1. Saralyn
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    Saralyn Member

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    Torn about word count

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Saralyn, Jul 1, 2015.

    So, I've been working on my first book for awhile now. I'm estimating that it will be around 33k words once I get a new section typed as I'm trying to add more content. I feel like I can possibly get to the 40k novel mark, but it stresses me out. I'm always worrying about my books length even though I feel like my story is good. There's going to be a second book in the series (possibly more) and I feel like I can't add that to my first book because of the huge event that is going to take place at the end. Thoughts on word count? This has really been eating me up.
     
  2. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know that feeling.

    Correct me if I am wrong. But you are worried people like publishers might judge the word count and not the story?

    I think while a valid worry it shouldn't affect you too much at the moment. Estimations can be off. Also once you write it, new scenes and ideas may come to you. Also once you get people beta reading this all can happen again.

    I had a book drafted at 30k. One beta readers ideas and now I think it will be more like 80-100 k once I get it redrafted.

    Does that make sense?
     
  3. Saralyn
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    Saralyn Member

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    I already finished it but had to go back and beef it up some. I'd love to try to get it published and want to do everything in my power to have any chance, no matter how slim it may be. I want to know I gave it my all. Since I've written a good chunk of the second books outline I'm going to be dropping more foreshadowing throughout the book. I'm still trying to brainstorm ideas without watering down my content.
     
  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh?

    Have you had anyone beta read? I think that is the next needed step. To see if you conveyed the message you intended.
     
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  5. Saralyn
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    Saralyn Member

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    I've only had a few select "friends" read parts of it. They never finish it because of life or just putting it off. I don't know anything about beta-readers. What exactly do they do and where do you find them?
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Word counts fall in the 80k-120k range for first-time authors. It's good to follow this guideline when publishing novels. Publishers don't usually take on works that fall in the 30k-40k range. Your best bet would be to revise heavily once you've finished writing it and bring the word count down to turn your current work into a short story (roughly speaking, under 7500 words). From what I've seen and from what others on this forum have said, trying to beef something up to get the desired word count almost never works.
     
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  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It's a short novel, there's nothing wrong with not writing a novel. If you want to publish, they are selling, mostly self published but I've seen publishers that cater to the short novel eBook market. Or you could write two of them to make one book.
     
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  8. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am poor on forum rules so don't ask me when but at some point you can try to find beta readers on here.
    A beta reader is someone that reads your full book with the goal of seeing what you did right and what you did wrong in order to help improve the book. Indeed I think a needed step in getting a book to its full potential.
     
  9. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does this apply to general fiction as well? A very few sources seem to say 120k is the upper limit, but most sources I've found (on the net) say it's 100k max. I would love to be wrong.
     
  10. Saralyn
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    Saralyn Member

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    I'll never turn my hard work into a short story. This is a part of me, not just words on paper.
     
  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree. Writing is express, art and a reflection of yourself. Which is why I was suggesting you don't worry about the titles at this time. Write, have fun and be happy. Work at it and make it beautiful and what it wants to be. Then once it is there, let what ever label it is be applied to it. If that makes any sense?
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    The upper limit of 120k is more for genres like fantasy or sci-fi. General fiction is 80k-100k.
     
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  13. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    That's all well and good, but the reality is that getting a publisher to take on a 40k word piece is tough. Publishing is ultimately a business, and some sacrifices have to be made. Just something to consider.

    Of course, self-publishing is always an option.
     
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  14. Saralyn
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    Saralyn Member

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    I might just have to bite the bullet and combine the books as much as I didn't want to. Was hoping I could do a series of smaller novels.
     
  15. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    That seems a bit harsh on short stories.

    Anyway, you are going to be in the novella range, seems like. I'm sure it's not your dream, but a lot of magazines are open to publishing novellas, and there are more traditional options as well. Plenty of well-known works are novellas - The Metamorphosis, The Little Prince, The Time Machine, Dorian Gray, Animal Farm, Coraline, The Bicentennial Man. And like GingerCoffee said, shorter fiction tends to be fairly popular in selfpub circles. There's nothing wrong with novellas.

    My advice would be to focus more on the story than the wc. Adding words for the sake of padding is likely to damage the quality of your story. No one wants to get through a shortish novel and still go "man, that dragged on and on". Unless you're coming up with real new content that's improving the plot, there's no real point to.
     
  16. Saralyn
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    Saralyn Member

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    I have nothing against short stories, considering that's what I started out writing, but I'm not going to chop down my novel that I cherish very much and what holds my sanity together.
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You do recognized this is a mixed message, right? :confused:

    First, a short novel isn't a short story. It's between a novel and a short story.

    Second, your story is what it is, you can't add 50K of word padding into a semi-finished story.

    But, on the other hand, if it's not finished and you are looking to expand the story line, perhaps that is what you are asking about.
     
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  18. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I don't intend to sound judgmental, but I guess I don't see why you're okay with pushing to extend the wc, but obviously against trimming it at all? Idk. Plainly it's your work and you know what'll work for it better than anyone, but any form of editing is going to change it, whether it's adding some much-needed description here or cutting pointless scene there, and you should be prepared to have to make tough changes. I feel you; it sucks :\ But it's what you have to do.

    But, yeah, there's a big difference between between a short novel / novella and a short story. There'd be no chopping down - a novella is just what a 33k work would qualify as.
     
  19. ChickenFreak
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    It sounds to me like this is a novella. If I were you, I would let it be the length that it wants to be, without perhaps damaging it by trying to fatten it up. There's no harm in submitting it, but at the same time you could start working on a piece of a more salable length. A novella is, I think, likely to be easier to sell once you have some other items published.
     
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  20. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I also have a novella, which two of my readers told me to publish. I never bothered trying. It's not a big deal.
     
  21. GingerCoffee
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  22. jannert
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    It's very hard to help because we haven't actually seen what you've written. We're only dealing in generalities about word count.

    If you've fulfilled the new member requirements, which include posting 20 times and doing two critiques for people in the Workshop section of the forum, you might want to post a piece of your own work for folks to take a look at for you. Maybe members might have suggestions.

    What is it about your story that makes you want it to be a novel, not a short story? If it's a big story, filled with many events, and characters, doing lots of things over a period of time—and this is all building slowly towards a big ending—then you probably do have a novel on your hands. If that's the case, you may not be fleshing it out enough.

    It could be that you're skimming the surface, and telling us your story as fast as you can. She looks like this, did this, met him, he looks like this, did that, something awful happened, they won the battle, the end. Are you telling us what happens to your characters, without giving us time to get to know them the way we would get to know real people, by showing us what kinds of things they do, how they feel, how they act—and letting us draw our own conclusions about the kind of people they are? Or are you just telling us what they are like and moving quickly on to the exciting bits? If so, slowing your story down and making your important scenes come alive for the reader is NOT padding your story. It's probably what you need to do.

    We won't know till we see a sample of what you've written, though. Are you able to post in the Workshop?
     
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  23. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    If you want to keep it at 40k publish online, and if enough people like it (ie you have money to spend on marketing correctly) then you may force the hand of a publisher to sign you up, just because they want some of the money you are bringing in.

    Someone on this forum posted a link to a series of lectures called writeaboutdragons or some such thing. In one of these lectures the advice was combine your novels. Do not worry about a series until you are published. Put all your good ideas in that first book. When your published and selling, that is the time to start outlining a follow up.
     
  24. rincewind31
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    That sounds just a little bit precious. Better to write a tight short story than a longer version that's padded out with filler. If I were you I'd combine your first two books rather than pad.
     
  25. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What genre are you writing in? If it's one that has a vibrant e-first publisher community, you might not have too much trouble selling a novella (assuming it's good, obviously!). But I wouldn't count on seeing a novella in a bookstore.

    Honestly, though, most people don't sell their first books. So it probably makes sense to write this with an eye to developing your skills rather than matching a publisher's expectations - and then if it DOES get published, that's a bonus!
     
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