from Vintage Anchor
When you think about what being a writer means, the above (which I got from Facebook) says a lot of it. Because for the last couple of years my main writing of fiction involved editing and rewriting, I had forgotten how all encompassing writing an original novel actually is. This winter I did a novella, followed it with the Arizona historical (which ended up 117,000 some words give or take when final editing is finished this summer) and now am into the Oregon one with it now a finished rough draft.
Perhaps if one stops at the minimum length for a novel, which is 60,000 words, this total absorption would be less so. You'd live with these characters less time and have less complexity to the novel. But if you go for the longer lengths or into what are considered epic lengths of over 100,000 words, you live with them and their problems in a way that takes over your own life. That's just my warning-- be prepared for any author who has yet to write something that long and complex.
image from CanStock
I've shown these statistics before but basically here are averages for lengths of books:
Novel-- over 40,000 words
novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
novelette 7500 to 17,500 words
short story -- under 7500 words
Some would say that a novel must be 80,000-95,000 words and an epic or saga is over 100,000. It seems it's all a bit subjective but, one thing is true, where novellas and short stories can be looser in form, novels not so much. There are expectations for what the reader will find in the novel-- which I wrote about in an earlier blog.
The first full length, historical romance novel I ever wrote was140,000 words. It's the one I spent over a thousand dollars (and that was over fifteen years ago) working with a consulting writer on editing. Recently it got another look by me and it's still at 135,000 words and yes, that's epic, a length that most editors (at least back in the years when I submitted manuscripts) wouldn't even bother to read from an unpublished writer. The thing is it's a story not only of love but the trip west on a wagon train. Even though it centers on one couple and two families, that still makes for a lot of story.
Anyway the work that currently sucked me in is set in Oregon and involves the history of the state in 1865. While writing it, once in awhile I'd come up for air and realize there is no me. Instead of my life, I would find myself fretting over if my hero is reacting logically, would my heroine really do that, what about that villain, is he acting and reacting consistently to his character (yes, even villains should). And on it goes. It's especially bad in the middle of the night when it's all I can think about.
With the rough draft done, other than a few immediate tweaks (which have come to me in the night, I really need a break from writing (although I already have an idea for the book that would follow this one). I need to get back into my own life and find out what's going on. It turns out that my husband has been pulled into a technology project right now to the point he's not really here either. We are going through the paces of looking after the livestock and our place, but our imaginations are elsewhere. Bad timing-- as it might be best if we staggered our obsessions.