Novel length is something that’s really been on my mind lately. Probably because I’m about to hit the 45K mark on my story, which is a sure sign I’m past the halfway mark. According to the sense of pacing in my head (because I’m a lousy outliner, that sense is more reliable than anything I might have scratched down on paper, trust me), I’m zooming towards the conclusion. I’m estimating there’s probably about another 20-30K left to write, which is just fine by me. That fits perfectly with my original ballpark of 75K for this novel.
Problem is, 80K is usually the minimum for a novel, not a stretch goal.
You hear this myth spouted from almost every blog or young author or young editor at one point or another. The writers spouting this myth all go on about how a novel doesn’t have value, readers won’t like it, the author won’t feel complete unless the novel they write is at least 80,000 words long or longer.
Now granted, some stories need to be that long. Some.
But many, many novels are padded out and basically killed in quality because of this belief in a myth. I know, in over one hundred contracts with traditional publishing, I wrote to contract lengths and most of the books I wrote had to be padded out in one form or another to hit contract length.
via Killing Even More Sacred Cows of Publishing: #1… Novels Must Be A Certain Length |.
I admit, I don’t see eye to eye with Mr. Smith on a lot of things (meh, happens), but even someone you don’t always agree with can make good points. This is one of them. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still not a big fan of the indie publishing route (mark those words, I’ll eat them one day), and I haven’t done the research to confirm his rationale, but the fact remains that making a story longer because that’s how long they are is silly. As a writer I am focussed on telling the best story I can, whether that story is less than a thousand words, 50K, or 200K. The length should be determined only by how many words it takes to tell a story, not by (if true) a printer.
I’ve been aware for some time that my novels are on the short side. I like to tell the story and get out. Maybe I don’t have this down right, or maybe (just maybe) I like for the reader to have something to think about when they’re done. Play a little make believe, imagine what’s next. I’d rather you got through my book in a short amount of time and either hungered for more, or went off and did something else, than to drag you through a thousand pages and leave you exhausted and voided afterward.
Yes, I read (and sometimes review) those doorstopper books. Done well, they are amazing escapes. I haven’t the words to do them well, and you wouldn’t want to read something that I tried to force into being the “right” length.
In other news, the writing continues and the story progresses. The dark things are about to come to light in my tale of a small northern town vs a Donald Sutherland classic remix.