Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Writing Tips #3 - Some Basics

Welcome to the third post in our new feature of writing tips. These posts will now have a regular Tuesday slot on the blog, so if you're a new writer in search of some inspiration, or you're just interested in how writers create their books, this is the place for you.

I was chatting to some new writers recently and I remembered how confusing everything can seem when you're just starting out, so here are the answers to some basic questions that were raised. The answers are for guidance only because there are no hard and fast rules, but this is a good place to start.

How long is a book?
I was asked this question by a new writer recently and it reminded me of the time when I found myself pondering the same kind of basic technical question. Different genres and different publishers have different requirements, but here are some guidelines on length.

A short story is usually 3,000 -15,000 words.
A novella is usually between 15,000 - 45, 000 words.
A novel is 45,000 words and above.

Different kinds of novels have different kinds of lengths. If you're aiming at a specific publisher then check their website to see what length they require. Even if you're not aiming at a specific publisher, checking their submission requirements is a good way to see what length is usual for your kind of book. To find out which publisher websites will be relevant, just look at the publication details at the start of a book in your genre. It will give the name of the publisher and the imprint. It will sometimes give their web address as well.If you're self-publishing, you can write at any length for any genre, but you might still like to know what kind of length is usual.

As a general guide, series romances such as those published by Mills and Boon tend to be about 50,000 words. Historical romances tend to be about 70,000 words. Chick lit is usually 80,000 - 100,000 words. Historical novels are usually longer.

If you can't find out any specific details, then as a rule of thumb, 3 printed pages are usually about 1,000 words so you can work it out by looking at any book in your genre.

How long is a chapter?
Again, this varies. There are no specific rules, but chapters tend to be between 3,000 words and 5,000 words. If you have a lot of very short chapters, see if you can combine them, perhaps by putting a line break between them instead of a new chapter. If your chapters are very long, see if you can split them into two.

My own books vary in length. My Regency romances are about 70,000 words in length. My Jane Austen Heroes' Diaries are about 80,000 words and Dear Mr Darcy is about 110, 000 words. In the end, a book needs to be the length that feels right for that book. If you're not sure whether your book feels right or not, then why not follow Christina's advice and find a writing buddy? For more on this, see Christina's post here . If you're looking for more writing tips, then you can read Fenella's tips on viewpoint here

We hope you find this series useful. If you have any specific writing questions, then leave a comment and we'll try to answer questions in future posts.

Amanda Grange is the author of 25 novels. Her most recent publication is Regency Quintet Summer Edition, which contains 5 Regency romances by a variety of authors.  US  UK  

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