Thursday, April 1, 2010

Making Decisions


First off, after reading countless agent/publisher blogs, I had decided to have a word count of around 80k. This is the ideal length of work for a first time author in my genre (historical fantasy)

Now that I am nearing the end of my first draft, and I see clearly that it will be close to 95k words. If I end the book where it transitions best into the next book. (probably 4 books)

My question is this: would you change the ending of your book to fit it into a word count? Even thou I am writing 4 books and supposedly can end it where I see fit… I want to end the book satisfactorily for my readers. So they get fulfilled by reading my book, not thinking "that’s it… I have to wait till the next book to find out!!!"

Or would you end the book where you decided to in the first place and forget word count?

Or would you end the book where you wanted and just cut the word count from previous chapters?

Thx and input will be valuable.


  1. As much as I hate to say it, because you are not yet published, I would stick to the word count. Your chances of getting your manuscript picked up out of a slush pile go down significantly if agents feel like your word count is too high.

    You'll understand why I feel this way if you check out the post I made on my blog called, "Word Count Warning."

    Your other option is to write the ending how it needs to be and look for other places where you can trim the fat.

  2. I would look at content. Plenty of crappy novels can be right around 80,000 words. Yes, pay attention to word count, but remember that your drafts may take all sorts of shapes. One of my novels went from 159 to 425 pages in a single revision, then back down to around 325 in the next. The main thing is that the prose is good, that it's highly readable, and that those who will receive it have a good reason to keep on reading.

  3. I agree with Shakespeare. My first novel was an untenable 135,000 words, couldn't figure out where it was too long and then I realized, I was taking too long to get to the story. I trimmed 20,000 words in one day.

    However, a good book that runs a little long but compels with story and ends in a satisfying manner will be much easier to sell (seriously) than a story that fits the guidelines but is unsatisfying.

    Make the story compelling and keep up the pacing and, if an agent/publisher reads it to the end, the word count will matter much less.

    In my opinion.

  4. I vote for interesting content over strict word count, too. I realize size is important, though. I would probably keep the ending that you seem to like, and look for other areas of the book where you may have gone on a bit too long, to cut the length if you need to do that.

    Stephen King seems to still sell, though, in spite of his word count. I do understand that you and I are not Stephen King, so we'd both be well advised to keep an eye on our size until we get rich and famous. :)

  5. It's only your first draft. Trust me, after your 3rd or 4th draft, you'll find it easy to shave the wordiness and repetition. If you love your ending, then that is NOT where you'll cull your word count.
    All first drafts are wordy, and need to be pruned down. During revisions you will learn to control your prose and get it down to 8o,000-ish.

    Good luck!