Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Too long?

I'm still revising Sidewalks, and based on notes from my CP, today I wrote an entirely new chapter.  This new section is going to need at least another half chapter to bridge to where I need to be, so all up I'm guessing it's going to add another 3-4K to my manuscript.

And it's already around the 85K mark, which is longish for YA, but fairly typical for me.  All my books are around the 85K mark.  I just don't seem capable of writing anything shorter.  I usually have about 65-70K when I finish a first draft, but the revision process always beefs things up.

Is this too long??


  1. The sweet spot for YA is 65-75K, however, there are plenty of books out there that are much longer.

    I think the bigger question to ask is, Is this the right length for the story I'm trying to tell. If all the scenes, paragraphs, sentences and words are necessary then it's the perfect length.

    However, if you can cut a sentence or paragraph (or even a scene or chapter) without losing a core part of your story, then it needs to go.

    Now, where do I pick up my award for most vague blog comment?

  2. My YA novels are all between 80-90K but they are paranormal, which allows for longer word counts. Genre does come into play. For contemporary, in the 60K range is ideal. If you want to cut down on word count, check your dialogue. Do you need all your dialogue tags? It's better if you can convey who is speaking by tone or by including actions instead of tags. Also check your verbs. Are they specific so they do all the talking and you don't need a ton of details surrounding them? Cut phrases like "It was", "There were", "began to", and "started to". I did this for an editing client and I cut about 10 pages. That's a lot, and her writing is stronger for it.

    Good luck!

  3. At least you're not over 100,000. I'd worry then that I'd get automatic rejection from agents just cause of that number. But then again, there is one blogger I read who got her agent and THEY cut like 30,000 words. Cutting is probably easier to do on a R&R than adding.

    I've been doing a weekly post on my blog about all these words/phrases we're 'supposed' to cut. Like some Kelly said above. And I am surprised about how many words I use that are unnecessary. Things like directions: up/down/forward/behind. To me/him/her. I could go on and on. By itself, one word isn't much, but they add up.

    Sorry for this too long comment! :)

  4. In my next pass through I'll have to see if I can cut some more. I've been pretty good about slashing extra words as I go, but there have to be more that can disappear.

  5. I posted about length recently here and in it I link to an ex agent's take who basically says up to 80k for mainstream YA, if that helps. It's just one person's take but it's useful.