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My book is too long. Around 250k words total. Right now it only has one main ending. Should I try to split it into two books, or should I pare it down?

    • Hi Rebecca. 

      I think that very much depends. You need to make a judgement call ( or get a reliable reader to do it for you) on whether you've really overwritten or if there's enough plot to sustain two books.

      Take an honest appraisal of your book. Is there a lot of unnecessary description that goes on for pages? Are there pages of back story that could be woven into the text or cut entirely? These may be indicators you could cut - a lot.

      Or you may have a driving, exciting, suspenseful story that just needs to be two.

      If it's the latter, though, you may need to restructure to make them work as a duology.

      Good luck with it 🙂

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      • I just read the book Mists of Avalon, which is 876 pages long. (probably around 350k words) It was a daunting read. All in all I liked it, but boy, the author did tend to repeat herself a lot. She definitely could have cut out the boring scenes the characters gossiping about dresses they made and who had a kid and whether wounds were healing. In other words, she did a lot of telling and not showing. Those things could have been added in other action scenes without wasting too many words. Seemed like bad editing to me.

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      • Wo! That's massive. I'm in awe of your stamina - well done indeed.

        For an epic space saga, it's top end in length. For a first novel it represents a bigger risk for a publisher, and unless it's Dune, that's a handicap.

        The upside of the investment you've made is that if it's a well structured story, over that length you've probably got a couple mini-climaxes along the way. (If you haven't, you need some, or it's just one damned thing after another!). Those climaxes could potentially be end-points. Find one or two that offer a satisfying if incomplete resolution, and you have the potential to split it into two or even three. And then you have a series! Publishers love series - lower risk and higher reward than single volume epics. 

        You'll doubtless need to rewrite to make them work, as Lynn says.

        A practical suggestion: if you haven't already, write a detailed synopsis, or a chapter-by-chapter outline. Dont worry about a wordcount limit, but obviously be as concise as you can be. Pop it up here, and ask for suggestions as to where the grand story might be split. I'll certainly read it (send me a nudge, or DM me if you're shy about going public).

        good luck!

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        • As for my stamina, yes. I have quite a drive to write this book. I have been at it for three years now. I write approximately 2 hours a day, five days a week. I don't even know what writers' block is. Never experienced it myself. 

          That said, I am willing to write three books if I need to, but part of me feels like I could just pare down and contain it into one. 

          I really love the book Fight Club. The author uses a really condensed form of writing that explains multiple concepts in just a few pages. He uses very particular scenes to portray what he needs. I could be that tight, it I just need to see the dead parts of my story and eliminate them.

          I have a synopsis: (Keep in mind, it's a Sci Fi Erotica book)

          After winning the war over corporate rule, Xy, the Savior of the People, went through a biological transformation. He no longer was just a warrior, now he had unique powers that enhanced his ability to procreate. Amongst many divine features, he could hear the voices of his unborn children in his head. Though his daughter Poenivae was first in line to be born, Xy had to thwart her birthright to conceive the next generation of leaders. Otherwise, planet Thix would fall into another cycle of war.

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        • You've got the luxury of challenging every sentence for excess. Make sure you never use more than one adjective, or one description. For example if you have wriiten 'he was breathing hard and sweating' go with either he was breathing hard' or 'he was sweating'.

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          • In this way, I might be able to cut every sentence in half. That's an interesting challenge. Thank you.

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            • Less is often more!

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            • Epic fantasy can be, well, epic. The Wheel of Time has 14 books with the shortest being 250k words and the total for the series about 4.5 million.

              So your book might be the length it needs to be and splitting it into two could be the best option. Or maybe it needs a hard edit. As Lynn says, you really need to take an honest appraisal of it. Is there unnecessary backstory, scaffolding, descriptions? Is the narrative drive strong enough and the plot tight enough or have you taken flights of fancy?

              Often a set of external eyes are needed to point out the problems to you. And as a debut, 250k isn't going to be appealing to an agent.

              Perhaps post up the first chapter for critique.

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              • That's an impressive amount to lose in a night.

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                • I'm hesitant to do this, because the forum is public. By book has heavy erotica content. I tried getting on the erotica site, but they have not made me a member yet. I don't think they have a facilitator.

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                  • If you put a content warning at the top of the post, that will stop people who might be offended reading on. 

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                  • Hi Rebecca, you've had lots of good responses here! Just to add my thoughts on the cutting back idea - I cut back my fantasy novel from 190k to 115k (dare I say it) relatively easily. I had a JW manuscript assessment and the suggestion to dramatically edit the word count felt so daunting to begin with, but once you get the hang of it, it feels kinda good! Agents really don't like massive word counts (especially as a debut) because it suggests you're either over-writing or reluctant to edit. 

                    My editor told me that I 'teased some really nice details' but that my descriptions were adding weight not depth, and a couple of POVs weren't crucial to the plot. So sometimes it hurts (I have cut out some nice writing that part of me wanted to keep) but it has to be about driving the pace forward!

                    That said, if you've a natural climax hiding in the middle, who knows, it could be better to split it!

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                    • I hear your wisdom. And from reading the responses, I decided I'm going to try trimming it and making it one book. It describes the birth of the main character's children. I wouldn't want to break that into two books. 

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