1. Suffering-is-Beauty
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    Suffering-is-Beauty Member

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    Word count

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Suffering-is-Beauty, Apr 1, 2013.

    So I'm just curious. How many word are generally in a novel because when I looked it up the numbers I got seemed so small. 130,000 is an epic novel-things like that. Just wondering what everyone thinks.

    And on that note who thinks 200,000 is to long for a single story of inspiration through suffering. Never read the book Pursuit of Happiness was based on, but if it was 200,000 words would that be to long for a story like that?

    I know stories should be as long as they need to be to tell it, but I'm talking about others picking up the book to read.
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are novels that are 200K words long. There are novels that are 300K or longer, as well. However, most novels are closer to the 100K range, with novels from new authors generally being between 80K and 120K long. Some genres can be on the longer end (fantasy/sci fi) and some tend to be shorter (romance). YA is usually on the shorter end, often less than 80K.

    I'm not sure exactly what a "single story of inspiration through suffering" is, but 200K seems long. Again, if you're an established author, you can get away with a longer word count. But if you're trying to get an agent, and you're an unpublished author, 200K would be a very tough sell.
     
  3. Suffering-is-Beauty
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    Suffering-is-Beauty Member

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    That's kind of what I was thinking, and when I said single story I meant that it's about one person and the book follows only one person unlike Tom Clancy's books which are very long multi faceted stories.

    I'm just not sure how or if I even want to quicken the pace as it spans about fifteen years of life.
    guess I"ll just deal with the tough sell

    Thanks for the info.
     
  4. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I pretty much have to underscore chicagoliz's comments. If you are a well-established author with a strong following, you can get away with presenting your agent/publisher with a finished project of half a million words and expect that it will be published and heavily marketed. After all, you are "THE Big Name Author That Everyone Knows and Your Books Have Been Turned Into MOVIES!"

    Those of us with less muscle behind our names would have a far more difficult time getting an agent to even look at it once they read the word count. The very quick reply would be, "Too long. Can't sell it. People won't buy it."

    And they would, for the most part, be correct.

    Also, I'm always a little wary of the label "inspirational", particularly with novice writers. Is it truly inspirational? Why? What, exactly, would it inspire the reader to? In most cases, a book of 200,000 words merely means that the author hasn't finished paring it down. There is usually an excess of words that could be eliminated. There tend to be some rigid (though not inflexible) guidelines for word counts. Generally, you can bet on inspirationals clocking between 75,000 and 90,000 tops. And you can get away with a shorter piece far more readily than a longer one.

    One of my favorite writing quotes - on paring an overlong (200,000 word project) down to 90k, "Eliminate the boring parts."

    Now, having said that, I must confess that I do have one project in the mega regions or verbiage. It maxes out at around 165k - still an inordinately large volume. It is a fantasy and at its tedious best (worst?) topped out at around 280,000. Then, once I got past the "agony" of 'butchering' my 'beautiful' words. I accepted that, in order to make it readable to others, I had to find the 'boring' parts and cut them out. In the end, it made for a stronger, tighter project and imminently more marketable.

    Bottom line: If you are a just starting out writer, I wouldn't try to sell a 200,000 word project. The standard thought process at this point is, "But this one is different. It HAS to be this long! And it's a GREAT story." And you may well have a great story. But it's most likely a great 100,000 word story (or less) that just needs to be cleaned up, fine tuned, and honed to its best form. That means you have to divorce your emotions from the editing process. Find the spots where you can consolidate actions, conversations, etc. or eliminate them altogether. Go back to the drawing board. Read your story for the fifth or sixth time and see where you are skipping paragraphs or pages. That's where to begin your tightening up process.
     
  5. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Publishers would rather see a first time novel in the 65 through 85 K range.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In most genres, the preferred word count is 80,000 to 120,000 words, heavily weighted toward the 80,000 to 100,000 word range. For YA novels, the word counts run somewhat lower. Always check the publisher's submission guidelines.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto liz and cog... they're right... as usual...

    and saved me a lot of typing...
     

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