Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Lenticular Series - how long should each part be?

For something that started nineteen years ago as a series of short stories on the Nuketown website, the Lenticular Series has far outgrown its humble beginnings. The last few years have been very productive in developing and shaping the story. Book one is in what I’d call ‘middle draft’ shape and currently standing at a modest 70,000 words – not really long enough to be called a novel. But the foundational elements of book one have proved to be a rich vein to mine and the story has blossomed into a multiple point of view tale, so much so that book two (in first draft) is weighing in at a 117,000 word, fifty-five chapter behemoth.

One of the things writers often ask me is ‘how long should my novel be?’ I don’t think it’s helpful to think about that in the early drafting stage, for fear of bending the story out of shape in order to fit some preordained word count. The story is as long as it needs to be. That’s my mantra in early drafting. But it’s time to start thinking about that now. 

The boundary line for book one is arbitrary. There was a natural break at the 70,000 word mark. But the 'complete' story so far is 187,000 words. Ideally that splits into two books of a little over 90,000 words, which falls nicely within the ‘norm’ for print genre novels (and I would like the Lenticular to be available as a print version). So one of my concerns at the next stage of drafting both books will be to see if the action lends itself (perhaps with minor rearrangements) to creating a natural break beyond the 70,000 words, and ideally at the 90,000 words ‘sweet spot’.

In the meantime, I’m having fun developing my third point of view character, Denev, a particularly frakked up Hegemony Diplomatic Corps officer who might just be the key to bringing the whole rotten edifice of the corrupt Earth Central Administration down...
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