Too Many Notes

I love that scene. Hell, I love the whole movie because it’s just one great scene after another. But this video came to mind because of another problem and maybe someone has an idea of what I should do. Or at least talk me off the ledge.

I need some opinions on word counts. Right now the first draft is at 108,000 and I think about two thirds done. I write pretty lean. There’s not a whole lot of Jordanesque wandering around the world, no three page descriptions of elaborate meals or floor plans of country inns. So it’s not like there’s padding to be removed. I planned on a three book series and have had my reservations on if there was enough material for book two. I just read something that first novels should never be over 120K. So, is this accurate? Should I plan on working up a cliffhanger where the novel stands now, which would leave a lot of action for book 2? Or should I just plunge ahead with my original vision? I had figured that the second book would take care of itself. There’s a lot of plot that probably would grow in that book once I started writing it.

But then again, given the word counts these guys deal with, I should maybe cut myself some slack:

Patrick Rothfuss: Heya Brandon.

Brandon Sanderson: Hey there, Pat. Nice talking with you again.

Rothfuss: Thanks for being willing to do this. I know you’re insanely busy these days.
Okay. Let me just jump right in here with a question. How long was Way of Kings? I heard a rumor that the ARC I read was 400,000 words long. It didn’t really feel like it…

Sanderson: Let me see. I will open it right now and word count it, so you have an exact number. It’s 386,470 words, though the version you read was an advance manuscript, before I did my final 10% tightening draft, which was 423,557 words.

I didn’t really want it to be that long. At that length we’re running into problems with foreign publishers having to split it and all sorts of issues with making the paperback have enough space. I didn’t set out to write a thousand-page, 400,000-word book. It’s just what the novel demanded.

Rothfuss:Wise Man’s Fear ended up being 395,000 words. And that’s despite the fact that I’ve been pruning it back at every opportunity for more than a year. I’d spend weeks trimming superfluous words and phrases, extra lines of dialogue, slightly redundant description until the book was 12,000 words shorter.

Then a month later I’d realize I needed to add a scene to bring better resolution to a plot line. Then I’d add a couple paragraphs to clarify some some character interaction. Then I’d expand an action scene to improve tension. Suddenly the book’s 8,000 words longer again.

By their reckoning, I’m a fucking pauper of words.


About jeroljohnson

I guess I'm the crying on the inside kind of clown
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