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Optimutt
August 28th, 2006, 08:56 AM
I am writing a book. Seriously. The biggest problem with this little book of mine is that it is nowhere near little. It's about 80,000 words right now, and may have concluded the first quarter of the overall tale. Yes, I have already taken into consideration the notion that books are as long as they need to be. The main reason I'm writing this is to inquire about the lengths of some famous novels, not in pages, but word count. For example, how long is Steven King's "Gunslinger"? or Papa Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" in words?

What are some averages or rough figures of some greats?

Werthead
August 28th, 2006, 09:30 AM
I believe that The Lord of the Rings is over 300,000 words in length.

Some other word counts:

Paul Kearney's The Mark of Ran (390 large-type pages): 90,000.

Robert Jordan's The Shadow Rising (1,008 small-type pages): 393,000
Robert Jordan's The Path of Daggers (704 medium-type pages): 226,000.

Peter F. Hamilton's The Reality Dysfunction (1,230 medium-type pages): 320,000.

BrianC
August 28th, 2006, 10:23 AM
Optimutt, it's probably a good thing that you are thinking of this now, and not when you are 90% finished. I have a few questions:

1. Is your book science fiction or fantasy? It does make a difference. The average fantasy tends to be 1/5 to 1/4 again as long as the average science fiction. Lately the difference seems to be shrinking as more science fiction novels are getting longer and longer. But fantasy is, as I understand it, still allowed a little more leeway from publishers.

2. How certain are you that you will keep substantially all of the current 80k words? If this is a rough draft, then you may end up cutting a good bit. If not, then you may well need to rethink your storyline.

3. Is there, or will there be, a natural point where the story can be chopped in two or three? My just-finished novel weighs in at a little under 158k words. Based upon my research this seems to be at the upper end of what publishers like to see from a debut, stand-alone fantasy novel. Any more than that, I have been told, and I will have to chop it in half and make a duology. So, are you sure that you are writing one book? Maybe it's really two books.

Optimutt
August 28th, 2006, 11:52 AM
The book is already split into <cough> seven books, and this is only the forerunner tale that is absolutely essential for the overall legend. And this is only the first part of the first book. And, until an editor tells me that I NEED to cut 1/4; I'm not going to.

Once the book makes a killing, then I'll go George Lucas on it and rehash the extended version and the super-added scenes version. Or else, I'll toss in the "Added tales" afterwards that fills in all the little plot holes that the editor made me cut out. No; I hope they won't see all the characterization as **** and will be able to keep the bulk of it. Perhaps this is one of the single greatest drawbacks that a writer faces. Certainly, you can tell yourself that you're not going to be rejected, but if you find one that is willing to help you out on it with only the words "This is too big"; I'd say you're in a pretty good bind. You always do have that resale and re-Mastered option once you make your million. If we learn anything from him, let it be that. And that toys are the way to go.

Sidmyster
August 28th, 2006, 06:28 PM
imo (if its your first novel)
Your overall length will be quite a bit too much

James Barclay
August 29th, 2006, 04:38 AM
I'm moving this thread to the Writing forum... there are other threads in there about word count etc.

My view... doesn't matter how long anyone else's book is. Your books will find their own length. Caveat... if it's a monster length you might have more difficulty placing it. Might. It depends how good it is.

NOM

JBI
August 29th, 2006, 08:48 AM
Just think, Robert Jordan has something like 2.7million words in the Wheel of Time.(Just an estimate, not accurate at all)

KatG
August 30th, 2006, 12:28 PM
I am writing a book. Seriously. The biggest problem with this little book of mine is that it is nowhere near little. It's about 80,000 words right now, and may have concluded the first quarter of the overall tale. Yes, I have already taken into consideration the notion that books are as long as they need to be. The main reason I'm writing this is to inquire about the lengths of some famous novels, not in pages, but word count. For example, how long is Steven King's "Gunslinger"? or Papa Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" in words?

What are some averages or rough figures of some greats?

It depends entirely on what you're writing. King's "Gunslinger," which was then dark fantasy but probably today would be considered contemporary fantasy, was originally four serial novellas published in the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy. As such, it's not particularly long, but not as short as say, Peter Beagle's "The Last Unicorn." Lord of the Rings was a children's book, a sequel to "The Hobbit" which got out of hand and became a massive tome. Someone then got the bright idea to break it into three volumes, which made it much easier to sell in paperback. Nowadays, though, people are willing to buy a novel the size of Lord of the Rings in its entirety, and yes, even do so from a relative unknown making a debut, such as Susannah Clarke with her "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell." But it's not required that anyone go that long and the range greatly varies, though secondary world fantasy -- which it sounds like you are writing Opt, is on average on the long side.

What you seem to be estimating, is that you are writing the first book in a seven book series and this first book will be around 320,000 words. Which means you probably are writing more material -- detail, background, character info, etc. -- than you really need, as you work out how everything is going to function. But since it is a first draft, it doesn't matter. You can write long and then deal with possible cuts you want to make in revision. Other parts of the story may take less narrative space than you are guessing they will, especially as you keep going.

If you find that the finalized ms is still around 300K, then you can consider whether there is a natural breaking point in the story, which would allow you to cut the book into two (giving you an eight book series.) Or whether you want to go out with the ms. at that length. If publishers like it, they will be able to deal with it at that length, though it may be a little harder to market than a shorter length.

One thing to consider is how long it took you to write 80,000 words and how you want to apportion your time. This may or may not be an issue for you, but on a long series, it sometimes is. (I sympathize.)

Cshawns
September 10th, 2006, 09:13 PM
okay heres the whole deal dude.

This is what I found.
and it explains everything pretty much. I thoguht I would give you this format site too, because i dont think u did it, and its very very important to do.

and i'll just tell you... your novel is heading towards... 320,000 words
that is if you counted your words correctly... there is a special way that publishers and editors count words, and that is explained in the second link down there.
320,000 words is completely fine. IF you are confident as to how good your book is. if you have 320,000 words of awesomeness. you're fine.

here are the links that helped me out:

I put these 2 formatting instructions together to help me out.
http://www.shunn.net/format/novel.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/scriptsmart/novel.pdf
The BBC one is mroe helpful.

and this is prolly what you're really looking for.
http://www.pwcwriters.org/penpoints4.htm
in this one scroll down to the chart.



and yes, i did sign up to this forum just to tell you what i had to. haha. in a search for something i found this and thought i'd try to be helpful.

Optimutt
September 10th, 2006, 09:21 PM
Unfortunately, the Great Firewall of CHina prevents me from accessing the BBC, so that link is useless for me for the next year. But many thanks for the others.