View Full Version : What Is a Good Length For a Fantasy Novel?
May 20th, 2007, 10:08 PM
I have been working on a fantasy novel for sometime, and I'm finally making some progress. I'm on the edge of reaching 100k words (99,070 before I write tonight) and I've still got a long ways to go. It will probably reach 200k and possibly even 300k. Now I know that fantasy novels are generally a little bit longer than typical fiction novels, but where should I draw the line. I don't want an overly huge book. HELP
May 21st, 2007, 01:28 AM
From the publsihers I've researched, 75K-100K is the average range. There's some flexibility, of course, but you'll have a hard time pitching your first manuscript if it's too long or too short. Both are problematic, but being on the short end hurts you more, I'd say. With a piece that's too long, they can always order cuts without dropping you below the acceptable lower limit. Now, if you're a really amazing writer, they might be more bendy than usual, but it's advisable not to assume that they'll think you're that good.
The young adult market has its eye on slimmer volumes, but clearly you've got no worries of coming up short. Provided that massive cuts aren't warranted, you'll most likely have to break up your finished product into two or three books. Just like George had to do.
May 21st, 2007, 01:39 AM
From what a UK agent told me the UK market does take them a bit fatter, up to 150K and maybe up to 200K. But you have to have one hell of a story, well told, and something that sparks the imagination. The chances of hitting that target are one in a couple of million I would say.
Also look at what is selling now, not what was selling two or three years ago. Some of the fat fantasy books sold in the 1980's - 90's would have a difficult time of it now (words of UK agent, not me)
May 21st, 2007, 02:58 AM
100K would probably be considered too short for a fantasy novel. In these mad times we live in (gotta be a song title there!) a fantasy novel that's thin is going on unacceptable.
I would imagine that 200K-ish is the upper limit for one volume. There are physical problems with books that are too large, ie. spine and weight.
May 21st, 2007, 04:15 AM
Epic fantasy? I reckon around 3,000 words... ;) unless you like it, of course, in which case 120K is probably where you should aim.
Sounds like you're writing a trilogy.
May 21st, 2007, 08:02 AM
100,000 to 150,000 words are what publishers usually prefer. Don't believe that because Jordan, Erikson, Williams, Martin and a few others produce "titanic" manuscripts that's editors are looking for.
My fantasy debut weighs in at 250,000 words, and my agent feels that some editors will want to cut it down. But he was taken by the story, so he's comfortable shopping the manuscript in its current form.
May 21st, 2007, 08:58 AM
Thanks for the info. Looking around I pretty much got the idea publishers like 100k-150k, maybe a little longer or a littler shorter. Hmm, I better make it one great story because there is really no way to keep it at 150k while coming to a resolution. I am planning on writing more than one story, so this is one is just an introduction to the characters/world/struggle. I am trying to make an acceptable resolution, but really its just going to be the beginning of a many sided struggle.
As fans, who long do you prefer the books you read to be?
May 21st, 2007, 10:22 AM
As far as being a reader goes, I don't have a "preferred" length of story. All I know is that if I'm enjoying a story, I end up in a state where I don't want it to end, but at the same time, I don't want to stop reading.
As far as being a writer, I think it's hard to set a story length before you complete the first draft. Chances are you will:
- delete entire chapters,
- add in new stuff for the sake of continuity,
- cut out annoying characters,
- re-write crappy scenes,
- edit for: grammar, clarity, diction, pace, etc.,
- discover the story's theme on your thrid or forth draft and re-write it to be true to that theme
- submit the story and have it rejected several times
- re-write based on feedback from test-readers, or publishers kind enough to comment on the manuscript
- file it down to meet the requested word count of a publisher you have a good feeling about
Anyway, you get the idea. Until it's published, it's a work in progress. I'd recommend just writing the first draft to see what you end up with - then start the editing process - worry abour word count later. If it's too long you can always break it into parts.
May 21st, 2007, 10:38 AM
The term fantasy includes a wide range of books of different lengths. Contemporary fantasy tends to be shorter, on average, than epic, and YA varies widely.
Ask yourself -- do I really need to write 300,000 words? Am I likely to cut stuff when I edit? If you do need 300,000 words, is this multiple stories strung together or one big story that has to be taken as a whole? Given the interest that sff publishers currently have in doing multiple book deals for series and bringing the volumes out four-six months apart from each other, you writing 300,000 words might be a plus if you can break it up into two or three novels. But if you don't want to break it up, figure out why you don't, what it is that you are doing in the story that requires the full length, and that would be your argument/pitch with publishers.
May 21st, 2007, 02:12 PM
This is an on going battle for me. I am working on something and I'm at 70,000 words and on the computer pages I am on only page 130. So, I don't have a clue in book length approximately where I am in page number :(
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