1. NyMichael20
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    NyMichael20 Member

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    Length and Pace of writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by NyMichael20, Aug 23, 2010.

    I believe the average novel is something like 120,000 words. Now I'm not trying to write a novel right off the bat, but for some reason my writing feels very fast to me.

    Things happen at a rapid pace in my stories and often something important can happen on one page alone. I end up with a story lasting 50 pages or so when it could easily be twice that.

    Any tips on pacing of a story or font size?

    Sorry if this is the wrong forum, I'm new.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Font size?

    For manuscripts, you should be concerned only with word count, not how many pages it amounts to. For an unknown writer, the submission guidelines for a novel are usually between 80,000 and 120,000 words.

    As far as manuscript format is concerned, look first at potential publishers. Many post manuscript guidelines. In general, the most commonly preferred format is a 12 point fixed-width serif font (Courier New is widely recommended), Letter sized paper (8.5" x 11"), 1" margins on all sides. Courier is often considered much more readable than Times New Roman. The text should be left-aligned (ragged right), and numbering begins after the title page.

    Short pieces generally do not require a cover page. Instead, the title and auther (pen name) appear at the top of page 1. As always, check your publisher's submission guidelines to see whether a title page is requested.

    As for the pace of the writing, there is no easy answer. It depends on your own writing style, but also upon what the readers expect in your genre.


    Paragraph format should be double spaced, with no leading or trailing vertical spacing, and with a 0.5" first line indent.

    Each page except the title page should have a header that contains the author's last name (pen name), condensed title (some publishers suggest all caps), and page number. When submitting a hardcopy manuscript, it should be printed single-sided unless the publisher specifies otherwise.

    Before submitting, check that publishers's guidelines and make appropriate adjustments. The above settings will meet many publishers' guidelines and will require minimal changes for most others.
     
  3. NyMichael20
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    NyMichael20 Member

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    Thanks a lot! It's a long time until I'm anywhere near publication but the tips are a great help!
     
  4. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Finding the right pacing is not always easy and it will come the more you write. Look at novels similar to the ones you want to write and study their pacing. That should help at first.
     
  5. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    The average novel length (for authors who aren't well-known, at least) is closer to 80,000 words than 120,000 words. Obviously this varies, especially depending upon genre, but I'd say if you aim for 80,000 words, you'll be right on target. Many publishers don't want to deal with stories much longer than that...it costs more to print them, after all, requiring a greater financial investment when the reality is that most midlist books from large publishers will never sell more than 10,000 to 20,000 copies.

    So my advice is definitely don't worry about inflating your word count. The closer you come to hitting the 80,000 words end of that spectrum, the better your chances of being published (all things being equal, of course). My first drafts used to come in closer to the 100,000+ words mark, but as I've learned to tighten my prose and effectively tell a story, I rarely need that many words to get the job done.

    You've already gotten good advice about formatting your manuscript. Publishers are very picky about this, so it's important to follow whatever guidelines are laid out.

    As far as pace, there's nothing wrong with keeping your prose tight and fast-paced (in fact, that's a good thing). But make sure you're allowing your story to unfold through the dialogue and actions of your characters, rather than injecting your authorial voice and reciting a list of events: "Bob did this. Then that happened. By the end of the day, Bob's mission was a success." It's that old show vs. tell adage. Show the story being played out by the characters...don't just tell the reader what happens.

    Hope that helps!
     
  6. NyMichael20
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    NyMichael20 Member

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    Thanks all of you!
     
  7. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    Don't worry at all about page count at all. The page count and font will look completely different once the publishers have finished with it. For a manuscript, a 12 point font with one-inch margins is usually a good choice, with a font like Courier (in which all characters take up the same amount of space). And do everything in the same size and font; don't try to decorate the title or chapter names or anything like that. That's something that the publisher worries about. The word count is the only important measurement you should worry about.

    The important thing is that it looks clear and professional when it's submitted, preferably with a typewritten look.
     

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