Length Angst

meterThe first Jesse Donovan novel, anodyne, is currently 45,000 words.

Even after I tuck in the remaining elements of the B story I’m having fun with, it won’t be much more than that.

Editing usually reduces word count. I’m verbose by nature. Tom calls me on it every time.

I know: if the story is told, the book is done. Adding filler is bad. Set proper expectations before people buy.

Robert Crais grew his stories. The Monkey’s Raincoat, the first Elvis Cole mystery, is 230 pages. The Promise, due out this year, is supposed to be 320 pages.

This is only my 4th mystery. Er, novel. Realizing that perhaps some of them aren’t mysteries at all, in the strictest genre sense. Thrillers, perhaps, though that feels a mite hyperbolic. Action? The 5-leaf genre clover isn’t giving me magic answers right now.

But anodyne is nearly 3 years old and it’s time for it to leave the nest. A few more hours’ work, a good review, and off for an appointment with Tom’s red pencil.



6 thoughts on “Length Angst

    1. Probably 150, give or take.

      I think the real lesson is that as I learn writing craft one thing I want to dwell on is injecting an appropriate level of complexity into my plots. Not enough twists and turns and the book is a snack rather than a full meal. My Irish mysteries, that’s okay. They’re snacks by design. But these action/adventure/thriller type stories, I want corkscrews within corkscrews.

  1. Well Joel, as you know, your boy Chandler’s Big Sleep wasn’t all THAT big, and even the Long Goodbye says goodbye without lingering on and on. And look at a novel like Gatsby—a masterpiece, and a masterpiece of compactness. So, like a person’s legs, long enough to reach the ground—enough to do the trick.

        1. Possibly. It’s going to sit more or less on the 50,000-word line separating the usual definitions of novella and novel.

          Probably just include the word “short” everywhere I can.

          A Long, Hard Look falls just short of 60,000 words and nobody anywhere has mentioned length. Through the Fog is 55,000. Same thing.

          Although 45,000 is even shorter, I suspect that like most things we think others are going to fuss about, no one will even notice.

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