Tuesday, June 21, 2011


My WIP crept over 100,000 words today. A couple of months ago I thought that I would have reached my estimated completion of about 120,000 by now. That is the down side of targets and deadlines; you can miss them.

However I am pretty much content with where I am. Things have been a little slow, because of a number of factors mostly about being tired and not writing as well as I could during my commute. But as I have said recently I’ve been distracted by thinking about some future writing projects.

But in the end my main reason has been the WIP itself. The novel begins in 1940 and finishes in 1952. I am writing it in multiple POV, one perspective at a time.
I ran into two problems. First, as I began to think about the process of patching the story together I began to worry I would end up with a bit of an anti-climax. I have moved away from sections of my original outline and I had this sudden dread that the new plot didn’t quite work. After a lot of thought I think it does, especially with a little tweaking. But in the end that is the sort of feedback I will be seeking from beta readers.

Second I have all but decided to remove one of the POVs. I like the character’s perspective, but all he really does is give a counter view of some scenes. The character will remain in the story, but the sections featuring his narration have fallen from the word count.

So to finish my first draft I have to finish one character’s perspective (probably around another 5,000 words) and write the majority of one of my antagonist’s perspective (I think about 12,000 words). Yes in my novels ‘the bad guys’ get to share their perspective. After all it is worth noting they think they are the ‘good guys’.

So finally a couple of questions.
Have you ever got most of the way through a project and realised part of it didn’t work?
When it comes to books how long is too long?

Now two piccies from Tassie.
Fungi Mount Field National ParkRainforest stream Mount Field National Park


Susan Flett Swiderski said...

As far as how long is too long, it depends. Look at how long the Harry Potter books are. Once a writer has a following, he can get away with a lot of things, including length. On the other hand, I think it's a lot harder for a new writer to get an agent and publisher with a work that's above 100K words these days. My book was originally right at 100K, but I wasn't getting any nibbles from my queries, so I did a bunch of editing, thinking I'd cut it a bit more. Ended up with 102K words, but it was stronger than the earlier version. Got some positive feedback from several agents, but no offers for representation, so now I'm in the process of editing (again!) and whittling 10-20 K words. I believe the shorter version may have a better shot at representation.

Old Kitty said...

I only notice the length of a book if the story hasn't grabbed me and I'm peristing! LOL!!!

Yay for your amazing wip progress!! All the best with it! Take care

John Gray said...

how long is too long

its a simple answer al

when people get bored

Jayne said...

My first draft was around 120,000 words. Lots of editing has brought this down to 90,000 and I'm not mourning the missing words (apart from one small chapter that I keep thinking about, but hey ho!). I agree with Susan, that it is hard for a new writer to get a publisher / agent with long books. Although it depends what best suits the story... mine suited being cut down. At least, that's what I think!

Hart Johnson said...

I've changed a PoV from third to first... all the way through--that was big. Most often I write brief and ADD a bunch, so it changes a lot, but in a different direction.

As for too long--totally depends on genre. With your historical fiction I think you can get away with longer than the 'average' (90K) range, but 120K is probably hitting that back tail for anything other than fantasy or 'epic' (are you epic?)

Claudia Del Balso said...

Don't give up, Al! Most of us WISH we had that much work covered. My first book (or attempt at it) didn't even take off. I killed it after two chapters because I knew it was going nowhere. So I decided to finish my anthology instead. You can work on two project at the same time. The important thing is to finish at least one. ;)

Linda G. said...

Congrats on crossing the 100,000-word mark!

As for how long a book should be...well, exactly as long as it takes to tell your story. Sounds trite, but it's true. ;)

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I agree with the other comments--as long as a story is holding the interest of your audience, let the story be told. Keep up the good work!

RosieC said...

Gosh, I love your pics, Al. Those are beautiful.

How long is too long? Ugh, I don't know, but I do cringe at the 100K+ word count. I haven't gone through a querying process, of course, but I've heard that so many agents won't take anything over about 80K unless it's SciFi (extra word count for world building). I guess it depends on the work itself, right?

Btw, need another beta reader? Just let me know.

Susan Fields said...

It seems like lately books are getting longer and longer. I have the opposite problem, my books never seem to be long enough.

Theresa Milstein said...

I write YA, so word count is a lot shorter. I agree with Susan, that many books are long these days.

I don't plot, so I have no expectations. Rough drafts always hit rough patches. Good luck with the last 20k!