It felt good to get in a solid writing session on my fourth novel this afternoon. I probably tallied 2000 words as the story heads for its conclusion. It’s now upwards of 43,000 words and will comfortably cruise into the novel territory before I write its final words.
But I have discovered that I’m now at a crucial point in my story where I have to decide how long it will ultimately be. I’m a concise writer. I know it, and so do my readers. I’ve had many reviewers say that I write fast-paced stories which are lean on long-expounding passages which really go no where. I suppose I write stories in which I love to read. I cannot stand unnecessary words. Henry James anyone? I could not tolerate his style. I was always a Hemingway guy. Short, to the point, but extremely meaningful. I would rather have someone say that they were wanting more than saying that they skipped 60 pages and didn’t miss a smidgen of the plot. That’s just me. Others will disagree with this.
So I am wondering how far down a new rabbit hole I want to go with my new story. I’m guessing not too far. I like to stay focused on the prize – focused on the slim plot which highlights what I want to say. I read a book review the other day where the reviewer said that this particular book had a couple different subplots which didn’t really play into the main story. That, in my book, is a big mistake. I love subplots, but you can be sure they will always be tightly connected with the larger picture I am painting.
This is a strange post, and I realize it. But it has convinced me of one thing: keep my eyes focused on the end. Do not add unnecessary subplots or words to your stories. Do not go on unnecessary tangents. Keep focused on the story, and if it is complex, it will be longer. If it is a simple creative expression, it will be shorter. But just don’t add words to pump up the word count.
Bloated word counts serve only one purpose: they make readers turn the pages quicker looking for something of substance. I don’t want that to happen to my writing.
Therefore, I’m going to keep the focus narrow and finish my fourth novel. Thanks for listening and helping me decide what to do.