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Evidence of a misspent youth

According to various pages that came up when I Googled, the average novel is between 60,000 and 100,000 words. Now, I've been saying I need to cut a quarter, maybe a third out of my old '93 novel, Dis/inhibition, to make it marketable.

OMG, so wrong.

Just out of curiosity, I did a word count on the 43 chapters of this little tome.

220,873 words.

Did I mention it was over-written?


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 25th, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
That's a whole lot of words!
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:17 pm (UTC)

Apr. 25th, 2009 09:40 am (UTC)
You could make it a trilogy :). On the other hand 200k words, is that not about the standard size of Stephen King novel?
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:18 pm (UTC)
Is it?
Apr. 25th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
Desperation is 701 pages long and with an average 250 words per page, it should be about 170k words long
Apr. 25th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
Best-selling authors can get away with that stuff. "New writers" can't.
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
You never counted them before, after it was finished? That is surprising too!
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)
I recall counting them, and I recall it being closer to 100,000.

::Brain cramp::
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
Not impressed. ;o)

After I cut my 1988 novel about in half and put a ending on it to try to sell it, it was still around 150,000 words. The whole this wasn't as long as Les Miserables but it was a good deal longer than War and Peace and some how not quite in their league!
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:25 pm (UTC)
That actually makes me feel better.

Lucky for me, I spent the last five years since I set my old novel aside learning how to trim my fiction!
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC)
My teachers always described my writing as too terse, but that was all before I went to grad school. I wasn't paying any attention to the length of the novel till it was too late.
Apr. 25th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
The first time I workshopped a chapter from this novel, I was told, "it read like a screen play," and that was NOT a compliment. It was too thin, all dialogue and action, with very little description or introspective passages. So part of my learning process as a writer was to expand it in the next draft with what was missing. And of course, like often happens when you are learning something, I went way overboard in the opposite direction with unnecessary description and introspection. But my guess was that cutting that down would amount to eliminating a third or a fourth of the text. Not over *half*. Yikes.
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC)
Les Miserables is overrated. For that matter, so is War and Peace.
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
I read maybe 60% of Les Mis before I decided it wasn't really worth it. But, I've read War and Peace around a dozen times, about half of those in Russian. It does peter out toward the end as Tolstoy gets more bogged down in his then developing philosophy of life, but otherwise it's an amazing piece of writing.
Apr. 25th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC)
facing the same issue with Machiavelli Moon. Okay it's still about 100,000 words shorter than this but to fix the issues with it, it'll creep way up in the word count. head desk
Apr. 25th, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC)
Luckily for me, my writing improves when I trim out the excess words. But it's going to be a huge project. Won't be able to even consider it until after TD is finished.
Apr. 25th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC)
i can't blame you there. my problem is probably harder, trying to find ways to make the villians more villanous
Apr. 25th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
Actually, that's one of the issues in my new story. I had this villanous group all planned out, then nixed it because they were so two-dimensional. It's hard to make the bad guys truly "bad" and also believable.
Apr. 25th, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC)
no argument there. Especially when you're dealing with super powered heroes as well.

should think harder on how people like Butcher does it
Apr. 25th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)
I often think of the old philosophy espoused by Quark on Deep Space Nine, "I'm not a thief, I'm a businessman." Bad guys rarely see themselves as bad, they always have their reasons. The work is to give them reasons that don't require them to be absolute nutters.
Apr. 25th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
excellent point
Apr. 26th, 2009 01:23 am (UTC)
you also need to give bad guys a way to be redeemable. They don't have to be redeemed, but the reader should not just root against the goals of the bad guys, but for them as people. Love the sinner, hate the sin.

That's how you turn cut-outs into three dimensional characters.
Apr. 26th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
Depends on the genre. If it is high fantasy, larger word counts are acceptable. If you are talking urban fantasy, Rachel Vincent's contracts are for 115,000. Most are around 90,000. 60,000 is awfully short for anything genre, unless we are talking category romance. Aiming for 75,000 to 90,000 is about right.

Word counts become important in queries because it shows you know the expectations of your genre. Bookstores don't like big books because they take up space and mean less books they can carry.

Stephen King says you should cut at least 10% out of any MS.
Apr. 26th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
This one is not sff, it's regular fiction. If it is genre at all, it's GLBT, although it's about a lot more than that.
Apr. 26th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
What you might want to look at is publishing it as a serial with an epublisher.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )