about story length this week and when to admit that the novel you
thought you were writing is really a novella, or even a short story. If
you write short like I do, it happens more often than you’d think.
Honestly, 50,000 words (minimum for a short novel) is a *lot* to write
for me – because the plot has to keep moving that whole time, and it’s
hard to keep tension and conflict high with the sort of breakneck pace I
tend to like in romantic suspense.
which is supposed to be the second novel in my Fantasy Ranch series,
may end up being more of a novella unless I find a few spots that can
logically be stretched out in the revision stage. Considering I won’t
just add subplots or description to a story just for the heck of it,
that’s unlikely, although there are a few scenes missing that I’ll add
before I even start revising (I realized after I wrote past them that
they needed to be there).
try to keep my erotic romances to 8-10,000 words, the majority of them
end up stretching to 15,000 words or so…because it takes that many
words to realistically build the relationship. When you consider that,
if I spent 15,000 words building a relationship in a romantic suspense
novel, that would leave 35,000 words left for the “suspense” (read:
action/adventure) part in a 50k word novel. Which actually might be
about right, now that I think about it…
pause while true right-brain dominants everywhere cringe as I reduce my
story structure down to a simple math formula…sorry folks – it’s the
price I pay for not having a dominant side of the brain myself.
I’m not a fan of stretching a story just to reach a certain word count.
And thankfully, we don’t have to these days. Sure, traditional
publishers still require specific word counts for their own
business-related reasons, but with all the other options we have for
publishing, it’s not necessary to adhere to that. And I think that’s a
very good thing. I’ve often picked up a book only to think after reading
it that it could have been cut by half or more and been a better story.
Honestly, I never notice how long a story is *unless* it’s either too
long, or too short. And in those cases, it’s the *story* that was either
stretched or cut that bothers me, not the actual word count.
hear a lot of authors complaining about reviews that say their book was
too short or too long. In my opinion, that means something about the
story left the reader unsatisfied – the author didn’t do the job well
enough (and lest you think I’m picking on other authors only, I would
think the same thing of my own writing if I got a review like that – and
I’m sure I will eventually). If a story satisfies the reader properly,
the length simply won’t matter.
is knowing when you’ve got just enough story to be satisfying without
boring the reader with extraneous “stuff”. To a certain extent, this
will vary from reader to reader, but I think there’s a general average
for every story that will have fairly wide appeal. And I think authors
have to sort of feel their way through it – it’s not something that can
be reduced to a mathematical problem, but rather an instinct that needs
to be developed as we keep writing.
you, dear readers? Do you notice the length of a story if it’s
satisfying to you? Do you pick and choose what to buy based on length
(even I do that – I’m not a fan of anything over 80k or so)? If you’re a
writer, what’s your comfortable writing range as far as length goes?
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