On writing

How long is too long?

We like to finish the first draft of our novels at around 90,000 words. We know we’ll clean up 10-20,000 words just in the minor edits, but we also know that we tend to write spare, rather than overwrite, and that in the following drafts we’ll add 20-30,000 words of new story.

When we finished early drafts of LINESMAN book 2, we found ourselves with a whopping 130,000 words. Which is way too long when we know we are going to add new scenes.

We’re gradually whittling it down, but we’re getting close to the stage where we really need to step back and let the book sit for a few months before we can do the editing justice. Unfortunately, we have a deadline.

Thus it was interesting to read LightningLouie‘s IO9 article How Long is Too Long? Louie had just read Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear, and found it long, with the impression that it could have done with some editing.

I confess that until we started writing our own books to a contract, I was one of those people who would probably have blamed—as one commenter said:

New Writer = Vigilant Editor
Old Writer = Complacent Editor

Now I’m not so sure. Another commenter mentioned the demands of the marketplace.

Based on our own experience, how much does the length of the contract have to do with how dispassionately an author can look at the edits in a book?

Many genre books are delivered in nine months nowadays. I don’t think it takes the author any longer to write a book, but I do wonder if the shorter amount of time between finishing the first draft and delivering the last draft contributes to being able to edit less dispassionately.

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