Russel D McLean put up a thoughtful post on today’s Do Some Damage blogspot. It concerned the length of novels, with a side conversation about pricing relative to length. The length part was what caught my eye, though. I’ve had all kinds of problems with this.
My first published novel, The Take, will be coming out in 2010, but that was not the first novel I had written. There were several others, the first two of which exceeded 100,000 words. One of those weighed in at 180,000 words before I called it a day, although subsequent drafts eventually “slimmed” it down to about 130,000.
After those two efforts, I never again came close to those numbers. Probably because they weren’t crime novels, and everything I’ve written after that has been in the crime genre. The Take, mentioned above, topped out at 51,000 words. My others are in the same ballpark, only one of them exceeding 60,000 words, and that just barely. My latest one, which I’ve just finished, limped across the finish line at 39,000! A second going-over added about another 2000 words, but it still sits at a paltry 41,000.
I don’t know what my problem is. These stories play themselves out in a natural fashion, and in my opinion, they don’t feel at all rushed. The 41,000-word novel is even a slightly bigger story than the others and fairly begs for more words (like twice as many), but I just can’t find them to put in there. I don’t plan it this way. It’s just that when the story is about to wind up, the word count is pathetically low.
Adding clunky subplots just for the sake of piling on the words is not an option for me. I hate books that do that. These novels of mine are not overblown short stories, either. They’re fully-developed novels in every sense of the word. Every sense, that is, except length.
Anybody got any ideas? Anything I can grab onto?