1. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    When You have a big book

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Duchess-Yukine-Suoh, Dec 7, 2013.

    I have made a little outline for my story and am estimating it to be over 800 pages. It's a fast-paced romantic dramady (with a good number of couples) so I'm not worried about boring my readers, but when they see how big it is, will it be offputting?
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    As a kid, I ALWAYS picked up the big books.
    Big books = better.
    I know it's not true now that I'm older but it doesn't matter the size of the book. Only the content.

    Also, don't stress about length ever.
    It's a waste of time.
    Just write and see how big it actually becomes.
    It will always be different from what you planned.
     
  3. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    ...unless you want to be published.

    For a first-time author, agents aren't going to want try selling a book written by somebody unknown, and the publishers won't risk it. There are exceptions, of course, but very few. Notice how J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series got slowly thicker with each book? It's because readers begin to trust you, and in turn so will publishers and agents. Of course, it also depends on genre; fantasy and sci-fi books are far more likely to be picked up by publishers because length comes with the genre (generally). However, I don't think it would hurt writers to write a book on the shorter side anyway. In your case, I find it doubtful that a publisher would want to buy a big manuscript like that off you, as dramas and romance novels tend to be quite short.

    Remember, though, that writers should write the story that comes to them, and if your book stays on the larger side even after a couple of major edits, then perhaps that's just how the story was meant to be written. Story outlines can always change, so I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being shorter. Write your first draft, wait, write a second draft, wait, look at it, and see what you think. Then, if you really believe that it's how your story should be told, don't let anyone say anything different. There are always exceptions to publishing, and you could be one of them. But don't rely on this, otherwise you will be disappointed. ;)

    So yeah, that's my advice: write the story first, and forget about all those publishing and printing rules. Worry about those only when you have a good piece of fiction on your notebook/PC screen. :)
     
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  4. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    @Thomas Kitchen
    I didn't mean it the way you took it.
    Though, I like what you said about it, not sure how true that is but eh.

    I just mean don't worry about how long your chapter is or how big your book is once the first draft is finished.
    If you stress about filling 800 pages, a reader will see a forced and stretched out book once they hit those parts.
    It has to be more natural then just "I need 20 more pages, what else can I stuff in there?" , you know what I mean?
     
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  5. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    I agree with Mr. Kitchen.
     
  6. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Nah, only if you want it published and printed, then it might be a problem. But since we've got ebooks and Kindle now, I have hope in big books -- 'cause I love big books! (my eyes just mis-read that exclamation very inappropriately).

    It could also be a series, though, however it works best for you :)

    Exactly what has happened with my and T's WIP. We've edited and revised it several times, tried to cut down the word count, but so far to no avail (luckily it belongs to a genre that's full of supernovels anyway). It's just a big, fat book. Not sure if it'd span 800 pages, but it's still past the recommendation for a first-time writer. Oh well...
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    The publishing industry uses word count, not the number of pages, to talk about the length of a book. As a reader, large books don't intimidate me, but publishers have specific guidelines they like to stick to. They may not be willing to take on such a large book from an unknown writer. Here's a good page from Writer's Digest for learning about the recommended word count for each genre.
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that is very individual how readers react to a book that heavy, if your question concerned the readers and not agents. I don't know what agents would say actually, but I think Thomas Kitchen has a point.
    As for the readers, I think it's definitely easier to sell a 800 page novel for an established author (say, Stephen King...) than for an un-known one.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    This is definitely true. If you are contemplating a project for publication, traditional publishers typically are interested in first novels ranging in length of 80,000 to 120,000 words (preferably not more than 100,000), depending somewhat on genre. If you're writing YA fiction, I think the range is more like 50,000 to 80,000.

    My first attempt at a novel was over 400,000 words, though with additional editing after some helpful critiques, I got it down to about 140,000. It was a great learning experience. My advice is to write it however you want to write it in order to gain the experience.
     
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  10. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    The thought had come to me also concerning a series. I wrote a novel. It was about 350 pages, 1.5 line spacing. Later I wrote a sequel that turned out to be the first in the trilogy. It's about 350 pages, but, in re-writing the original novel, now the second, it grew to over 500 pages. I anticipate the third book will exceed that considerably, however it will be a lot like a gathering of short stories where someone can just open the book somewhere and start reading.

    Will it sell? Dunno! Whether 300, 500 or 800 pages. The relief of some decent artwork may be the key to attract readers to so many words.
     
  11. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I don't worry about it. Alesia is set up (if I do it this way) to be roughly 300 diary entries of varying length. How that will translate into pages? Who knows? Could be 400, could be 1,000. Long as people enjoy it, who cares!
     
  12. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    It depends on the story. Ask yourself whether each chapter or section keeps grabbing on to the next rung of the monkey bars or drops. If you can force it to drop without making the reader throw it at whatever that reader throws stuff at, you have a place to say "The End."
     
  13. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    The answer is simple. Not a chance of a publisher saying yes.

    No one but mom is seeking your name on the cover of a book, so that's one strike against because you will have to attract your audience through great reviews. Not comments on an Amazon page, but reviews good enough and seen by enough people that it will attract an audience.

    Next is that an 800 page book costs more than twice as much to edit as a 350 page book, and editing is the major expense in bringing a book to market. Why would they spend that much money on someone who has never attracted the kind of readership that would justify such an expenditure? Remember it also costs twice as much to ship, and fewer copies fit in the bookstore pocket.

    Unless you're a genius and have written a guaranteed best seller no publisher is going to commit that much money to a book that may or may not break even.

    The thing to do is to write a great normal length book and sell it, to show the publisher your writing will excite readers. Then toss that elephant at them.
     
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  14. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In all fairness, she did ask will readers find it offputting, not publishers. And she can always self-pub it for Kindle if/when she gets the project done.
     
  15. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In that case, the answer will vary from person to person.

    I'm not a reader of romance novels, but let's imagine for a second I were (God forbid) -- would I be put off? Yes, I think I would be. I doubt a book can be this long and fast-paced at the same time.

    I prefer a good average-sized novel - 300 pages tops. Preferably less.

    Again, the next person will come along and tell you something different.

    I'd just carry on writing for now and see where it takes you. If you have dreams of publishing 'traditionally', then it's a good idea to pull in the reins sooner rather than later, though.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013
  16. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    I'm happy reading anything from 50 pages on to 5 or 6 hundred. If the story is not moving along, the 5 or 6 hundred may end up 50 then unfinished. Required reading may be drudgery...
     
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  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    duchess...
    as one who's been an avid fiction reader for 7 decades, i would actually prefer an 800 page book by one of my favorite writers, to a short 300 pager... however, that's just me and applies only if i know the writer is good enough at his/her craft to provide me with a good read... but, as with 2 lengthy tomes i started and probably won't bother finishing [unless i just skim through to find out what happens], even really 'good' writers can lose me with stories bloated to boring proportions by unnecessary/irrelevant trivia tossed in to satisfy author conceit...

    in one, the author is showing off his jewishness by loading a story set in jerusalem with so darn much of his characters' religious routines and hebrew words [not even explained/translated], that the story keeps getting buried in all of that and doesn't reappear for several pages... in the other, by a truly great wordsmith and major favorite of mine, he allowed the subplots and surfeit of charactes to complicate things so badly that the thread of the story can't even be maintained, without charting it, to help keep everything/everybody straight... and, since i just want a good read, do not want to be forced to draw diagrams in order to find my way through it, there went another 700-800 pager...

    so, if the over-sizing of your ms is due to anything like that, i strongly suggest you pare it down to essentials plot-wise and be ruthless in editing, to do away with overwording, if you want anyone but friends and family to buy it and read it from beginning to end, without skimming past the junk...

    as for publishing it traditionally, if you're not intending to put it out on your own as an e-book, all above who say it won't be of interest to agents and paying presses are right... it won't...

    if you want to know whether it's tightly enough written, or can be cut down significantly, you can send me your first chapter and i'll be happy to give you some neutral feedback...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  18. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Publishers will hate it, possibly agents too, 'cause it'd probably be difficult to sell to publishers who hate long books when it comes to novice authors, but many readers will love the length. Maybe even more than half, since most people I've discussed this with, prefer long books over short ones. I do too; I'm just about to order a book that's 1030 pages long (or, rather, K orders it for me as a Christmas present... where's that damn heart smiley?), and I'm ecstatic about the length. It means I can just lose myself into that world for a good long while which is exactly what I want from a good story. If the book sucks, it doesn't matter how short or long it is, it'll still suck. If it's good, if it's short, it sucks. Give me a good, long book and I'm a happy camper.
     
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  19. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Duchess-Yukine-Suoh to be fair, most of literate human population have problems reading a "No Smoking" sign, so I guess they'd see 800 pages as a concept beyond comprehension. However, if you manage to hook your readers and engage their intelectual capacity, the page-count/ word-count should be your last worry.

    As for publishers: I'm afraid I'd agree with above posts that it could be a bit of a problem to find a willing publisher for a big book as a debut. However, don't fall for seemingly logical (but still fallacious) arguments on book-publishing industry.
    In defend of big giant 800+ pages books by new authors: Hallberg’s debut novel "City on Fire" is 900+ pages long (and he made a load of cash for it). And my favorite, New Zealander rookie writter Eleanor Catton's Booker-winning "The Luminaries" was her second novel, and is 800+ pages long (however, her true debut novel was around 300+ pages).
    But these are extremely good books - at least judging by critics (I can personally vouch only for Elie's :p). And authors are both well educated and experienced.

    So, I think you should weight your abilities and competence when starting a project of that magnitude - as you should when starting to write a 500 words flash fiction! Readers are your last worry - you are going to be your own worst enemy...
     
  20. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Something else to take into account: Each scene in a story will have rising tension that begins at or above the level of the previous scene. To understand why, think of a sword fight that continues for two hours. Exciting or not, the reader/viewer would become bored. They want something new, and more exciting to happen. In fact, we end scenes in disaster because unchecked they will quickly cross into the level of melodrama. And by ending the scene with the protagonist failing it gives that character a reason to "start over" with a new plan, which, being the bastards we are, we also disrupt.

    But if each scene is more filled with tension it will quickly get to the point where the entire universe is in danger and the story will become ludicrous. We can't simply present the protagonist with a new problem, which s/he solves, because that becomes too predictable. We get around that by braiding several aligned stories, and follow the various players till they meet in collision at the climax.

    What we need to avoid, though, is writing a long story that's long because it's simply a chronicle—a reporter following an interesting person as they live their life, where the drama is almost incidental, with no necessary connection to the protagonist's primary problem. It's a trap that new writers often fall into because all our training in school is to report events, not involve the reader emotionally. The result is often that we write the history of a fictional character rather than a story.
     
  21. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @JayG so instead of having just one ridiculous melodrama, you end up with six interwoven ridiculous melodramas which resolve each other in a ridiculously melodramatic way? :)
     
  22. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Really? Wow. You don't have creative writing in your schools? I find that hard to believe, to tell you the truth. What do the kids do in English classes? We wrote stories, and then we took extra courses in high school, read books and wrote our own shorts or novellettes or poems. Our high school teacher was a writer herself (like many first-language teachers).
    EDIT: this is not to say every kid who attends said classes can write.

    Anyway, I'm not sure what you mean by new writers often falling into the trap of reporting events. Is it like... They have their plot, and they have their grand quest, and they have the goals set up, and the two characters going all Ross and Rachel for each other, but still a new writer just ends up reporting it all like some piece of news? "Today Rass and Rochel rode their horses to the city of Magicalia. The sun was shining, the sky was cloudless, and the barley fields were golden. Magicalia was a big city, its most prominent features being the four spear-shaped towers that symbolized the four elements, the crisscrossing aqueducts, and the twenty-feet tall fortifications that surrounded the bustling city..."
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
  23. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    How many other novels have you written? Are you sure it's actually going to be ~ 800 pages?
     
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  24. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Believe it home girl. In primary and secondary education systems creative writing is basically an elective if your school is lucky enough to have it. Elementary classes teach primarily grammar and punctuation and may have a few short story opportunities, but most writing assignments are intros into forming good essays. In middle school, this is expanded on, along with the introduction of critical analysis. High school is all about critical analysis papers. Many are just call Literature and Composition or Language and Composition or Critical Reading and Writing or something like that. No matter what they are called, they are all generally geared towards writing better expository, persuasive, and/or analytical papers. You don't even learn that you can insert your own voice into essays until college (unless you have a good teacher), as it is not a part of the curriculum. In sum, Our schools teach writing for academia, with little thought to prose style, voice, or creative writing in general. :/

    The reason why many American students hate Poetry is because we are never taught to appreciate it, only explicate it and write about it, contriving strange interpretations from poems that seem all but ambiguous. There is next to no instruction on how to write a poem or on how it's form may contribute to it's affect or anything. :/ When it comes to short stories, it's all about literary analysis. What is the purpose of this story? What is the author saying? Here is some historical context, how might the author be examining such and such in society at this time? blah blah blah... All useful questions in the English field, but they are never brought into a more comprehensive scope to include anything about the language or construction of the story. For example, the 19th Century is considered the Age of the Novel. Many of the Classic novels were produced in that century as this new fiction writing form gained popularity. But no one asks how the way a Gothic novel's form may impact the way it was read... That's college level thinking. One might talk about minimalism in literature in 12th grade, but there will be no discussion of the writing style of Hemingway, Faulkner, and Carver. All we'd get is " these are minimalist's authors, let's examine the themes they wrote about." No mention of what actually makes their writing minimalists.

    But I'm now blurring the lines of college and high school education. In short, here in the states, creative writing is generally not something taught in core English classes. :p Sorry about that long mess above!
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
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  25. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Andrae Smith : Thanks for enlightening me. We had loads of analysis stuff too for English classes, but the first-language classes (be it Finnish or Swedish), especially in senior high (or upper secondary), centered quite heavily around story-telling. On the other hand, I'm not sure how helpful that was 'cause in my case those were Finnish classes, and the story-telling traditions and techniques may vary to a degree between cultures. And in any case, I've learned way more about crafting a story outside of school*. It just surprised me a bit since English is your first language so not using it to write stories in English classes sounds a bit strange...

    * two things I remember from school: the plot graphs (this is how you build tension, this is when you should release it etc.) and "Never ever end your story with 'and then s/he woke up. It was all a dream.'
     

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