Making Wild Books, Movies, and Waves In the New Frontier

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Really enjoyed your thoughts and this is a great reminder to keep a tight focus on the story being told. I have caught myself repeating sometimes when I go through an edit and think, "Idiot!" So thanks for the reminder!


It's true. Sometimes people say that the writing of an excellent 50,000-word novel is a lost art. I think there are plenty of people out there writing great 50,000-word novels. They're just enmeshed with another 50,000-word novel that's all about the same characters raising their eyebrows and sipping their drinks and opening and closing doors and dreaming and having sex.

Masterton's "The Devils of D-Day" -243pgs. Herbert's "The Survivor" -207pgs. Probably not considered literary masterpieces, but they are tight, damned entertaining reads. I believe that in today's world of short attention spans and sound byte mentalities, an author has one strike against them putting a behemoth on the shelf. Very few people want to bunker down with a monster-huge book these days. It's lazy reading, but there you go.

Couldn't agree with you more, Skip. Excellent post. Fat books have been a particular annoyance for me for many years. I think some of it is due to the decline of the editor in genre fiction. So many of them simply do not edit effectively as in year's past. One area of publishing that does have effective editing is young adult fiction. Compare the general length of most young adult books to any historical/fantasy/sf books and you'll see what I mean. I've read more young adult books in the past two years than I have in the past two decades.

Dear Kelly -- Good! KEEP REMEMBERING!

Dear Sam -- THANKS! This is a prayer of which I approve!

Dear Nick -- Perfectly said. It's like there's this great novel, completely smothered in this endlessly blithering novel, and they've been horribly grafted together like a botched surgery, a gene-splice experiment gone tediously wrong.

Dear D -- It's not lazy reading. It's lazy writing and editing.

Dear Ricky -- Yes, yes, and yes. YA books often seem like the only books being edited at all. It's part of why they sell so well. More on this and other matters, quite possibly tonight!

Good post. This is why I stopped buying fantasy books several years ago. Now I borrow them from the library and if it is something that I will want to read again, then I go to the bookstore and buy it. Unfortunately, it is rare that this happens with anything I have checked out from the SciFi and Fantasy bookshelf. :(

@dillett, I would be absolutely delighted to hunker down with a monster thick book if it held my attention and wasn't filled with a lot of blahblahblah. Other genres of fiction publish thick books and they aren't filled with a lot of blahblahblah.

Excellent points all around. I find myself to be a fairly easy to please reader, but filler is the one thing that always stood out for me as a turn-off.

A big part of it's not just boredom, but because I know that the extraneous bits are there to reach a word-count. Once I start thinking about a word-count and--by extension--the writer (or publisher), I'm not thinking about their plot or characters.

Just to clarify, I wasn't disagreeing here, I was merely trying to offer an additional thought on why it might not be a good idea to go with a big book. Maybe I didn't think it through well enough, or express myself very well. My apologies if I've offended anyone with this opinion.

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