"The word count is simply too high."

Hehe! Thanks!

I’m trying to avoid dissertations. I’ve done too many of those in my time. This is turning out to be an interesting place to take a break between chapters… :slight_smile:

Oh it gets betterworsebetterworsebetterworse depending on who you ask.

It is. I have the “need to add” problem. I mainly have to cut out the occasional info-dump that’s <3 paragraphs. (I don’t understand how Victor Hugo could go on info-dump rabbit trails thousands of words at a time, but w/e.)

The times I’ve experimented, trying to significantly whittle down something I wrote, the resulting nonsense confused everyone who read it. That gets fun on those rare occasions when my first draft of something ends up significantly over the maximum word count.

Folk liked paying me per-word when I freelanced, though. They knew I’d usually come on the low end of my approved word range without sacrificing content.

-Somebody who had a novel’s first draft be 17k words, second be 72k, and current draft be 85k and counting…

I have a secret suspicion that he died in order to get out of his contract.

Question: Do young adult publishers have young adults also reading for them when they take on manuscripts to publish? Granted, my young adult pool isn’t a statistically accurate sample, but my niece and her friends are avid readers, who frequently complain about YA lit being too short. (Her favorite novel is Gone With the Wind, and she’s been known to write Jane Austen-type fanfic. So I’m not sure how normal she and her friends are, either.)

But there are teens out there who like long things. Conversely, I know plenty of adults who’re avid YA book readers.

I don’t feel qualified to offer advice. I, too, write long and much. I felt that I had finally established a solid beginning to my novel, then ran a full word count. 120,000. ‘A solid beginning’?! I am learning valuable lessons from the discussion above and thank you all.

Now, to the matter at hand… I have an unrefined theory for a writer’s self-discipline that I submit for your critique. If a writer is loquacious and has serious difficulty writing less, perhaps the solution is to writer more. Much more. Perhaps she should write so much, that she is able to see just how much Story with Content she has to tell. Standing at the end of a trilogy, you understand that you would not have written so much if you had not wanted others to Know and Understand. Standing at the end of so many words, individual words – or paragraphs, or chapters – matter so much less than the ephemeral whole floating above them. At that point, it’s easier to see what would be misunderstood and what would distract a reader from the point you are trying to make. What if you are trying to convey the depth of your character’s emotion, while your reader is still annoyed by the shade of teal he was wearing three pages ago?

Obvously, this assumes that goal #1 of said project is to Write. If the first goal is to sell, then the extra writing would feel like a waste… but I’ll save my opinions of That for another day.

Hmmm. I don’t think it would work for me. My average story is 150K and up. I write about 200K words a year or more, every year like clockwork. I have stories that are 9 books long and counting. Yes, one single continuous story 9 books long, and another series planned that is 45 books long… fortunately I only have notes for that series, but JUST THE NOTES are almost half a million words!!

Are they boring? Am I out of content? NO! Every book is still interesting! In fact, they get better the further you go! Still full of content, still pertinent and fun to read! But the more I write, the more fun it is to write longer and longer and longer. The more I come up with. The more ideas I have. The more characters I make. The more…

I think it’s just training. Writing long is a style, and writing short is a style. It’s like the difference between Shakespeare and Haiku. Both are poetry, but Shakespeare is long and elaborate while Haiku is absolutely minimalist. You really have to train yourself to write either way in poetry.

With writing, my theory is that you write the way you train yourself to write: long just means letting go and stuffing in as many fancy flourishes as possible. (Kind of like the typical American diet, and the reason so many of us end up chubby.) It’s the giddy kid-running-through-the-grass freedom of no rules, no boundaries. Short means having to write slowly, stop and think about every single sentence, because every single word counts so much. Find a way to say it succinctly. Super-disciplined martial arts.

Which one is better? I don’t know. In reality, both. But because of the constraints of printing paper books, right now short is better. I’m just glad that the electronic revolution is changing that; with the invention of the tablet computer (Kindle type things), word count should matter less and less in the future as fewer and fewer people have to lug around actual physical paperbacks.

If this is your first draft, I’d say finish the story then focus on making sure all of the story is there that needs to be there, before worrying about wordcount. After that, you can get rid of a lot of words in the line-by-line editing phase: it’s not just about spelling and grammar. But I always promote working on structure before working on polish, because there’s no sense in polishing something that’s going to be discarded later anyway.

My most recent draft sequence went something like this:
draft 1: 50,000 words (NaNoWriMo, had no idea of the plot when I started)
draft 2: 80,000 words (oh, that’s what the plot is, and the antagonist’s story too. I get it now.)
draft 3: 150,000 words (plot holes filled, plot bunnies removed, foreshadowing and backreferences and time checks sorted out)
draft 4: target: 100,000 words (upcoming. in the words of Uncle Jim, “hold a gun to the head of each word and make it justify its existence”)

Unless you outline and everything is in place before you start and it doesn’t take you 3 drafts to get there. But it’s worth a check anyway.