Wednesday, 27 January 2016

How many words?

All sorts of word counts.
Over the holidays I have been catching up with some of the stock piled reading matter on my Kindle. A selection of Christmas romances and an assortment of others acquired over the year. As I was chomping my way through, the differences in length were quite interesting. A novella can be around 30,000 words, and I have seen definitions suggesting it is something under 40,000. Some of the novellas I read were probably 50,000 - 60,000 words, while some of my stash that were billed as full length books were not much longer, at around 70,000. I would aim for around 90,000 for a  full length romantic suspense. A family saga or historical can easily run to 120,000 words or more - and I think a lot of readers would feel cheated if they didn't. Novice writers are told not to go above this figure as agents and publishers will be reluctant to take a chance on an unknown with a very big book. Which is one of the reasons my family saga of the South Wales docklands - first of a trilogy at 140,000 and counting - is languishing in the filing cabinet in the hall. I have plans to re-use the best bits for something else - when the 48 hour day is invented, and I'm able to get myself cloned. The clone will do the boring stuff, like housework and I can write all day. Hah! Fantasy land - again.

I don't really know where this ramble is going, except I that I am currently wondering how long the new project will turn out to be, if I can get it off the grid, I'm telling myself it might be a novella, but I don't really KNOW. And with all the complications it is busy inventing for itself (See last week's post.) I have a feeling it might be getting itself out of hand. The novella that is not romantic suspense, which I really do hope will see the light of day this summer, is hovering around the 58,000 mark at the moment. At the moment. Will it grow? Maybe.

I'm predisposed to write longer rather than shorter, because of that habit of making stuff complicated. More room to develop, more chance to add layers. Layers, not padding. More fun with characters. More hair raising plot twists.

I complicate things, which means that I also write slowly. When I read of writers who manage four books a year. Four!!! I have to go and lie down for a while. Green with envy too. But if that's four at 70,000 words ... A little less intimidating. Just a little.

We're all different. As long as the story is good, it probably doesn't matter how long the book turns out to be.

I'll just have to wait and see how long the new idea wants to be. I hope it doesn't take too long ...


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  2. Interesting post and I want a housework clone too! Novellas are a challenge to write - too much story and it feels rushed and crammed in but too little and they're just sort of nothing :) Angela Britnell

    1. Hi Angela That's the dilemma - trouble is we both have a weakness for stories :)