On Monday of this week I finished the first draft of my first attempt at a YA dystopian fiction novel, working title The Boy From the Blue Zone. I’m not unhappy with it. I was just shy of 70,000 words and flying along when I realised that if I carried on it would probably end up being about double that. That felt like it might be too long for the YA market. I did some checking.
Apparently, typical ball-park word count for debut YA novels is between 55,000 and 70,000. Who knew? I decided to find a place in what I’d already produced to write The End. I did that at 60,000. (And so I have a start on book two. Yay!) But it does feel a little abrupt. Mind you, one Young Adult’s abrupt ending is another Young Adult’s cliff-hanger, perhaps.
I’ll stick it in a ‘draw’ for a while. Give myself a little breathing space. In the meantime I’m going to try to find some experienced YA novel readers who will give it a whirl for me and give me some brutally honest constructive feedback. I’ve already put out a few feelers. If the general consensus of opinion is not encouraging I might need to rethink whether it’s worth persevering with. It’s taken me just over three weeks to write it and have a couple of edits after read-throughs. Has anything any good ever been written in such a short time? I doubt it. (I might Google that later.)
OK. I Googled it. (Stupid, stupid me for asking the question: Has anything any good ever been written in such a short time? Stupid, stupid me for doubting it.) And from the links I realised that I’ve been down this road before with myself – word count and speed of completing a project. Back then it was about Bad Sons (B&C#1). (Stupid, stupid me for forgetting that.) My memory is so bad. (Which for some aspects of my life is actually a blessing.)
Did you know that…
Written in about three weeks. Word count: 58695.
Written in about three weeks. Word count: 43385.
First draft written in under three days!!!! Word count: 46778
I could go on.
Like a lot of people who end up writing novels I do have a bit of a fixation/fascination with word count. I’ve always got my eye on the counter. I get cross with myself about it sometimes because that’s a terrible way to gauge a book. But I can’t help it.
I can’t seem to write anything over 100,000 words. I don’t want to. I like to write shorter novels. And I like to read shorter novels. I saw a comment on the web from someone musing about word count in novels. Regarding Stieg Larsson’s books, he said. ‘Do I really want to know in detail about every single item a character puts in the their shopping basket?’ It kills a book for me to read that shit and it would kill me to write like that.
Flitting about the web I found numerous references to iconic short novels. The great telling of a great story told economically really interests me.
Last week was a bit depressing in a way – writing dystopian fiction by day, reading dystopian fiction by night, (living in a dystopian culture by choice). 1984 by George Orwell is what I’ve been reading – coincidentally I heard today that it’s rocketed up the charts because of something an American politician said. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’m not talking exclusively about its prophetic nature – the man was a genius with the English language, such a wealth of intellect beautifully expressed. An absolute joy to read. How satisfying it must be to write something intellectually weighty. Sigh. One day, Oliver. (But it’ll probably take longer than three weeks.)
Next major project on the horizon is B&C#4. (I’ve got a good start in the bank for that). But first, when B&C#3 ends up back in my inbox, all being well, I’ll be straight onto formatting that to get it out ASAP. Hopefully before I head home in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to getting involved with those two again. I need cheering up after all that doom and gloom.
I won’t crack on with B&C#4 until #3 is out of the way – I might end up confusing myself over things. So what I’m doing in the ‘dead time’ is devoting some love to a short story idea that I quite like.