Mickey J Corrigan on Why Word Lengths for Novels & Giveaway



Please welcome author Mickey J. Corrigan. She's talking about Word Lengths today. And there are Giveaways!  
Why Do Novels Have to Be So Lengthy?
Mickey J. Corrigan
Although I am a writer and have been for many years, I spend much of my time editing manuscripts for other writers. So many times my clients tell me they "need" to add 10,000 or 30,000 words. Or 2973 words! Why? What does the word count matter if the story is complete and the manuscript is polished?
Unfortunately, word count does matter to literary agents and publishing houses. Many will only accept for review manuscripts that meet certain length requirements. This means authors are shaping their stories to fulfill the current size guidelines.
I think this is a shame. Your story is your story and should take up the space it needs and deserves. A novel is a novel if it tells a complete story, has depth of character, and sweeps the reader along for a full ride. That ride may only take a reader a single afternoon, or it can last for months. There are great stories that fill thick volumes, others that fill only a hundred pages.
To share an example, I edited a manuscript for a client who has written an engaging story about a man who faced and surmounted some difficult odds. It's a story of triumph of will. The manuscript was well written and together we edited and polished it until it shone.
Then my client attended a writers conference where he met with two literary agents. Both told him the manuscript was too short and would need to exceed 100,000 words. He returned with his hopes for publication crushed. His choices appeared to be to expand the story with fluff or give up. I have gently suggested trying elsewhere first. He could show his manuscript to the agents and small presses that do not require such a massive word count. However, his passion for the work has been squelched.
Some of my favorite novels are short. The Great Gatsby. The Postman Only Rings Twice. The Old Man and the Sea. Animal Farm. The Outsiders. The Giver.  Would these books be published today by the big American publishing houses? Probably not. Would we have missed out on some of the best literature ever written? I think so.
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Mickey J. Corrigan is the author of many books that are too short. Recent books include the edgy novellas in The Hard Stuff series from the Wild Rose Press (Whiskey Sour Noir, Vodka Warrior, and Tequila Dirty); the spoofy Geekus Interruptus and F*ck Normal from Australia's Bottom Drawer Publications; and the thriller Sugar Babies from Champagne Books. Her newest short novel is Songs of theManiacs from Salt Publications in the U.K.


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One Kindle Copy of Mickey J Corrigan's Songs of the Maniac Giveaway for one commenter!

Gritty Urban Drama, Noir
Modern Dreams from Salt Publishing, U.K.
Songs of the Maniacs
by
Mickey J. Corrigan
                                                               
                                         

 When the real you is someone you don't know, then you sing the songs of the maniacs.

From her office at a mental health institute outside what appears to be Miami, a troubled young woman counsels deeply disturbed clients while coping with her own heightening concerns. These include frightening consciousness lapses, violent memories of a high school sexual relationship, a menacing stalker, and an annoyingly arousing visitor who may or may not be insane. All this on a single stormy day at a time when a new mental health disorder has become epidemic and is threatening to distort memory and identity, unmooring the validity of reality itself.
The young woman’s search for illumination becomes an eerie struggle, as she attempts to understand her past, present, and true self. The hypnotic pull of the story lies in the mystery of the storyteller herself and her murky, uneasy sense of doom. A seductive and chilling novella, Songs of the Maniacs relies on clear prose and uncluttered imagery to delineate a fascinating descent into the abyss beneath the lush tropical surfaces of contemporary American paradise.
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18 comments:

  1. That's horrible! I know why publishers/agents mention such word counts because that's typically what sells, but a book should be the length it should be, whether that be a short story, a novella, or a novel. There are publishers and magazines/anthologies that take different lengths, and any length--to some extent--goes with self-publishing. In fact, self-publishing is bringing back some writing forms like the serial and the novella that almost vanished in the more recent years of publishing. Even publishers nowadays will have novella/short stories in between books in a series. There are places for all lengths. :)

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    1. True, and I hope agents understand this. I hear the NY publishers are asking their top authors to write novellas. As a way to draw new fans.

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  2. That's such a sad story! I completely agree that a story needs it's own pace, and sometimes it really sucks being forced into guidelines established that don't suit everything. Honestly, I tend to write on the shorter side of things and like it that way :)

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    1. Me too. But it makes for a harder sell.

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  3. I have heard this recently, but the truth is, most publishing houses have word length restrictions. I've found myself editing out good bits because I'm a few thousand words over the accepted length. This man's story is typical.

    Great share Mickey.

    Hi Kelly!

    Denise :)

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    1. Yes, it is typical. Still, I felt sorry for him. You have to be tough and hang in there in the writing biz.

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  4. I have an editing client who has been asked to reduce her word count because it's over 100,000. Unfortunately, word count does matter to editors and agents.

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  5. Word count shouldn't matter. It's about the story. I hope the man finds a home for his manuscript. It sounds like it's a good one.

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  6. Thankfully in this modern day of self-publishing, I think some of those crazy guidelines are being bent. Readers latch onto stories of all sizes, and it's awesome to see it happen.

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

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    1. That is another benefit of democratizing publishing. So maybe we'll have more space for shorter novels in the near future.

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  7. Hello, Mickey! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  8. I was rejected a few times because my manuscript was too short, only by a few thousand words, meanwhile my story was complete. I'll continue to shop it around. I believe shorter works can be published as novellas and longer works--I've seen this happen--have been split into two books to meet publisher requirements. Anything is possible.

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  9. I always find it odd that so many authors have a hard time cutting their novels down. I'm like Medeia above--shorter is me! I guess that's why I fit in children's books...my MGs are only 40,000 words.

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  10. I do hope that writer doesn't give up trying. I agree he should take his manuscript elsewhere and with any luck someone, somewhere will see the sense of publishing it just as it is.

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  11. This is just what I need. I just finished a manuscript that is way too short compared to 'current standards', but I don't know what to add apart from fluff. Great advice.

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  12. I think the word count should be a suggestion, if anything. Like most books in this genre or for this age group are ____ number of words. But, books that have less or more words should be considered for their writing. I would rather read a shorter book that is well written than a longer book with fluff thrown in.

    Hopefully the author you mentioned will find the right press for his work!

    Thanks for sharing!
    ~Jess

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  13. Interesting. I get so frustrated by books that are padded out with unnecessary waffle in what is so obviously an attempt to meet a word count.

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  14. word count should be considered, to an extent, but content should definitely be the priority!
    and your book sounds like an enticing chiller!

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