If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may already know, but I officially wrote Chapter 2 last night in Book 3 of The Protector Series. That means after three very painful sessions, I’ve complete Chapter 1. I know exactly where this story is going. I know how it’s going to get there. How to start the ball rolling however, was not so easy to figure out. I knew where I wanted to start, but it didn’t feel right. After changing the angle in which I was looking at the scene, I’m happy with it…for now.
I’m trying to get started on Book 3 and it got me thinking about Exiled and Shift. When I originally wrote Exiled, it was 120k words. After rigorous edits between myself and my editor, we cut a lot of crap and got it down to 80k. I thought this was normal. In fact, I KNEW it was normal. I’d been reading agents and editors blogs, following major publishing news, articles, etc. for two years. I knew 80 – 100k was average for a YA Fantasy novel. However, when I first got Exiled’s paperback, I couldn’t help but think “man, this isn’t very big.” That’s something no man wants to admit. I put it on my bookshelf and it looked like a baby compared to the other debut books.
I wrote Exiled with agents in mind. I knew I had 5 pages to get their attention and I knew I needed to be reasonable with the size of my manuscript. However, I only queried about 10 agents before deciding to self-publish and I never went back and added to the story. I didn’t think I needed to. It was fast-paced, action packed, and full of all sorts of world building. On the short end though, the character building was less prominent. I look at Exiled now and realize it could’ve been 20k words longer and the story might have been even better!
In writing Shift, I made a point to make this happen. Shift finished up around 130k words. After a few rounds of edits with myself, then beta readers, then two different editors, it was cut down to around 112k. I was satisfied with that, and I’d got to include a lot of character building with it.
With Book 3 I’m taking a completely different approach. I’m not paying attention to word count in the slightest. I think although Exiled could’ve been more developed in some aspects, it does what it needs to. It introduces you to the story and the characters, and if I haven’t hooked you in the first 50 pages, I’m not sure my story is for you. Shift adds to all that. It explodes out of the gate in chapter one, and doesn’t let up. It broadens the main arc, introduces smaller story arcs, fleshes out the characters, and shows you a different side to some of the ones you already knew.
As I struggled with this first chapter and I reviewed my outline, I realized there is a A LOT that is about to happen. It’s not something that will fit in an 80k novel, but I don’t think it needs to. This is the third book in the series and anyone who plans on picking it up is already craving more, or at the very least, curious. If you’re following this journey, you have invested in my story and its characters. You want more, you expect more, and after writing my outline, struggling through the first chapter, and preparing to fight my way through the next, you’re going to get more.
More Chase, Rayna, and all the characters you’ve come to love, or love to hate. New monsters will fill the pages, old monsters will reappear, and a little bit of Rai thrown in for good measure. Book 3 is going to be a huge turning point in this series and I’m excited to see what else unfolds. This outline is only a guide. Once the characters grab the reigns, it’s impossible to tell what might spill across the pages.
I’m hoping for a December 2012 release, but that is totally unofficial. There is so much work to go into this book and I’m only just beginning. I won’t rush it. It can take 18 months if it has to. I refuse to release it until I’m completely satisfied. That being said, I’ll be working my butt off for the next few months to try and get it written and drafted a few times before I hope to have it to my beta readers and editor. If I can do that, a December release is very probable. The question is, how many of these chapters are going to give me trouble? Lets hope not too many, but enough about that, what about word count?
My opinion as a reader is that as long as the story keeps me turning the pages and continues to pull me in, I don’t care how long a book is. If the author can continually tell me a great story and keep me invested, I’ll keep on reading!
What are your thoughts on word/page counts. Does it matter at all?