Saturday, 29 August 2009

On length.

(Listening to - "Joliet" Jake Blues - Sweet Home Chicago)

After a rather productive day, I'm getting very close to the ending of my latest WIP. I was originally (and rather optimistically) aiming for a approximate word count of 40,000 words. I was WAY off. At this rate, it'll just crest 25,000 words.

This got me thinking about story length.

My personal belief is that a story is as long as it needs to be and no more, whether that be 25k or 250k. While I'll add a scene here and there in the edit, I'll only do it where the story needs it.

I've seen writers on forums who, on reading a post about someone coming up short, recommend that they "just throw in some scenes to bump it up." Pardon my internet swearage, but WTF?

The most important part of writing is the STORY. Why the hell would you jeopardise that with bloated or unnecessary scenes for the sake of a few extra k on the word count? It baffles me to no end.

Yes, it's true that agents and publishers have certain word counts in mind for each genre, but, as any agent or publisher worth their salt will tell you, if the story's good, the word count is irrelevant.

Thur. My piece has been said.

Opinions? Views? Rebuttals? Random comments about the downfall of western civilisation being linked to the increase in imported oranges?

Ta ta,


PS. I'm aware that this post reads a little "strawman"y. Sue me.
PPS. Don't sue me. I'm broke.


Lost Wanderer said...

I agree that a story is as long as it needs to be. It could nearly always be made shorter if the word count requires it, but adding is definitely not a good idea.

misa101 said...

The story is as long as it is. Adding "filler" is not going to make it better.

As far as I can see the only issue with word counts outside the range of normal is they will be harder to sell for your first book

Adam said...


I have intelligent people reading my blog! :-)

I love you all.


Lisa said...

If there's too much pointless filler it puts the reader off. Case in point, Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. Oh my word did I think she waffled with unnecessary description :S I don't think I made it past the first chapter in that book, and I HATE not finishing a book.

Adam said...

Thanks for the reader opinion, Pwni-, *cough* Lisa! ;-)


Lisa said...


Libbie said...

Yeah, I really hates it when people add crap just to fluff it up. It's almost always crap. Nobody needs crap in their story. I just cut two chapters out of mine because they didn't REALLY need to be there.

Adam said...

I do so enjoy it when clever people agree wiv me.

Validation ftw!


bettielee said...

You smart boy.