Monday, June 18, 2012

As a Writer, How Do You Measure the Length of a Novel?

I've been writing novel-length stories for well over ten years now, and during that time from reading articles in "Writer's Digest" magazine to now trolling through blogs, it seems that the discussions on "novel lengths" has changed dramatically. But as authors we tend to see "novel length" in various lights. There's

  • Wordcount Length
  • Page Length
  • Amount of Time Passing in the Novel
  •  How Long It Took to Write
And other general fun parameters like that.

I've been thinking about this particularly since finishing the preliminary edits on CROSS//Rebirth. When the first draft was finally completely finished, it was about 360k. Since then, with the preliminary edits, I've chopped it down to about 340k. (Easy math!) Surprisingly, that wasn't mostly scene cuts. (Yes, scenes got cut, but that's not the point!) Most of that was from simply tightening up the writing, getting rid of obvious redundancies, and rewriting sentences/paragraphs that eventually wound up shorter than before. It's amazing how all of that adds up to 20k. That's a short novella right there! But for me a a novel over 250k is completely normal. Fantasy series and all that.

Which is probably why it seems like it takes me so much longer to write my novels than some other people.  This novel, just in first draft form, took me three years to finish. Three years to write 360k that covers about...a month? Maybe a little over. That's an intense month!

When I define the lengths of my novel, I tend to go by word count. A word count very...normal for me. But I also think about the length of time I put into them.

How about you? How do you define the length of your novel? What's a "normal" novel length for you in any of the above categories? Could you imagine ever writing a 350k novel??!?!?! (if you don't already, of course!)

Sigh. And I'm in the process of writing two more drafts of the same length. This is why I have to be so diligent in writing so much every day!

10 comments:

  1. I definitely define length by word count. I write YA so my word count usually falls between 60,000 and 80,000. Props to you for 360,000!

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    1. YA definitely falls on the shorter side, for sure. Although there may be a market somewhere for 300k YA? =P (I suppose that would be broken up into a series though.)

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  2. Holy cow that's a lot of words! I go by word count as well, but I tend to be on the short side of things. My current novel is only 60,000 words :(

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    1. There's nothing wrong with that! I'm kinda jealous of people who write shorter novels, it means you can write more stories! :(

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  3. Normal for me is 70-80k but that's because I'm writing detective fiction at the moment. If I write fantasy, 100k is the norm.

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    1. What about a detective fantasy?? =P

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  4. I go by word count and typically write between 50k~80k, usually more towards 50k. (But I rewrite drafts from scratch and write a lot of books. For example, 150k or so has gone into book one, but I only liked 50k of it enough to keep.)

    I might write a longer novel one day. I considered putting all four books in the first arc of my series into a single book (approx. 225k words long, I think), but I tend to break things up more than that. But this latest book I started writing has 30k before the plot finally starts to show up, so that one might be more like yours in length. It's also my first book from an adult's perspective. Sadly, it's on hold until I finish the books that lead up to it.

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    1. Adults tend to be a bit wordier. It also has a lot to do with how many characters you're following around and how much they're doing. and I do hate that "on hold"feeling but that's how we have to prioritize things~

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  5. I've never been able to write many words. I'm very concise. My current WiP is probably going to come in around 10,000-20,000 words(if I'm lucky).

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    1. Wow, I can't concise my words down like that. My stories always end up running away from me into some grand epic scenario. I'm actually kinda jealous of people who can write such short things!

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