At the risk of repeating myself, writing a novel involves a lot of work. Like setting up in business as a funeral director; it’s a big undertaking. Progress on my latest novel has been slow, and frequently been put on hold due to the pressures of life, but I think I might be getting there. The word count recently passed seventy thousand, which is almost a books worth.
I’ve read advice from publishers and agents saying new writers should aim for no more than eighty thousand words (patronising bastards!) Books by established authors often exceed this hugely. The last novel I read, ‘Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters, was thick enough to be used as a doorstop. Mind you, it was overlong in my opinion, with a lot of repetition. My last novel was a little over one hundred thousand words, and I suspect this one will be a similar length. I’ve gone somewhat closer to the mainstream this time, in the hope of appealing to the somewhat limited imaginations of agents and publishers. The book is about a major terrorist attack. It’s got a ‘strong female lead’, which is, as far as I understand, ‘de rigueur’ at the moment (unless things have moved on without me noticing). There’s action and intrigue, but mostly it’s about the people involved, and how the attack affects them.
There’s quite a bit to pull together yet, hence me thinking the final word count might end up at around one hundred thousand, even if the editing stages involve a certain amount of rationalisation. As I said, I hope I can get a publisher interested this time, but even if that doesn’t happen, I’ve enjoyed writing it. By this time, the characters have really come alive for me. I’ve started thinking of them as real people (and even found myself adopting their way of speaking now and then), and I keep having to remind myself they’re just characters in a book, and one not yet completed, yet alone published. I suppose it would be all I might ever desire for it to be the same for anyone who gets to read my little (or not so little) masterpiece when it’s finally finished.