Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Editorial Shot Put

I get the feeling from your posts that you mostly work with picture books. However, if you work at all with MG/YA, I'm curious what the upper limit freak-out length is for you. Where you just say, "No way am I reading something that long!! Don't even send me the first page!" I know that contemporary is usually shorter than fantasy, and I've seen both long and short historical (but they seem mostly shorter than fantasy, at least in kidlit). I'm curious because I see some people say 75K, but bestselling MG/YA novels these days consistently include a huge percentage of longer books (closer to 100K--and this includes first novels).

You're right, middle grade and YA readers are showing a higher tolerance for longer fiction. Which is great.

I will read the beginning of absolutely anything. Neither topic nor word count nor author's background tells me what the writing is like. If the writing is awesome enough, heck, you can get away with This Is All. But if you're writing long, make sure you're appealing to the readers who want long. Some people say all of writing is knowing your audience. I say all of idiocy is generalizations. But remember that part of your audience is the editor who is going to throw your manuscript across the room if more than 20% of your manuscript needs to be cut.

7 comments:

Andy J Smith illustration said...

"All of idiocy is generalizations"... FUNNY STUFF.

ae said...

Funny but true.

And obviously, one size does not fit all. Even if it is made of spandex.

Danette Haworth said...

Good point! The editor is part of the audience--a well-read, experienced part of the audience.

Anonymous said...

S. King says, "After you've written youre first draft, sit on it, then cut 50%, then add 10%."
This is a very good formula.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Oh, dang, now you tell me. My latest draft has 10% cut, 50% added. So THAT'S why it's over 300 pages!

emay said...

Sit on it?

Ann said...

Most writers do write long in the first draft, then cut. Some don't though...when I revised my novel, (will be released in spring of 08) I added 10,000 words. In my first draft I wrote to get the structure and shape down, in my revision I added color and substance. This isn't typical, I realize.