1. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    Size matters?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Man in the Box, Oct 15, 2011.

    Hopefully you didn't click this thread thinking something you shouldn't. :p

    Well basically the idea is that there are many, many books, especially in the fantasy genre, which span across hundreds and hundreds of pages, which has made me wonder: is it really necessary to tell a good story with that many words and pages (in terms of a novel, of course, I'm not speaking of short stories and the like)? Will you, as an author, be looked down upon if your work barely goes further than 200 MS Word pages? Of course, it's a rather superficial thing to worry about, but it got me thinking because of me and what I write... I'm usually not too descriptive in my scenes and don't waste time with what would seem to me as superfluous details. I simply can't get myself to write flowery stuff about every single ordinary action my characters make, and about the scenery on top of that, and therefore my work ends up with not that many pages...

    I've considered the idea of being at fault here because I'm not doing enough to transmit to my reader the world I created, but it would be nice to hear what other people have to say. I also admit my fears stem from the fact I'm not a published author and have started to write fiction only recently.

    So, what are your thoughts on this subject?
     
  2. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I would say the reason "longer" books tend to sell better is because literally there are more pages... which means more entertainment per dollar in theory. However, I've seen books sell well that are 200 pages long.

    I'm new to this game like you and I've only written like 6-7 stories I would consider decent, complete work and every story I've written was longer than the last. So honestly, I'd just say keep going at it and you'll probably get to the point where you can write 600 page books.
     
  3. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    For me personally, as a reader, I like my books long as possible and I love descriptions. I also love long book series.

    With that said, I mainly read high fantasy. Some of my favorite books range from 300k - 400k words. They also range from 600 - 1k+ published pages.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your question seems to assume that all books have X amount of plot, where X never changes, and that extra length comes from flowery descriptions and so on. In my experience, it's not usually about flowery descriptions; longer books tend to have more plot.

    ChickenFreak
     
  5. Gracia Bee
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    Gracia Bee Member

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    As that saying goes "Quality not Quantity."
     
  6. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I agree 100% with all of this.
     
  7. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    So basically (you'll notice I overuse "basically", not in my written work though), my problem is... plot? Well, I think it's a bit hard to estimate how many pages I'm going to write, since whenever I sit in front of the computer I think of more and more ideas, but with what I have already I *should* be able to exceed at least 200 pages, which, for a first attempt, is good IMO.

    I'm currently reading a 450-page-long novel and I'm analysing it to get some clues. I've noticed that the plots and subplots branch like a tree and he ends up introducing characters that I would deem unnecessary, but I believe that what he's doing increases the immersion factor by quite a bit, so I'm kind of following on his shoes (hopefully there's no patent on writing techinques :p ). I think that, as I evolve with my story, I'll be able to enrichen my plot.

    @Jhunter: Love your sig! It's the absolute truth.
     
  8. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    Size doesn't matter. 450+ plus pages of dreck is still 450+ pages of dreck, and is in no way better than 250 pages of concise, well crafted story. If you are writing something that is going to span hundreds of pages, then you'd have to make sure you have enough story to cover it and that there are no thin patches or even sub plots that are irrelevant to the main plot. In other words, it would be harder to tie up loose ends and make for a satisfactory ending with the 450+ page variant than the 250 page one. The size of the story shouldn't be the governing factor, but rather, questions like, "Have I told the story the best possible way that I can?" and "Is what I have here as my finished draft the finished piece?" I have read some nice, neat concise 180 page novels that are all story, no fluff. And let's just say they answer yes to both of the above questions, whereas a few in the 450+ pages categories have not fared so well.

    Someone else said quality rather than quantity. I agree wholeheartedly.
     
  9. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    Oh, look. A double post. How pompous of me ;-)

    Does editing this put up my post count?
     
  10. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I remember having a discussion with someone on a topic somewhat related to this. We drew no conclusions, but we did toss around a few ideas. Over the past century, books in general have seemed to grow in size/page count, especially with fantasy and science fiction. There are a few exceptions, of course, but we thought it might have something to do with how a large book feels in your hand compared to a smaller book. Holding and feeling a larger book--the weight, the size--may send a subliminal message that there's more there, more story, deeper characters, and so on (doesn't mean it is there, just the message it sends), while a smaller book may send a message saying there's less of all. I don't know if that idea holds any value, especially now with e-books where books and pages have no size or weight. It was just an idea we were tossing around: if you're going to pay $10-15 for a book, wouldn't you want it to be "more?"

    Personally when writing, I feel it necessary to use as many pages as the story requires, depending what audience you are writing it for. The plot from a book written for adults that spans 1,000 or so pages, in a lot of cases, could be reduced to a few hundred if you wrote the same book for tweens. I think audience, marketing, plot, story, and so on all play a part in the size of a book, but it's the writing that matters. If you can write the same four hundred-page story in two hundred pages and that's what you want to do, go for it.
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hate books that are too long and I avoid those over 400 pages usually. The ideal for me is between 260-380, more than 400ish really puts me off reading a book because Im a slow reader and I know I will struggle to finish it. I was actually wondering the same thing after reading a previous post, and thinking that fantasy writers maybe need to learn to trim their copy a little. I never read fantasy, but they almost always seem to be these thick, heavy books with tiny letters. There must be a way of telling even a complicated story with less than 500 pages, at least that is what i think.
     
  12. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    But see, all the people I know that read high fantasy want the books to be "thick, heavy and with tiny letters."

    And I do not mean this with any offense at all, but if you want a short easy to read fantasy book, pick up a YA novel. I have read plenty of those that are just a enjoyable as my "thick, heavy and tiny letters" counterparts.
     
  13. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL, I realize fantasy-lovers like it like that, but As for me it kind of scares me off from exploring the genre, I wouldn't mind giving them a try, but they look way too demanding for me.
     
  14. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    Perverted thoughts are healthy, bro/sis.

    Only insecure people believe size matters - its the performance you put on for your audience that matters. Both short and fast as well as long and slow rides have a place.

    For example, I have taken more away from a 350 page book (Mogworld) than I have a 4,176 page series (Hirsute Potter). Then again, I have fallen in love with a 560 page book (Crime and Punishment) while I hate a 142 page book (The Heart of Darkness). Both rides were just amazing in their own right, having any more or less meat on them would not make a difference.
     
  15. Victoria Baye
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    Victoria Baye Member

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    I used to love long fantasy books, because the point of fantasy was escapism. I wanted that world to be infinitely descriptive, and I wanted to stay in it for a while, so I preferred long books and/or series. However, now, I'm not as big a fan of fantasy, and I would be more apt to pick up a shorter book. But people like my brother, who are die hard fantasy fans, don't really even look at books that aren't 600+ pages. It depends on your audience, but to appeal to huge fantasy fans longer works would be preferred, I think.
     
  16. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Well, that is why I said you try out a YA fantasy or two, they are just as enjoyable to me if they are well written.
     
  17. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'll give it a thought. thanks.
     
  18. TheWritingWriter
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    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

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    If you write a really good book, and your reader loves it, they'll never want it to end. Why not give them what they want? However, there is a difference between milking it & giving the reader what they want.
     
  19. Silver. Fox
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    Silver. Fox Member

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    "As that saying goes "Quality not Quantity.""

    I'd have to say ^this^

    However...I would have to say that as far as books go, higher quality tends to have a higher quantity. That's not to say having a low quality isn't high quality of course...
     
  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Eh... I don't think that I necessarily agree with you here. Do you have any examples, or would you mind offering some clarification?
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's not really true... as with that other, more personal 'does size matter?' matter, quality comes in all sizes...
     

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