Author Topic: How LONG Should A First Novel Be?  (Read 4985 times)

Offline SpeedyG

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How LONG Should A First Novel Be?
« on: August 15, 2011, 12:17:44 AM »
I am hoping to finish my first novel in a few months but I am fearing it may be too long!

What is the acceptable word count / pages / whatever(?) that a publisher will accept for a first novel submission?

Please advise.

Thank you,

Ray

thatollie

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Re: How LONG Should A First Novel Be?
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2011, 12:25:31 AM »
Well, how long is it going to be?

Offline Butterfly21

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Re: How LONG Should A First Novel Be?
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2011, 01:10:29 AM »
Well SpeedyG, it sort of depends on the genre rather than whether or not its your first novel.
Though, being your first novel I'd suggest beginning with something small, around 50k.

My first novel was a fantasy of about 55,000 words. (Didn't get published, just my first piece of crap, a practice novel)
Have you given thought to maybe the length of your novel being subject to a lot of fluff? Less is more after all, and its about the quality of the work. You should only use as many words necessary to tell the story effectively.

From what I can remember,

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Young Adult Average:55-80 never really go above 90k
Sci-Fi/Fantasy 80-120k

That's all I can remember.  :D Sci-fi and Fantasy are my genres. If you do a search of novel word counts you'll find some estimates of the average lengths of different genres. I don't think there's exact numbers for every genre, just averages.
Regardless of genre though, I think novels average between 60-90 and then there are the of novels that go above and below those numbers.

Have a think about  how much of your work is of the best quality you can produce. If you have too much unnecessary stuff, you're just cluttering your book and taking away from the story. I honestly don't think you should worry about word count, as long as the story is told in the most effective way you can tell it.

Maybe you should post a snippet in the review board and ask if anyone thinks there's too much clutter if you suspect that may be the reason for the length. Otherwise, look up word count guidelines and good luck.  :)
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Offline Gyppo

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Re: How LONG Should A First Novel Be?
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2011, 05:54:33 AM »
As you're  still writing it my advice is don't worry about it too much.  Just get on and finish telling the tale first.  A first draft which is too long can usually be easily cut by about 10% without losing anything really important.  After that you have to think about it a bit more carefully.

Working additional material into a novel which is too short can be a real bummer, because all the new material has to link in properly.

Better by far to have too much than too little.

Gyppo



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Offline Matt Walker

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Re: How LONG Should A First Novel Be?
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2011, 12:21:16 PM »
Most novels tend to be about 100,000 words, which usually translates to between 320 and 370 pages depending on typesetting.
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Offline SpeedyG

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Re: How LONG Should A First Novel Be?
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2011, 08:25:43 PM »
Well, it's over 100,000 words right now and I have six chapters to go before it's done!

I will take the advice and finish it then edit it.

I can also stop the novel at a key point chapter earlier and start the next novel (dealing with same subject - as it is hopefully book one of an entire series) with the remaining chapters.

Thanks everyone for the great advice.

Offline RebeccaEmin

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Re: How LONG Should A First Novel Be?
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2011, 07:19:47 AM »
I think you're doing ok. During your first edit you should be able to slice out any unnecessary filler. Make sure, when you get to that stage, you remember to remove anything that is not essential to moving the story forward. You should end up with a manuscript consisting of less words than your first draft contains.

Best of luck with it all,

Rebecca

Offline SpeedyG

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Re: How LONG Should A First Novel Be?
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2011, 01:41:13 AM »
Thanks for the advice!

Offline Grey Colson

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Re: How LONG Should A First Novel Be?
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2011, 07:33:02 PM »
I went out and treated myself to a nice large cup of coffee, cream only, this evening because I completed my first novel tonight at 102,522 words. I read up on it a little as I went along and found it should probably be approximately 80,000 + words, but shouldn't exceed 120,000.

Who knows from what you read on the internet, but most of the information was pretty close in agreement. I suspect I will lose 5 to 10% of the content after editing. That should still leave the book somewhere in the middle with +/- 90,000 words.

I wish you the best  ;D 

Offline Luana Spinetti

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Re: How LONG Should A First Novel Be?
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2011, 04:15:31 AM »
My advice is to finish the whole first draft without worrying about its length. Since your draft is already over 100,000 words though, I suggest you keep a scheme of the events and the way they are linked to each other; you could sketch that on a notepad and keep it handy. That is because the longer the draft, the easier the chance to loose a few events behind or forget about them.

A last recommendation: don't start editing before you have your first draft done. I have done that mistake years ago and I ended up with an unfinished novel since 1998. ::)
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Re: How LONG Should A First Novel Be?
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2011, 03:11:31 PM »
Years ago, one of my drafts was over 300,000 words. That brick weighed over ten pounds.

Until you become a name, keep your novels under 100,000 words.

Write 1,000,000 words if it helps you to find the real story. Afterwards, you'll cut and polish until the real story remains.

There's a reason why we say kill your darlings.

To answer your question: 40,000 to 120,000 words is the extreme for a first novel. Spark's The Notebook was just over 49,000 words while Rowling's first Harry Potter was over 76,000 words. Both were considered 20,000 words too short or too long for their genres and from their editors.

But, as always, a good story trumps all.

By the way, I cut that 300,000-word brick down to 80,000 words. It hurt like hell, but those 80,000 words were the real story. The rest was fluff.

I suspect you'll find the same with your novel too.

Wolfe
« Last Edit: September 16, 2011, 08:19:31 AM by Wolfe »