Friday, December 19, 2008

Regarding the Length of Stories

This issue is something many authors face. The Word Count!

As much as we all hate this, there is a reason why each publishing house and agency has set certain word count lengths for their submissions. In the case of the Harlequin lines, the word count is set to make the most of the end caps in the book stores. They know how many books will fit into those slots. Along the same lines, they also know the reading speed of the readers and the length set is just right. For the single title lines, the word count is there to insure the authors have a chance to develop the depth in the story. This does not mean more of the same plot devices thrown into the story keeping the hero and heroine away from each other, it this the depth in which we know and understand the hero and heroine.

I also bring this up to tie it into the word count method that everyone yells about. Look, in the end, they are interested in the computer word count. The editors give writers a lot of room for their stories (50-55 K) which is equal to almost two extra chapters.

But here is the thing. I have read just recently in a number or sources on the internet, of writers talking about all of the methods they use to get the story down in length, or to increase the length. Although changing the font or playing around with the word count does make changes, this is still not getting to the point that the editors and the agents want.

For example, in my submissions, I specifically set a 3-5 page length for a synopsis. I set it at that length to see if you as an author can get rid of the fluff and get to the point. I just want to see the entire story, as well as your sense of storytelling (mostly in terms of the fluency of the read). Frankly, if you can't tell me your story in 3-5 pages, then it just won't work for me. My bet is that you ramble just as much in the story.

Also, if your story isn't in that established word count range, don't submit it. The editors don't want to talk to you if your story is 20 K over or under. That is extra work and besides, it sends the message to your prospective editor or agent that you can not follow directions.

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