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