Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Too Long for a Breakout Novel
After a few months trying to seek representation for my fantasy epic, I have learned one important lesson: word count matters! Yes, my manuscript is long (275,000 words) partially because that is what I thought was required of the genre. Compared to most of the installments of the Wheel of Time and all of the weighty volumes of A Song of Fire and Ice, 275K words seemed right in the ballpark.
Apparently, however, almost no publisher, and therefore literary agent, is willing to take on a manuscript of such length for a breakout writer. Everything I have read on agents' blogs and discussion forums suggests that a first time novelist should aim for around 100,000 words. Fantasy manuscripts, however, can be allotted a bit more, perhaps as many as 150,000 words. Still a far cry from the brick that I have created.
What now? After so much work I had begun to feel as if the end was in sight. But as I summited what I thought was the final hill, I discovered only many more miles of rock-strewn, treacherous terrain still in front of me.
So I am faced with two possibilities: edit it down nearly in half, or start all over with a new project and save that for once I have established myself.
Cutting my manuscript in half seemed like the most viable option, for after almost three years of work I couldn't fathom starting over from the beginning, but when I sat down at the cutting board, I just couldn't part with any of it. Which appendage would I most like to lose?
So now I have opted for option two: start over. But with what? The idea mill must churn once again.