Monday, June 13, 2011

My Book Is Too Short...What Now?

I am basically finished with the first draft of MANHOLE with the exception of the epilogue. It's coming in at around 20,000 words. When I saw this word count, I started to panic. As if this book wasn't going to be tricky enough to sell as a YA, now I was going to have to sell it as a YA novella??? Is there even a market for that? But then I read the Mood Man's blog about first drafts and felt much better.

Of course it's going to end up more than 20,000 words. All my books grow after the first draft. Some people write massive first drafts and then cut cut cut. I write the bones of a story and then add add add. (I like to avoid descriptive language in my first draft bc as you know, I sort of hate it). Gestapo's first draft was 40,000 words, it's currently at 55,000 and may end up even longer when all is said and done. Radio Station's first draft was 36,000 words and with only the first 25% edited has grown to 45,000 words.

And of course with MANHOLE, it is intentionally sparse with a fairly straight-forward plot so I would like to keep it shorter anyway. Really, could any of us have gotten through PUSH or SPEAK or PLAY IT AS IT LAYS if it had 100 more pages??? Eeesh...

Plus, I'm writing from a dude's POV and it has been pointed out to me (ahem, Carrie and Mood Man) that dude's don't spend a lot of time describing the type of pants a girl wears or the color of the flecks in her eyes. Which brings me to my Mars/Venus story of the day...involving my return home from vacation:

Me: Yeah, so we had this really funny incident involving a Brazilian wax.
Hubs: WHAT? Do women talk about that kind of stuff?
Me: Of course.
Hubs: Bah. I can't ever imagine talking to a guy about those things.
Me: Really? What do you talk about?
Hubs: Uh... sports, work, guy stuff.
Me: Well, what if the guy doesn't like sports?
Hubs: (shrug) Then we just drink and watch what's on TV.
Me: What do you do about the awkward silence?
Hubs: Guys don't have awkward silences. Women made that up. There isn't such a thing as an awkward silence.
Me: Huh.

So tell me, do you draft and cut or draft and add??? And have you ever worried about the length of your manuscripts because they don't fit the traditional guidelines one way or another??


Lisa Dunick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela said...

I've done both. Though for me, it's easier to get carried away and write too much which I later have to cut, than to write so little that I have to add stuff. It all depends.

Jennie Bennett said...

I just finished my first draft and it came in around 70,00 words. I'd really like it to be closer to 100, so we'll see if I add or not :)

Jus Accardo said...

I worry about it ALL the time. To a point where I start freaking out. TOUCH's first draft was only 50K and DD? Yeah that was 35K. Someone once told me, "Don't look at the word count." Sure. Great advice. Cause when you tell someone NOT to do something, they don't do it even more, right?

I know I add bulk with each draft, yet still, I freak every time. I think, for me at least, it's just part of the process. Can't wait to get a peek at MANHOLE :D

mooderino said...

I write quite a short first draft, then cut it back so it's even shorter, and then start adding. I would much rather write to excess and then get rid of stuff, but alas, not how my brain works (apparently).

Thanks for the mention!


Jeffrey Pierce said...

I wish I could give you some insight, but my writing teacher used to hold me up as how NOT to approach a writing project. LOL Stick with it. I have a good feeling about your work... and while that may not seem like much, my intuition is generally pretty spot on. :)

Stephanie said...

So weird! In my blogfeed, your post was right above this post by KM Walton (

It's similar to what you're dealing with (except this author had a 30,000 word first draft). Thought I'd share!

My drafts always start off short, too, and I add in later drafts (I'm on my second draft of my current WIP and have added 20,000 words that I didn't imagine would exist when I was writing the first draft. Stuff always comes out in revision that you don't expect when you first start).

Golden Eagle said...

I usually end up overwriting, and then cut once the first draft is done; description and backstory are usually what takes up most of the excess words, for me.

erica and christy said...

I write thin and then add in. I also don't talk much. Usually about sports and never about waxing.

I SWEAR I'm not a guy!!!! (although I do enjoy the male pov story, hehe)

Carrie said...

I think it's true about the awkward silences. They just sort of sit there, don't they? Like mushrooms. Hmmm.

Considering my word count history (google 'Harry Potter word count' and aim for that) I am probably not the best person to give advice on the subject, but I am sure it will end up PERFECT cuz you're just like that :)

Rachel Searles said...

I was cluelessly shooting for 100k with my first draft, so now I am cutting ;)

Shannon Lawrence said...

I'm sort of a mix. I draft, cut, then add, then cut, then add, etc. Every time I start to panic that I'm dropping too low, and then I discover something I need to flesh out or a whole other scene and it grows bigger than it was. With short stories, I used to write a big one, then cut.