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Good News, Bad News, and Lots of Words

The good news: Contracted just passed 100k words. 

That means that I finally reached my NaNoWriMo goal, which was to add 50k to this wip. It also makes me look back and laugh at when I thought it would be a quick and simple short story.

That also means that Contracted is the most words I've written on one project in the least amount of time. 

The other good news: My rewrites for Part I of the The Book just ended at 32,431 words. I think I may have added more to this section instead of cutting -- but whatever the wordcount difference, I managed to resolve some serious plot and character problems. I now have a solid foundation on which to build the rest of the book.

The rest of The Book which was originally 100k to begin with.

Now for the bad news:

Contracted just passed 100k words and still has more to go. Part I rewrites on The Book are nearly at 33k. 

The bad news is that I CAN'T WRITE ANYTHING SHORT.

I am the person that people roll their eyes at when they talk about bloated fantasy epics.

100k isn't so bad. At least Contracted is 100k of people doing things and stuff, instead of 100k of them sitting around getting nowhere with the plot (*cough*The Book*cough) and/or describing food (*ahem*A Song of Ice and Fire*hemhem*). The thing is that there's still quite a lot more plot to go. My scenes tend to average about 1,500 words. At this rate, 125k as a projected final wordcount is not unreasonable.

I confess -- I like long books. As long as the bloat doesn't feel like bloat, I will happily read it. I have the stamina to read a long book.

Many people don't. I know I shouldn't be worrying about potential future readers right now, but it's hard not to when I see the wordcount climbing day after day. I don't want my wordcount worries to keep me from writing what feels right and what's best for the story...but I can't help the anxiety. I have the stamina to read a long book...but do I have the stamina and faith to write a long book? I don't know.

So far, I have worked steadily onward and upward on Contracted. I've written a lot of things that I would normally hesitate to broach in another project, especially a YA wip. I've relished the freedom that comes with writing amoral, grey-moral characters and dark fantasy.

The thing that's finally triggering my doubts is a number.

What do you think about long books vs. short books? Which do you prefer to read, and/or which do you prefer to write? What's the longest (or shortest) thing you've ever written?

Comments

  1. Generally, I prefer my readings to be in the 400-500 page range. But once in a while, I read one that is longer. The longest was Sarum by Edward Rutherford, which comes in at about 1,100 pages, or something. It took me quite a while, since I read slower than most, and Sarum is an episodic sort of novel that takes place over the course of 10,000 years. Nonetheless, I did finish it. It was a gift from my mother, so I felt I should and I'm glad i did.

    Then the latter Harry Potters...though most of them could have lost at least 300 pages without deleterious effect, in my opinion.

    But usually, if I see a book is 600+, I am strongly disinclined to read it, unless the premise really appeals to me. It's got a shot if it's a stand alone. If it's part one in a 12 part series of 600+ page books, I can pretty much promise I won't bother.

    As for writing, I tend to run a bit long for novels. My most complete novel is at 97K now, and I'k like it at 90K or less. (It's first two drafts were over 100K, so they were probably the longest things I've written. It feels like Novel 2 was headed into the same territory, but hopefully I fixed that.

    My most recent Nano is 71K first draft.

    My short fiction is usually between 2,000 and 30,000 words. (Big range, I know.) The mean is about 5,000, I think. i go sixminutestory.com sometimes and write shorter things. (You should check out that site. Like a mini-wrimo whenever you want it.) I write six word stories based on prompts on Twitter sometimes.

    As for you, the fact you are still writing your projects is a great sign. You're pushing through, despite some of the scary numbers you're seeing. That's good commitment!

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    1. Sarum sounds...long. It also sounds like it made sense for it to be that long, since it took place over the course of 10,000 years. Whew!

      Contracted will, in all likelihood, be a stand-alone. I know what will happen after the book ends, and it might even give me some badass book titles, but I don't feel particularly compelled to write it. The most I might do is write an optional epilogue. However, I really like the world I've built for it, and I might write spin-off novellas, short stories, or novels that follow some of the more interesting side characters.

      As for series, I will at least give hefty book series a chance. If I enjoy the first book, I will read the second, but I've never felt obligated to finish a series or even continue a series past book one if I disliked it. One or two series I remember dropping around book 3 or 4 because they got tired, boring, drawn-out, or otherwise lost my attention. Usually it had nothing to do with the length, but sometimes it did. Do you find that a longer book has to work harder to keep your attention and interest?

      Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the words of encouragement. :)

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    2. Yes, I do find a longer book has to work harder to hold my attentions by and large, though it can do so in a number of ways. Especially if I like the characters. Also if it focuses more on certain events or certain areas, as opposed to 8 races of people on 9 continents over the course of 4,000 years or something. (Sarum stayed in the same area for it's whole narrative at least.)

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  2. we are talking about Diana Gabaldon, right? Love them. Eagerly awaiting book 7--that box of letters at the end of Breath of Snow & Ashes is killing me! Guess I'll read the Lord John book coming out later this year, since rumor hath it Jamie will be in it.

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    1. I haven't actually read those. I'll keep them in mind for when I'm finally through with my (currently very tall) stack of tbr's. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  3. As a reader, I prefer long books as long as they don't feel long. For example, I loved The Diviners by Libba Bray because even though it was a 600+ page book, I was so sucked into it and there was so much going on, it didn't feel all that long. I took a hiatus from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books, though, because they're all 1000+ pages and they feel so. much. longer.

    So, basically, if it's written well, I'll go for the longer book. Although I love books of all lengths :)

    As a writer, my longest book so far has been 70k, and when I'm done with rewriting and revising the draft of another one I just finished, it'll probably be 70k-80k. I just don't have the patience to write longer books. (Also, my ideas tend to be too big for just one book, so there's also that.)

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    1. That's nice to hear. Some people won't even give a long book a chance.

      So would you say that you tend to break things into series rather than write a longer stand-alone? Or do you tend to plot with series in mind? I just ask because I remember reading a YA series, The Ranger's Apprentice, which kept the length of its books consistent even when it meant breaking off at a cliffhanger halfway through the main plot. It was...interesting. They could have combined two or even three books together to get better unity of plot per book, but that would have meant making it longer. It seemed like they were plotted based on length.

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    2. ...and before I forget -- Tamora Pierce, another YA author, does the same thing, too. She plots her series based on length. She used to only write quartets. She now writes two-part series or series with longer books. She said in an interview that she changed her writing/plotting style and the length of her books because Harry Potter "proved" that kids and teens will read longer books. I wonder if the fear of the long book is worse for YA writers?

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  4. Go Laura! It's exciting seeing how far your projects have come. When I read, I don't normally pay attention to length. If it doesn't feel long, it doesn't matter how long it actually is.

    The real reason I'm commenting is to ask if you know that the sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is coming out in January. I know you recommended that book on this blog and I loved it (read it in one day on the fourth of July I think). It was the first fantasy book that I had read in a long time. I love fantasy but for some reason, I have been reading more nonfiction lately (when I have time). Anyway, I got super excited when I saw that there was a sequel since the first one ended the way it did. Just thought I'd let you know, in case you didn't already. It's called Hollow City.

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    1. Hi!! Thanks. :) I am excited to see that you still visit this blog, haha.

      And yes I know!!! I'm so excited!!! I am on the list to get a review copy, actually, assuming that there will be any more left...Though I am currently away from my college PO Box, and also thanks to a glitch in the pub tool I am temporarily unable to publish reviews. I have a backlog of books that I need to get to. :P But hopefully that should be fixed soon (not sure whether it's a problem with examiner, my browser, or my computer) and I'll be able to publish those reviews.

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  5. I generally back away from longer books, just because they take longer. I also have this desire to add as many books as possible to my have-read list, so I'll choose shorter books in favour of longer because I can finish them faster and thus get more books on my have-read list.

    However, good books are good books no matter the length and if they're good enough I won't even notice the length and will rip through it like I would any good book!

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    1. Haha, it does make sense if you're keeping track. I don't keep a running list. I also don't mind taking my time reading a book rather than zipping through it, or re-reading books instead of adding new ones. :) What you said makes sense about different reading styles/priorities, though.

      Delete

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