Revisiting Novel Length

iStock_Chapter1Hey all!  Things are going pretty well out by me.  I’m making good progress on my current novel and I can’t WAIT for NaNoWriMo to start.  We’re so close, I can practically TASTE it.  But the current novel is coming along well – and for once, this novel is going to be well above 50,000 words.

Yay progress.

I made a post ages ago about novel length.  And while I’ve been working on Never, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about novel length again.  I specifically planned this novel to be 65,000 words or longer.  I figured out my average chapter length and then started writing an outline (which I rarely do for first drafts!).  After adding everything up, I came out with 65,000ish projected.  The way its going so far, it’s looking like it’ll be closer to 71,000, if not more.

So I’m really proud of myself.

Novel Length

I’m still very much in Camp ‘As Long as it NEEDS to Be’ in terms of word count.  I would much prefer to read a shorter novel that is extremely well-written than a bloated novel that has way too many plots to keep track off.

But I’ve been doing more research into novel length and have found some interesting things. My primary source was the listing from The Swivet‘s post on word counts and novel length.  They broke down novel length into many different categories.  Middle grade, young adult, paranormal romance, romance, category romance, cozy mysteries, horror, westerns, mysteries/thrillers/crime fiction, commercial fiction, and sci-fi and fantasy.  The general consensus for everything above young adult was approximately 80,000-90,000 – with some genres expecting closer to 100,000-120,000.

The sci-fi categories were all on the heftier side of things as well.

Writer’s Digest essentially confirmed these, stating that, in general, below 70,000 was too short, but over 110,000 was simply too long.

And this was bugging me for awhile…

But then I remembered something.

I’m an indie author.

Do Indie Authors Need to Care About Word Count as Much?

I don’t think so.  There are plenty of fantastic novels out there that are shorter in length.  To name a few…Fahrenheit 451 (46,118 words), The Great Gatsby (47,094), Slaughterhouse-Five (49,459), The Wind in the Willows (58,428), The Scarlet Letter (63,604), Brave New World (63,766),  and The Catcher in the Rye (73,404).

But why should I care about what industry standards are?

I obviously want to compete against those novels – but can’t I compete by being different?

For a long time I spent a lot of time hung up on word count and length.  And I was getting really frustrated that I couldn’t get Opus Aria and Opus Prelude longer.  After several revisions, both novels were about 55,000 words in length.  I had expanded scenes, I had added scenes to help the plot flow better.  But they were still coming up…’short’.  I figured that I had explained everything as thoroughly as I could…and I didn’t want to wind up repeating myself.

So I published them.

…could I have expanded more? Maybe.

Since then, I’ve let go of the MUST HAVE  A LONGER NOVEL kind of thing…and just started planning out the plot a little more carefully.  I’ll admit that Opus Aria’s planning was haphazard at best (hahaha, what planning?!) and that Opus Prelude followed similarly.  I’m Camp Long as the Novel Needs to be…but I’m getting smarter about my planning.

So…

I love reading and I love writing.  I love novels that are quick reads and I love novels that take me time to get through.  It’s just a different sort of enjoyment.

I can’t understand why the industry is wanting so many longer books…

But it DOES make me glad that I went the route of self-publishing.

What do you guys think about novel length?  What’s your favorite book?  Do you know how long it is?

~LL Lemke

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