novel first before you decide anything. That, above all else, is paramount. Then revise: you can never revise enough, as just about anybody can tell you. People, in general, tend to cut or shorten their writing, making it more concentrated and concise, as they revise. In On Writing Stephen King claimed that, as a general formula for himself, second draft = first draft - 10%. That works for him, but it might not work for you.

What I'm trying to get at is three-fold:

1) Finish your novel now, regardless of anything other than the story. Focus solely on that with no attention paid to outside suggestion or influence.

2) Revise, again, free from outside influence. Simply work on making your writing stronger, adding what needs to be added, taking out what's redundantly redundent and what just doesn't belong. Make it as good of a single story as you possibly can. Make it work for what you want it to be, first. Revise it again and again until you feel that any more is simply beating a dead horse.

3) See what it's new length is, and whether or not a publisher will accept it from you, and other outside factors. If you can, push it as is. If not, then revise it again, if you're willing to do this, in order to split it up into smaller segments. If you do this, and if you can, make sure that each segment you split it into is complete in of itself, in that it's a complete story that merely connects to another complete story. Make sure it has a beginning, middle and end, as well as a climax somewhere for each. In this stage, alone, should you consider outside market factors and making any drastic changes such as you propose.

Hope that this helps.
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Postby clknaps » Tue Jan 23, 2007 11:04 pm

Thanks so much for you replies folks, I really needed the advice.
Of the three of you I think I can narrow down your suggestions to three words: FINISH THE BOOK! :)
I'm laughing now because that is the advice I've gotten time and time again. Perhaps I'm just stalling, and posting a question about it on this forum is just another excuse to stall...hrm...at least I can admit it, right?
Yes yes, I think I will finish the story before I decide what to do. I know that right now there are a LOT of places in the story where I can go back and add more detail and extra plot pieces and development, now cutting out things would be far harder. But then any author would wince at having to cut up her "baby," right?
My worry is that if I do split it into two books:
The best place to end the first novel is where I am right now, about 3/4's of the way through the story. That would make for a one big fat book and one skinny book, which simply won't do.
Well, lots to think about, maybe I should go and finish the story!
Thanks, :) CLK
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Postby Scriven » Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:44 pm

Just so you know, you are no where close to done yet, so don't worry about lenght. If your journy is anything like mine you have years to go before getting a publishable piece. Go to conferences get other writers to read your work and then begin caring about lenght
I run a blog covering publishing and writing with a huge slant toward Fantasy and Sci Fi.

http://firstfolio.blogspot.com
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Postby clknaps » Wed May 30, 2007 6:29 pm

Thank you Scriven, and thanks to all who gave me their advice, I really do appreciate it.

CLK
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Postby aldan » Thu May 31, 2007 10:06 am

What I'd suggest is similar to what these others have... but don't stop reading this post yet! I think that you should finish the novel, then simply send it to someone you know and can trust to give you honest feedback. Tell that person that you want them to go through and read the story and to not only tell you whether or not it is a good read, but also to tell you what things in the story didn't make sense, what parts left you scratching your head (well, if you don't have dandruff, that is), what storylines seemed weak (as in not complete to a point where it could be picked up in a future novel if you plan for one in that series of books - if you plan for more than one novel in that 'world' at all), what characters seemed weak or inconsistent (perhaps your concept of the character changed part of the way through writing the story and you didn't complete the repairs), and other such things. Basically, ask that person to point out the holes. Will that hurt when you get the 'repair bill' (so to speak)? It's possible, even likely, but it'll give you an idea, an OUTSIDE set of eyes, of what you might need to remove, replace or repair in your 'baby'.

This will require some trust, as I said, but it should be someone that is not emotionally tied to you, who might fear your response to their criticism, or who won't want to hurt your feelings. In other words, don't send it to mom, or dad, or to hubby, for example.
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