1. BruMeister
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    BruMeister Member

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    A first novels word count

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BruMeister, Nov 3, 2009.

    I've had people tell me that a first novel should be from 70k-10k words long. My question is, is that really necessary? Granted I know word count makes the difference between a short story and a novel, but as it stands right now, I don't think my book is going to reach 70k words. From what I'm estimating right now is that it will be somewhere around 60k.

    Is this a problem?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Good luck finding a publisher who will even consider a 60K manuscript.
    It's not impossible, but the odds are really stacked against you.

    Unless the genre you are targeting is looking for shorter novels (YA perhaps?)
     
  3. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    I hate to hijack the post, but why is it that publishers shy away from short novels? I'm assuming simply because they do not sell quite as well. As for the original post, if I were you I would finish the novel first, then go back and add or even subtract if need be. The most important thing is to get the thing written first.
     
  4. Christoph
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    Christoph Member

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    Depending on the genre, you might have more luck trying to get it serialized in a magazine. Analog Magazine, for example, is known to serialize novel-length works of Science Fiction.
     
  5. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    When you're done writing it I would try adding until it reaches at least 70-75. If not, maybe shorten it and then you will have a novella
     
  6. HondaWriter
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    HondaWriter Member

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    Aren't most of Chuck Palahniuk's books around 60K?
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    If you click the link in my signature and apply those methods to every scene, I bet you easily end up with 80-110k
     
  8. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    Why should a first book word count be any different from a second or third. Isn't it the requirements of the publisher that determines word count?
     
  9. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    If a writer has proven that their books sell, publishers may be more lenient with them, giving them more control over what they write, how long it is, etc. They wouldn't take the same kind of risk on someone they didn't know had real selling potential though...
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...because book buyers want more book for their buck, is why!... and publishers are in business to make money, not to make writers happy...

    ...exactly!...

    ...as for word count, publishers' most-preferred/required size for first novels from new writers is 80-100k...
     
  11. seije
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    seije Member

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    Well if this is your first book you've ever tried to write, I would say not to worry about the word count too much until you're nearing the end. My goal when i started writing was 80k, and i wasn't sure if i'd make it. currently, i'm at 110k and i still have a bit more to go.

    Keep writing and see where it takes you, i say. Don't let a number discourage you from writing.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's easier to pare down a too-long ms, than to add thousands of words to a too-short one...
     
  13. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    I had the same experience: when I was told that I had to write 80.000 words, I seriously dubted that I'd been able to write so much.

    Now I'm about in the middle of the story and I've written 71.000 words, I don't know how much I've to write to complete the mission but I think that once that I finished the manuscript some serious editing will be necessary.
     
  14. Sillraaia
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    Sillraaia Senior Member

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    I can agree with that too -don't worry about the numbers until you are done.


    Really? I have always found it the other way around. Once I put in words, I feel they are all crucial to create the mood that I feel. My first draft doesn't quite hit the mood sometimes because I am hit by inspiration so fast my fingers just wanna get the scene out and it all moves so quick that I can lose some of the feeling. I find it much easier to go through afterwards and make sure I actually said everything I wanted to, and tone the mood better - but that can add a lot of words.

    My novel is a whisper away from finished... there is something I must make happen, but have been procrastinating because I kind of skipped past it in the story and then just started acting like it had already happened... heh. but my word count is at 78k.

    I suppose you are right though also - in that once I feel I am done, and happy with my story, adding words could be difficult too, but I wouldn't say more difficult than cutting them out because the idea of trimming my work is like trimming moods away, trimming a part of my soul. Words that I feel must be there for it to be complete..

    Maybe this feeling will give me a bad time if I choose to get it published; maybe I am destined to write only for my own (and families) entertainment forever. Either way, I am happy. It is the creation of babies I can be proud of that makes it all worth it for me. The idea of publicity is unappealing.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    when i said 'easier' i really meant 'easier to do a good job,' since padding a ms usually doesn't turn out well...
     
  16. McDuff
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    McDuff Member

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    Novel over 40,000 words
    Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
    Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words
    Short story under 7,500 words

    That’s the technical requirements for each type. Now whether or not a publisher will consider a 40k word novel for publication is another story.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    word counts vary, depending on the source... but what should be used as a goal for new novelists is that most publishers today want 80-100k for a first novel by unknown writers...
     
  18. afinemess
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    afinemess Active Member

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    everything I've read says 80k, but varies a few thousand depending on various genres.

    My advice, for what it's worth, just write your story and the rest will fall into place. When I got to 25k, I thought there was no way my story would end up even over 40k, but I kept writing, have taken my time, let the story develop, and it is easily hitting 70k, and has more to go. Giving yourself the goal of a specific word count will only stress you out, just write what you want, and when its totally complete, you can worry about things like word count. Just my opinion. :)
     
  19. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    I definitely agree with you, but it kind of depends on the writer. I keep track of everything I leave out or any details or side stories I skip over. That way I can more naturally add the padding as I am simply adding back in relevant material.

    I'm having a similar issue as the pacing for my novel is kind of slow and and I'm around 17000 words in. Of course going back and cutting things out could probably makes things move faster as I am writing a thriller.

    Since it's my first novel I said screw it. It's a learning experience and the only way to get the pacing right and a feel for the length is to write it :)
     
  20. Past Present
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    Past Present New Member

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    This will help

    Science Ficiton 85K-120K
    Fiction 80K-120k
    Fantasy 75K-150K
     
  21. eliza490
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    eliza490 Member

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    Word count can be kind of hard. I'm working on a book project and finding that that nasty word count is going to be a little harder to reach than I thought. I would suggest writing it first in a way you feel comfortable. Then as you start looking for a publisher add and subtract as necessary until you feel what you've written is long enough to be accepted by a publisher.
    ~Eliza
     

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