Uh oh... What if my book is too long??


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Thread: Uh oh... What if my book is too long??

  1. #1

    Exclamation Uh oh... What if my book is too long??

    I started adding up all my word counts today... My book is on track to cross 200k words when it's finished. That's longer than Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire! I never meant for it to be that long.

    How worried should I be? I know it varies by genre, but I'm writing a spy thriller and I can't think of a single other book in the genre that's even remotely close.
    "We learn more by fixing mistakes than we ever would have if things had gone right in the first place."
    --Keith Bontrager

  2. #2
    Unfortunately, unless you are a well-known author, it is unlikely a publisher will publish one that long, but don't fret too much because you can always cut out items easier than the reverse. I suspect you can find things not absolutely central to the story to get rid of. If you can make the book two parts, the first 100,000 words the part one and the next the part two, that could work.
    Author of CIBA 'Clue Awards' Semifinalist The Lone Escapist, published by Read Lips Press, available on Amazon.
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  3. #3
    Member Amnesiac's Avatar
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    Okay. Kill your darlings. The places where you've got up on a soap box and begun an exposition of your personal views, places where the dialog isn't as tight as it could be, any part of your story that doesn't advance your plot or build suspense, toss it out. Be ruthless with your editing! If you're still too close to it that you can't be objective, shelve it for a couple of weeks and then revisit it when you are in a more detached frame of mind. Tighten it up, reduce your adverbs and adjectives, avoid over-explaining things to your readers...
    “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” -Hemingway

  4. #4
    Without having seen your work, I'll just say that first drafts are frequently way too long or way too short for the material covered. Also, first draft does not equal finished manuscript.

    So, I'd just finish it, first. Then worry about going through it again yourself. After that, get some other eyes on it. It's amazing what others see that the writer misses. What we write is an interaction of what's in our mind and what we put on the page, whereas others see only what is on the page. So there can be quite a difference between the two.

    If the content is determined to be quality rather than loose writing after those additional steps, then you'd have to decide whether to leave it that way, even though it might be harder to find a publisher, or if it could work as more than one novel, with each able to stand on their own.

    Please disregard if this is too basic; I don't know how much experience you have. Good luck with it.
    Last edited by Ma'am; January 2nd, 2020 at 10:56 PM.

  5. #5
    Whey hey! That is one long tome. Bet ya could half it by culling most of the adverbs.
    Quote Originally Posted by Eicca View Post
    I started adding up all my word counts today... My book is on track to cross 200k words when it's finished. That's longer than Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire! I never meant for it to be that long.

    How worried should I be? I know it varies by genre, but I'm writing a spy thriller and I can't think of a single other book in the genre that's even remotely close.

  6. #6
    That's your first draft. Cut a ton of that out on the next pass. No trade publisher is going to put out a book that long unless you're famous or a proven commodity.

  7. #7
    Seriously, of all problems I did not expect to have! I was always afraid it would be too short.

    This is my first rodeo, and I've been working on the thing for something like 15 years now, so like was mentioned above a few times I'll just get it finished. That'll be an achievement in and of itself. Then I'll start hacking away. I can already think of several scenes that can be trimmed or eliminated altogether.

    No wonder its taken so long to write. Between the final and all the failed drafts, I'll probably have done easily 350k words.
    "We learn more by fixing mistakes than we ever would have if things had gone right in the first place."
    --Keith Bontrager

  8. #8
    Yeah, some books are way too long, they will never sell, like The Bible, who would ever read that?

    Seriously, write it first just the way it comes. It may be you will want to cut it down when you consider it, or turn it into a trilogy, or whatever. But think, nobody has ever written a gripping page turner of a spy story that long; wouldn't it be great to be the first!
    Visit my website to read and connect to my 'soundcloud', where you can listen to stories songs and more
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Eicca View Post
    I started adding up all my word counts today... My book is on track to cross 200k words when it's finished. That's longer than Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire! I never meant for it to be that long.

    How worried should I be? I know it varies by genre, but I'm writing a spy thriller and I can't think of a single other book in the genre that's even remotely close.

    Listen to me very carefully: IGNORE everything those other responders just told you. It's all urban myths perpetuated by the internet, and if you follow any of it, you will be sorry. I know because I once did what they recommended and it RUINED THE BOOK. Not only that, but it turned out to be terrible advice.

    Look, 200k was a lot...once upon a time. But that was because of printing costs.
    But this is 2020, and eBooks are now the big moneymaker on the market.
    And eBooks don't care about page count.

    Secondly, it is a myth that a newbie will be unable to sell a 200k book.
    You write a compelling query with a solid hook, and you can sell it.
    It will be hard going, but it is very much possible to sell a book that big.

    And finally, killing your darlings is the single-most misunderstood writing advice in the entire world.
    When you get to editing, trim the superfluous stuff, trim the unnecessary stuff, but DO NOT go and cut stuff just to make it fit some word-count you heard about from some random on the internet.
    Cut ONLY what needs to be cut; if it does not progress the story, or if it does not illustrate your characters, then it may be a candidate.

    Trust me on this; I cut a book in half once because of this kind of bad advice, and it ruined the book.
    I literally had to change my name and move to another town after that book.
    Last edited by Ralph Rotten; January 3rd, 2020 at 02:06 PM.

  10. #10
    Yep, what he says /\ /\ up there. My last post was an attempt to say that humorously, but seriously, it is your book, write it your way. And if you juggle it about after do so because you want to. It may be you read something and think they have a point sometime, but you don't have to accept any of it, and maybe you are the one with the point. They can't really know it needs trimming in any way, they have not read it.
    Visit my website to read and connect to my 'soundcloud', where you can listen to stories songs and more
    Hidden Content

    A thread of links useful to writers wishing to learn
    Piglet's picks. Hidden Content

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