Saturday, 20 March 2010

Does size matter? ABBA post....

What length is the right length for a book?  

Surely a book should be as long or as short as the story demands?

I know we as writers have to work in the commercial world of publishing if we want to see our work in print. But does this mean writing longer and longer books because there is a perception that a book needs to the thick enough to sell?

This line of thought was prompted by  an article in the Guardian yesterday .

There are some amazing books that are short, sharp and work because of their length, and others that are a delight because they are long and involved.  As a reader I know there are times I want to get lost in a long book, or even a series of lengthy novels, to live with the characters for a longer time  but there are also times when I want to dip into something that will charm and delight me because of the pared down prose.

When Spider came out it got some great reviews but the occasionally someone would mention that it was a short novel for teenagers, as if that might be a problem.  It is short, but as far as I am concerned it is the right length for the story and for the way it is told.  I could have added padding to make it a longer book, but  would that have made it a better read?  I don't think so.

My new book Dead Boy Talking will be a similar length.  Some readers have said they like that length because it was less daunting and they felt confident they would finish it.  Others just enjoyed the fast pace that might be difficult to sustain in a much longer novel.

Personally I feel that if publishers are pushing for longer books because it seems like they might sell better I think that is a dangerous road to go down, a similar avenue to the thinking behind publishing celebrity authors whether they can write or not.

The writing, the plot, characters and the story have to be what dictates length, or am I being naive in this commercial world?

Do you think length matters?

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my new book Dead Boy Talking - published June 2010- Strident Publishing

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