I knew that a first YA novel needs to come in around 70,000 words. There are reasons for this, of course—some of which I may know. It takes more resources to edit a novel that is long. I’ve realized this with my non-fiction book, Visions of Freedom, which comes out in April. That book has 56 biographies of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. It has googles of endnotes and tons of quotes. I pity the fact checkers and editors and designers who had to wrestle with it.
But bigger means more cost. It also means more can go wrong. It is harder to keep everything in your head.
My goal was to keep my first novel as simple as possible. Make it easy on myself.
Here I am in the fifth month of writing, trying to reach the magic 70,000 words. And, I am at 101,067 words. That’s 31,067 too many. And I still have several scenes to go.
I spoke with author Chad Morris on the phone today* and he was very nice to suggest that perhaps some stories need that many words. That may be true, but I know better for my novel. Things will have to be cut. Fictional lives will be destroyed as if they never existed at all. Alas.
For now, however, I push forward. I’m letting the momentum pull me to the end.
I just hope I don’t write more than 200,000 words by then.
*Chad Morris is the author of the Cragbridge Hall series of books about a futuristic school. My daughter, Ellie, was interviewing him for an upcoming review in the Deseret News for his new book, The Impossible Race, and I jumped in on the end of the call. He is very nice to my daughter, so all I can say is go buy his books!