Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Q & A 55 Minimum Word Counts.
I know authors are supposed to tell the story until the tale is told and not worry about word count. Still, while concerns on the upper volume of word counts are often mentioned (i.e. 120,000 words is too much for a genre fiction novel), minimum word counts are rarely discussed. I once read that a submission to a publisher with less than 80,000 words will not be taken seriously as a novel. If the story is completed around 75,000 words is an author likely to get a better response by adding scenes to get it to 80,000 words? Truth? Urban myth? What is the minimum word count that you feel differentiates a novella from novel?
Minimum word counts may rarely be discussed elsewhere, but the subject seems to come up here every time Evil Editor critiques a query for a book shorter than 60,000 words. Rather than provide the usual examples of short novels, and engage in the usual arguments over whether these qualify as novels, and whether the same rules apply to first novels, Evil Editor now definitively declares the cutoff between novella and novel to be 50,000 words. Any fewer, and the book will be so thin you can't read the title on the spine.
Obviously it's cheaper to produce shorter books, but if people don't buy them, publishers won't print them. Evil Editor's bookcase seems to be 80% thin books, so someone is publishing them.
If you find your 50, 000-word book needs another 30,000, you're pretty much stuck unless you've left some gaping plot holes that can be filled in with several long chapters. But if you're merely trying to get your 75,000-word novel up to 80,000, try this:
At the beginning of the first paragraph on each page, place the sentence, It was raining again, hard, as if it would never stop. At the beginning of the last paragraph on each page, place the sentence, The rain had finally let up. That should do the trick.