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bob88
11-19-2011, 08:40 PM
Hi guys,

I have a minor dilemma keeping my nights sleepless. (Okay, so maybe that's not true. Assignments with partial-differential-equations keep my nights sleepless, but a little exaggeration can't hurt, right?)

I'm more or less done with a humorous speculative fiction novel. The tone reminds most people of Adams's the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That book, according to Amazon, is 47k words long. I understood that books in general should be kept around the 80k. 120k is the very last upper limit. mine is 121k.

Yet, there's hope! Around 36k into the story I have the big problem solved and another one takes its place. It would take some hard work, but it would be possible to split the book in two. the parts won't be equal in length, though. The first would be 36k, the second 85k.

I can't possible trim the second part. The first one can be stuffed with more subplots, but I heard it's always obvious when those things are forced.

What would you do in my place?
Any thoughts in general?

Fruitbat
11-19-2011, 09:06 PM
Generally, I'll say that unpublished writing tends to be Way Too Wordy. The writers obviously do not recognize it, or it wouldn't be so. So, my first guess is that it's too long for what's covered, rather than that it needs to be divided into two books.

To check this, I'd post a piece of it in SYW and ask that particular question, "Is this too wordy?" Also, when crits are used, usually the beginning gets much more polishing than the rest. If this has been the case, then post a later piece of it.

I can't say more than that without having seen it. :)

bob88
11-19-2011, 09:16 PM
Without having seen any of your writing or knowing anything about your writing background, unpublished writing tends to be Way Too Wordy. The writers obviously do not recognize it, or it wouldn't be so. So, my first guess is that it's too long for what's covered, rather than that it needs to be divided into two books.

To check this, I'd post a piece of it in SYW and ask that particular question, "Is this too wordy?" Also, when crits are used, usually the beginning gets much more polishing than the rest. If this has been the case, then post a later piece of it.

I can't say more than that without having seen it. :)

Yes, I know that. I did post in SYW, got shouted at for using way too many words (they were right, of course), and began implying what I had learnt. On average (for me, yes?) tightening shaves off 10% of the words. When I'll be done revising I'll probably be at 110k. That's better, but it still scares me that the book my work is most often compared to is "only" 47k. There's a big gap here.

rainsmom
11-19-2011, 10:32 PM
My recommendation: Get an experienced beta reader who can analyze structure in addition to wordiness. You may have structure issues that, once addressed, would solve your problem.

Filigree
11-19-2011, 10:50 PM
If you think your book will end up at 110K, don't worry about it. That's not too big for the market you describe. If there is a logical place to divide the story, you might use that as a springboard for enriching both halves.

From what little I've read of your writing, you do need some strong editing. But there's good stuff in there, too. Don't kill it just to reach 80K. People tie themselves into knots over final wordcount, like it's a magic formula.

RobJ
11-19-2011, 10:55 PM
That's better, but it still scares me that the book my work is most often compared to is "only" 47k. There's a big gap here.
So compare it to a longer book.

JanDarby
11-20-2011, 12:35 AM
Terry Pratchett's books, I believe, are closer to 100K.

Little Ming
11-20-2011, 02:10 AM
IIRC, Hitchhiker's Guide was published over 20 years ago and at that time Douglas Adams already had some writing credits to his name. Better to compare your work to sometime that came out more recently and preferably from a debut author (assuming you are a debut author).

tko
11-20-2011, 02:41 AM
This is only my opinion. But humorous speculative fiction novel should be kept relatively short. Longer novels have suspense, mystery, and quests to sustain them. Witty and entertaining books wear out their welcome a little sooner. Kind of like eating chocolate, fun for a while, but no need to finish the whole box.

Of course, I haven't read your novel. I don't know how "serious" it is. I don't know what drives it. So take this w/a grain of salt. But I'd shoot for <100K. Do you need every subplot, every twist, every thought? And I definitely wouldn't divide it given what you've said.

I spent 4 months to condense a very complex thriller down to 105K. But I still have 3 full chapters I could remove is an agent asked. There is always something you can remove.

bob88
11-21-2011, 02:05 AM
My recommendation: Get an experienced beta reader who can analyze structure in addition to wordiness. You may have structure issues that, once addressed, would solve your problem.

That would be rather difficult. I think it would be hard enough just finding someone who would be willing to read 120k words. No need to scare people off with requirements such as structure analysis skills. IMO that is, of course.


If you think your book will end up at 110K, don't worry about it. That's not too big for the market you describe. If there is a logical place to divide the story, you might use that as a springboard for enriching both halves.

From what little I've read of your writing, you do need some strong editing. But there's good stuff in there, too. Don't kill it just to reach 80K. People tie themselves into knots over final wordcount, like it's a magic formula.

Lots of things to think about here.. Thanks =)


So compare it to a longer book.

Terry Pratchett's books, I believe, are closer to 100K.

Yeah, well, it's not me who's doing the comparing. Those who read it always say it sounds like Adams. I was never compared to Pratchett.


IIRC, Hitchhiker's Guide was published over 20 years ago and at that time Douglas Adams already had some writing credits to his name. Better to compare your work to sometime that came out more recently and preferably from a debut author (assuming you are a debut author).

Good point. Thanks.


This is only my opinion. But humorous speculative fiction novel should be kept relatively short. Longer novels have suspense, mystery, and quests to sustain them. Witty and entertaining books wear out their welcome a little sooner. Kind of like eating chocolate, fun for a while, but no need to finish the whole box.

Just what I was thinking. Good to hear it from someone else, too. Maybe it's a valid parameter after all.


And I definitely wouldn't divide it given what you've said.

Just out of pure interest, what part of what I've said made you decide that? Just curious...

kaitie
11-21-2011, 04:19 AM
I did an in-depth beta for a book that was 225k once. It might be harder to find, but it's not impossible,and really 120k isn't that big. If you're worried, just see if someone will read the first half. They might point out enough there to notice flaws on your own in the second.

quicklime
11-21-2011, 11:07 PM
be nice in the beta forum, be careful who you get (maybe better to "stalk" other folks looking for betas and ask for their take than to chance getting whoever responds to your thread; you can research old posts by the folks seeking betas and see what they have to say and if they strike you as well-suited to the primary objective of pruning this way). kiss a little ass if you have to, but I don't think finding a beta is hard in itself. Finding one who is useful can be the trick.

Just so we're all clear, not smearing AW, but I did hear a horror story not long ago about someone who wrote a "journey to hell" story with Dante in the title, only to get a beta who's primary crit was "ummm, what's with the title--none of the characters in your book was named Dante." Betas are like anything else--caveat emptor.