There is the perfect writer, who can script his words without doubt. So much so that the end product is pure and rich, and that to even mention a decrease in word count would be deemed blasphemous. I am not one of those perfect writers. Not even close. Yet.
The Last Strider, a novel written on and off from 2007 to 2009, didn’t have my full-time commitment to complete until January 17th 2010. After that date, I became a demon possessed…or is that a human possessed, because a demon possessed would be like uber-hard to kill for even the most extreme. Anyway… I was committed.
And at that time, my vision was to create an epic tale of fantasy. 6 months later.. after an illness, the disc in my back slipping and lots of social time eaten up by me bringing my daywork home, I finished. Woohoo!
Final Word Count = 148k - For an epic fantasy, that sounds reasonable does it not. Roughly 500 pages… Yes rather nice and sweet.
Actually, no. I was heading for a smack down with those 148k. In the world of publishers, I am a newbie. And for a newbie to have their first novel accepted at 148k… well… I would have to be something extra special. After some research, I found the word count deemed more acceptable to be in the region of 100k. Knocking off 48k… that’s a lot of words. But it is a part of writing that I had to accept if I was going to avoid the bin-of-sin.
Then, another shock to the system hit me. I had put so much time into writing that I forgot to consider my audience. The Young Adult market. A 100k book for YA now made me sweat. There was no way it would be considered by an agent. Again, more research… and lo behold… the range of Word Count acceptable for YA was 60 to 80k… At this point, I collapsed and put the book aside for 2 months to ponder my life.
I returned with an aim and in March 2011, I slammed the Word Count down to 74k. Yes, I halved it. I made the plot sharper. Took out pathetic subplots and improved the flow of scenes. I felt good.
But…even now… I am going through it all again. And with a little tinkering, I think the novel will end up at 66k. And I will be happy with that.
Lesson learnt. Research your market and cater for it. Until we break into the mainstream, we have to adhere to some rules…just a little bit.