Thursday, September 09, 2021

Shorties: Blog posts and Novels

This week, I’ve been wondering about short books, books that weigh in under 250 pages. Some shorties are among my favorites –– Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer series, Robert B. Parker’s early paperbacks, and the 2020 novel that got me thinking about this, Law of the Lines, by Hye-Young Pyun, which I just finished and loved.

I’m about 50,000 words into my work-in-progress, and I’m thinking it might top out around 65,000 words, short by most standards. I used to get nervous about the word count, often pushing for 80,000, and, of course, still leaving lots on the cutting room floor as I pared it down. Most crime novels run about 80,000 to 120,000 words.

Part of the discussion must focus on my choice of point of view –– I’m writing in the first-person (similar to Macdonald and Parker), which lends itself to a streamlined story; and we must also focus on . . . well, my focus: I’m working hard to be lean and keep the storyline on point. Outlining has never come easily to me, so my first drafts can wander. This time, I’m spending more time journaling and less time typing. It seems to be paying off.

At the end of the day, we know it comes down to telling the story that needs to be told the way it needs to be told. It comes down to telling the story the best way you can, even if it ends up being a shorty.

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