Lets talk about length. Book length.

But first check out this cake I made. Delicious!


It’s an Italian cream cake I made for The Hubs’ birthday. 1/25 of that coconutty mound of goodness is 412 calories. Yikes!!!

But oh so delicious.

I finished writing Chapter 20 last night, started Chapter 21, and made adjustments to my plot list. Two horrifying realizations set in at approximately midnight, as I was brushing my teeth:

1. This sucker is rapidly approaching completion.
2. This sucker still has, at least, 100 to 150 pages mulling around my brain.

Hence the minor adjustments to the plot line.

Look, whether the prude in me likes it or not, the scandalous scene is in. I’ve been referring to it in polite company as “The Scene of Awkwardness.” I struggled with writing it (mentally, not the actually process of writing it. You’ll be scandalized to know that was easy) but look, even Prude Me knows it has to happen. It actually has to happen twice. But that’s besides the point.

After I had too much wine on Saturday, I revealed way too much of the plot line to The Hubs. And way I say too much…yeah. I really do mean it, because he gave me The Side Eye. And then he asked, “Have you really thought that one through?”

Why yes, yes I have.

I informed him that I’m writing it for me. Not for him. Not for “fortune and glory” (I watched a lot of Indiana Jones this weekend). I may have rationalized it as I was doing what the characters told me to do, which sounded reasonable at the time….but just comes off creepy now.

He said, “Well, that’s going to be a long book.”

And he’s probably right.

As far as I’m concerned, at this particular moment in time, it just has to get finished. Then we can we can worry about the fact it’s most likely going to surpass any and all publishers page requirements. Look, we all know I have verbal diarrhea. I have Writer’s Diarrhea too: once I get started, I don’t stop.

So, how long is too long? Not relevant. It’s all how you use what you’ve got.



  1. Heather, my thought is that today’s e-book market tends toward shorter fiction. If in the old days a “book” should be at least 60K words, I think that standard now is about 45K. Books that far exceed 60K don’t lend themselves to reading on an e-reader. This is just me talking, but I read (and buy) a lot of books. Regards, SW

  2. Stephen King has diarrhea of the pen–he cuts about 1/2 the book after the first draft. @Stephen Woodfin’s comments, I’m fine w/ short books as long as they are priced accordingly. 45k is not a novel, its a novella. I wouldnt pay full price for one. If a book is *really* good it can go on forever. If the writing and story are not amazing though, I put it down.

    1. Leigh, which raises several questions. What is a novel, i.e., does the old standard of 60K words still apply in the new world of digital publishing? What is a novella? What is “full price”? All of these terms are in a state of flux. For instance, Kindle Serials are usually around 40K words including all episodes. Kindle Singles can be anywhere from 5K to 30K words. I have bought business books priced at $2.99 that probably had 20K words or less. Is $2.99 full price or is full price for a 70K word novel $4.99 or $6.99 or $9.99? I’m not sure anyone in the marketplace knows the answer to these questions right now. Regards, SW

      1. I think that’s one of the beautiful things about writing: there is no requirement on what “makes” a story. A single sentence “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” tells a story in just a few words. “War and Peace” told its story in…a lot if words. The creative process shouldn’t be limited by x-amount of words (obviously within reason or differentiation between novel and novella) because then it stops being a process and starts becoming an assignment.

    2. Stephen King has always seemed so wordy to me, anyway….I can’t imagine what his early drafts must have been like! It’s probably a good practice to follow: I’ve noticed how my storyline has changed as it has progressed. Early plot points can no doubt be altered or cut.

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