1. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

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    The Advised Length of a Debut Novel

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Seren, Jul 13, 2017.

    I'm just finishing up the second draft of what I hope will be my debut traditionally published novel some day. I know that I shouldn't really be worrying about this so early in the process, but I can't help it. While I usually have a problem with writing too many words, I'm worried that this story has too few. I started off with 60,000, and now I've got 50,000. In some people's minds, that might not even count as a novel...

    If I tried submitting it to agents in the future, do you think that would be a turn-off for them? Perhaps I'd be better off treating a different, longer project as being my potential first published book. Try as I might, I can't really bump the word count up on this one. My beta readers, when they get it, might prove me wrong and make lots of suggestions, but I can't think of anything that would add to the story as well as the words. I don't want to drag it out just for the sake of making a longer book.
     
  2. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    That's definitely very svelte for a novel. It could be a real cracker, absolutely, but to me that is definitely a bit skinny. God know what the publishing industry would think of it though. Mostly people talking about being over not under. Obviously there must be some kind of cut off point in terms of being under sized but if you are under it I can't say.
     
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  3. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    Some of it would depend on the genre, but for traditional publishing, for print versions, 50,000 words is on the low end of the novel spectrum. However, weakening the story through adding unnecessary content can be counter productive.

    Finishing the novel and getting beta reader in put might very well prove handy in solving the dilemma.
     
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  4. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    Yeah, I'd agree on that.

    Particularly if you've found yourself deliberately trying to keep things compact you may have low-balled yourself a bit and the book could use a bit of stretching out; just more space to breathe around certain plot points for example. I think for most books you can reasonably add a decent number of words without diluting the story, just taking the time to expand on the plot points that you really like, give some more space to the characters development etc. So see how a reader gets on with it.
     
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  5. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

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    Thank you for your advice! I haven't deliberately made it compact. It just sort of happened. But, hopefully, my beta readers will say, "I know you thought that scene was great, but I kind of wanted more detail on this, and this, and this..." :)
     
  6. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    Knowing when to say when is a skill you only develop by doing. Especially on your first project you're still honing your sense for this stuff. It's easy to, whether deliberately or not, stop yourself in just the same way as it's easy to go over. In the end it's the readers perspective that matters. If they think it's best as it is then I see no reason not to trust them, but wait and see what they say.
     
  7. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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  8. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

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  9. Thundair

    Thundair Senior Member

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    I also struggle with word count. My present work was so wordy that it wouldn't let the story move along, so I went back and pared it down by 10000 words. Now I'm going back through it to add verbiage to bring the word count back up.
    In the story my MC called on an older lady named Miss Irene. The editor wanted to add that she had shear drapes on the windows, and doilies on the arms of the chair and she also offered him a cup of tea. My reply was, you deduced her environment and action just like my reader would, so I didn't change a thing. When I read a story I don't feel that all of that is necessary, so I guess that may be why it is hard for me to include it in the story.
    I got a tip from one of the people on this forum that you have your four senses, so what does you character see, feel, hear or taste. That is where I am now, looking for opportunities to define the environment. It is defiantly a learning process for me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  10. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    What the hell is our fifth sense? We have five, right? You've listed sight, touch, sound, taste... oh, smell!

    Okay, good. Don't forget smell. That can be a useful one.
     
  11. Thundair

    Thundair Senior Member

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    No wonder my stuff doesn't sell. Too many mistakes. Ha ha
    I guess it is too late to edit the boo boo out.
     
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