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View Full Version : how long should I be making my novel?



Kharisma
08-29-2006, 12:57 AM
I understand that to some extent the novel will be as long as it needs to be to tell the story but should I have a guide line in mind? Is say 60,000 too short for published romance? Should I be aiming for closer to 100,000 - 120,000. I think if I keep on pace with my first three chapters I will see the finish line around 60,000-70,000 but there is a few scenes I may add if need be to get it up to the 90,000.

Any thought or suggestions would be welcome.

thanks
Sherry

Sonarbabe
08-29-2006, 01:05 AM
Here's our favorite phrase again: It depends.

If you're writing your story for a specific publisher like Harlequin who has strict word counts, then you will be fine in many aspects depending on the type of story you're writing. But, if you're writing a non-catagory romance or a single story that you would like to see published through like say Kensington or Avon, etc. Then you may want to consider bringing it closer to the 90,000 to 100,000 word count. Regardless, you should always check guidelines of potential publishers and follow your gut instinct of your story.

Kharisma
08-29-2006, 01:18 AM
thanks for the quick response. Since I don't know who (besides ME!) that I am writing for I think I will just write it first and worry about the details later.

Thanks!

JanDarby
08-29-2006, 02:40 AM
How long are the books you read? Even if you're not familiar with all the lines and publishers, the length of the books you're reading should give you an idea of what you're likely to be writing, either category or single title.

If you're reading (and writing) category romance, some of them are at the short end of the spectrum, but more like 75K, and you can check out the exact word counts at Harlequin's website. Avalon also publishes sweet romances that are around 60K in length, but that's about it for markets at that length. Maybe an epublisher or two, as well.

If you're reading (and writing) single title, they're probably in the 100K range, give or take a bit, and usually preferred shorter rather than longer, especially for a first release. Maybe 80K to 100K, max about 110-120K.

JD

dragonjax
08-29-2006, 05:49 AM
My first novel (paranormal romance) is about 78,000 words.

My second (same genre) current revision is 81,000 words.

brainstorm77
08-29-2006, 03:15 PM
I just keep writing to where my story line takes me.

Susan Gable
08-29-2006, 04:47 PM
I just keep writing to where my story line takes me.

That's one way to do it. :)

But I'm usually of the opinion that there are ways/times the writer must control the story, not the other way around, particularly if you want to sell the story to one of the big pubs. Word count is one of those things.

A publisher isn't going to want to look at a 140K romance novel. Nor will you sell a 30K romance novel. (Okay, that's not entirely true - there are some markets these days for novellas, but they're usually for very specific types of stories. Particularly the hotter stories.)

Anyone looking to write category romance MUST control the word count, because HQ's requirements are most specific. They're not suggestions.

So, I think keeping an eye on word count can keep you in control, keep you from rambling off too much, keep your story moving forward at a good pace. When you know you have a specific amount of space to tell the story, you write tighter, IMHO. Do I really need that scene, or can I portray that information in another way?

That's why I don't write short contemporaries. <G> At least, not at this point. I haven't mastered that tightly controlled story format. I haven't done too many short stories, either, for the same reason. Now, flash fiction I can do. But gosh, my hat is off to the people who can do short.:Clap:

Susan G.

brainstorm77
08-30-2006, 04:02 PM
Agreed! I have noted that Harlequin are quite specific on their submission guidelines. Sometime the writing can take over and in the end you do have to trim it down.

brainstorm77
08-30-2006, 04:03 PM
That's one way to do it. :)

But I'm usually of the opinion that there are ways/times the writer must control the story, not the other way around, particularly if you want to sell the story to one of the big pubs. Word count is one of those things.

A publisher isn't going to want to look at a 140K romance novel. Nor will you sell a 30K romance novel. (Okay, that's not entirely true - there are some markets these days for novellas, but they're usually for very specific types of stories. Particularly the hotter stories.)

Anyone looking to write category romance MUST control the word count, because HQ's requirements are most specific. They're not suggestions.

So, I think keeping an eye on word count can keep you in control, keep you from rambling off too much, keep your story moving forward at a good pace. When you know you have a specific amount of space to tell the story, you write tighter, IMHO. Do I really need that scene, or can I portray that information in another way?

That's why I don't write short contemporaries. <G> At least, not at this point. I haven't mastered that tightly controlled story format. I haven't done too many short stories, either, for the same reason. Now, flash fiction I can do. But gosh, my hat is off to the people who can do short.:Clap:

Susan G.


Hahah, you are definitely doing something right!! You're a Harlequin author and that is a great credit :)

Cathy C
08-30-2006, 06:24 PM
I just keep writing to where my story line takes me.

If you're a "pantser," this method works fine. But if you're a plotter, it doesn't work worth a darn! ;) See, us plotters have to know what's going to be in each chapter. We have the story in nice, tidy order before we ever sit down at the keyboard, so if we don't know the word count intended, in advance, there's no way to make sure all of the double- or triple-arc plot makes it into the book so it all wraps up at page XXX. I write 100K novels, because that's what Tor produces. I can fudge a little at 90K or 110K, but it needs to be pretty darned close to fit in the covers already ordered by the publisher. We're not quite to the level of popularity that our editor will tell us, "We'll make the cover to fit. Just write however much you want to!" :roll:

Maybe some day, though.

As a plotter, I recommend choosing your length before you start. Results may vary.

Susan Gable
08-30-2006, 06:34 PM
If you're a "pantser," this method works fine...

As a plotter, I recommend choosing your length before you start. Results may vary.

I think even as a pantser, at least knowing where you want to end up is a big help.

I tend to fall in the middle of the pantzer/plotter continuum. That's why I hate writing a detailed, 15-20 page synopsis before I've written the book. I have a lot of data before I start writing, from GMCs, to a lot of character information and backstory, to knowing where I'm going to start, and where I HOPE to end up. I know the major turning points of the story. But I love letting the story unfold some of the pieces as we go along. That's the magic to me. :e2fairy:

But I always know how LONG it's going to be, give or take a few pages here and there. That's my framework. :) I need that basic framework. So I don't think it's so much of pantzer vs. plotter as to who needs that guide. :)

Susan G.