1. FirstTimeNovelist91
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    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

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    How long was your first novel?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by FirstTimeNovelist91, Jul 7, 2012.

    How long was your first [published] novel? If you haven't had a published novel, feel free to answer this question also.

    Should a first time novelist limit his/her novel in length? I am already at 106 pages, and I feel as though I will need at least 150 more pages to tell my story, possibly even more. But a lot has happened in the first 106 pages! :)

    Btw, I am still in the first draft still, if that means anything.
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am not published but my draft clocked in at 377 pages (roughly 100K words). I don't think you should worry about length, especially in your first draft. You should just write. I've heard many a novelist talk about carting around physical copies of their drafts that were in excess of 800 pages. Write until you feel done and then in revision see what needs to be cut and what needs to be added.

    I'm not a fan of targeting a story's length or worrying about whether one is writing a short story, novella, or novel. I say write it and see how long it turns out.
     
  3. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    My first novel was not published. It is 76 pages or close to 25,000 words, and it is awful. I meant for it to be 200-250 pages, but I got the entire story out in 76.

    Its good to dream big, but I wouldn't write your first novel around what a publisher wants, use your first novel as a learning experience. Instead of investing the time to write one 600 page novel, it might be beneficial to write two 300 page novels.There are no rules, I think most writers have a niche page length for their novels so use however many words you want.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The first draft of my first novel came to 78,000 words. I generally work by adding rather than cutting (there are some major gaps in the first draft that demand to be filled), so I estimate the final version will be about 100,000 words. It's on the back burner until I get a few short stories and a couple of novellas done.
     
  5. JonSpear360
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    JonSpear360 Member

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    My first finished novel was just over 50k after the first draft, then around 80k the second draft, and then the last draft it settled around 70k. I'm currently re-writing it and am about 22k in, I could easily see it being around 70k again. (It's YA so I was shooting for around 60k)
     
  6. Steph4136
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    Steph4136 Senior Member

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    The book I'm in the process of having edited is around 400 pages and 120K word count. I'm going to try to get it published. *fingers crossed*
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Page count is completely irrelevant. A word count of 120K is at the high end of the range and will be a hard sell. Most publishers prefer 80K-100K.

    Don't think it doesn't matter! Publishers have far too many manuscripts coming in, so they weed out submissions outside of their guidelines without even looking at the content. The ability to read submission guidelines is considered a professional prerequisite.
     
  8. Steph4136
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    Steph4136 Senior Member

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    I know I'm at the end limit of the cap as far as word count is concerned. I was actually pretty surprised when I put it all into one document and saw the total (I wrote each chapter as its own document). My hope is that my synopsis will sell the book and that they like the idea enough to want to pursue it.
     
  9. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    Ok, I'm not even going to tell you what I think about counting pages like a lunatic, but I'd like to ask you something. Is this page obsession something they do in America? Cause everyone I've told about this "it needs to be at least 320 pages long unless you are Britney Spears" -policy have laughed their heads off.

    Who walks into a bookstore and thinks; oh, this book looks interesting, but unfortunately it costs 20 dollars and is only 200 pages long . I think I'm going to buy a thicker one for the same price. No offense, but it sounds quite American. It's not like you're buying apples!
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You're selling to a publisher, and publishers want word counts, not page counts. Page counts depend on too many factors, and with a good word count, the page count will work itself out (with a little help from the layout/typesetting teams).

    Your only size consideration, as a writer, should be the word count.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that... stop counting pages!

    my first, a mystery of sorts, finished up at 78k...
     
  12. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    It was about 80K, the number I was told to shoot for. I've stuck close to that ever since.
     
  13. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    Well then I'm off in la-la land because I'm fairly certain my outline hits 80k alone! The again I really don't have any intention of going with X amount of words simply because I long ago threw out the matter and have a friendly publisher who does not know the nightmare which is my work. If you intend to be professionally published, aim for a mark, if your writing is a labor of love, forget about it! Many publishers do not set hard requirements for length and trust the author to make the decision, but still require the first few chapters to gauge the skill of the author. Sadly, it is these same publishers which can take 4 months to get back to you.
     
  14. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think there's a big difference between getting out the first draft of a first novel versus editing and prepping that novel for submission to a publisher. The time to worry about word count is in the editing/publishing/submission process. Worrying too much about publishing requirements or submission guidelines while one has just started writing a first novel is putting the cart before the horse.
     
  15. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    I'm not done writing it yet, but I estimate it to be 70k which I would be pleased with.
     
  16. FirstTimeNovelist91
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    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

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    For first time novelists, the shorter, the better. Usually. I'm already at 32k and still have a ways to go, but I think it will end at around 90k if I keep the story lean.

    I just want to be conscientious of my pages. It would kill me to have cut numerous pages in the editing process, so I would rather start out lean.
     
  17. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    My story is done when it's done. That is the joy of editing... It is good to have a target in mind, but try to get the everything written first.

    - Darkkin
     
  18. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Personally, I think a first draft can be as long as it needs to be. In the editing process, a good chunk will be cut off anyway. That's why I'm not really worried.

    I'm still confused about why you're worrying about 'pages'...
    Word count, yes. But pages, no. Worry about that later.
     
  19. FirstTimeNovelist91
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    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

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    Word counts can be representative of pages and pages can be representative of word counts. Even though they don't mean the same, I use them interchangeably.
     
  20. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This isn't really true. Word counts are absolute. Page counts depend on page size, margin width, font size, lines per page, and so on and so forth. Different editions of the same book can have very different page counts even if the word count is identical. This is why publishers prefer using word counts, and so should you.
     
  21. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    Still its like saying 'how many grapes in this bag' and 'how many bags in a box'? If I need exactly one thousand grapes I certainly won't buy 4 boxes at an an assumed 250 grapes per bag. Word counts work the same way. Even though I can have short dialogue pages with low word counts, I can also go 400+ words with dense prose. If they ask for word count, give them word count, not some 250*X pages.
     
  22. FirstTimeNovelist91
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    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

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    I understand, but don't most publishers want Times New Roman 12pt font?
     
  23. lasm
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    lasm Member

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    I wrote a thing for Nanowrimo once which was 40K at the end, but I dunno if I count it as a novel.

    Currently I'm about 2/3 through a first draft (I think) and around 100k. Probably some heavy editing in its future, but I've discovered I have a tendency to make characters repeat themselves a little, so cutting/condensing will be a good thing.
     
  24. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    It's a standard. Though the difference in font from Arial or Courier can alter the page counts, font type is usually not the problem. It is easy to pack lots of words onto a single sheet of paper. My writing tends to be very dense description, narration or character observations which can stretch for a page or so by themselves. When I actually get into discussions with my characters, the resulting interruptions and actions (usually one the same line) will allow for lengthy sections like this.
    ----
    "All in favor?" Captain Who-I-Made-up grinned.

    "Aye!" "Argh!" "YARRR!" Dumb crew say all together, fist pumping the air.

    "We're doomed." Says only sensible member of the group.

    "Nerre'not! I'm vffs-ery gut axe dem eggscapes." -Annoying and incompetent SC with a lisp.

    "Leave me alone! I don't like you! Shoo! SHOO! Go bug someone else!" Actual MC facepalming, "Join a pirate crew they said..."
    ----

    Am I being a bit weird about it? Yes, but sometimes there is just not enough time for action to follow words. Even with a paragraph of text here and there, the impact of stupidity or an impending situation doesn't offer long winded description. Dialogue-heavy novels can really push out the page counts; if it is populated by one liners or a sense of weird comedy, even longer. A comedic punchline doesn't owe itself to density, but if I made anyone reading this smile I've done good.
     
  25. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    My first novel / err draft actually, was approx 800,000 words - which means it was longer than James Joyce's Ulysses and the Bible!

    I'm glad you asked this question , I had no idea publishers were more concerned with word count than the number of pages. That makes me slightly nervous as , I can get get pretty wordy for my page count - which means my estimate of 300 pages might be bumped down to 250 - to stay within a certain word count.
     

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