Writing a New Chapter for My Proposed Novel and Needing Advice

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Image: Clipart Panda

So far, all the work on this novel, which chronicles the emergence of a truly synthetic intelligence and its impact on the human race, has been on chapters I’ve already written and that need to be updated. Yesterday, I spent some time writing a completely new chapter.

It’s a first draft and it’s not finished yet. I found I had a general idea what I wanted to write about, but it was pretty ill-defined. I needed to create one new intelligence plus several new characters pretty much on the fly. Some old, familiar characters also make an appearance, tying events in the latest chapter back to earlier ones.

Once the chapter is complete, my word count for the whole book will be somewhere over 40,000. I’ve found out that 40,000 is the minimum word count for a novel (albeit a short one). But that’s only halfway through my proposed table of contents.

That means I have a decision to make. Do I keep on writing, creating a work that would end up being between 60,000 to 80,000 words (or more), or do I split my proposed novel in half?

If I do the latter, is my current ending chapter a good place to stop, or will I need to add more material to make it a “cliffhanger” and also a natural lead into the next novel? Another thing. If I do end it here, will the proposed first chapter of the second novel be a good place to start that story?

I do have to say that if I create two novels, I have two killer titles for them. If I keep it one novel, I’m still stuck for a title and sounds cool.

Of course, according to this site, assuming my novel is about 44,000 words, and written in 12 point Times New Roman font single spaced, that’s only about 110 pages. Not much of a novel. 60,000 words is about 150 pages, and 80,000 is 200 pages. Maybe I want to keep this one novel after all.

Then again, I found some material on Formatting 101 that states double-spacing is the standard for a manuscript. But a manuscript isn’t the final formatting for a novel. However, even changing the spacing to 1.5, increases the page count of a 44,000 word novel to 140 pages, which is a little better. For 60,000 words, that’s 190 pages, and for 80,000, it turns into 254 pages, which sounds more like a real novel.

I don’t know. You writers out there, do you have any suggestions?

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6 thoughts on “Writing a New Chapter for My Proposed Novel and Needing Advice

  1. An 80,000 word novel is STILL a short novel. 40,000 basically doesn’t make it at all – you’re really closer to novella length. It’s 50,000 on the low end.

    Most novels are well over 100,000, actually, though 80,000 or 90,000 is acceptable. You’re not only fine, you’re right on track!

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  2. (I hope you get this published…I love the idea that “God, Robot” sparked something of a domino effect, to say nothing of the fact that your robot stories have been consistently excellent!)

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  3. Also – when you’re done, if you need an editor, feel free to contact me if you’d like – I have some real experience in editing now, having worked, albeit very briefly, as a slush pile editor, the editor of a pretty successful anthology, and am now the chief editor of another anthology. We might be able to work something.

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    • That’s good to know. Thanks. I appreciate your suggestions. Looks like it stays a single novel. I will deffo keep you in mind when the time comes to do edits. I know editors, but they have no experience in fiction.
      I think you’ll find (you probably know this already) that my interpretation of introducing religious and Biblical elements into the programming of my synthetic beings will have very different results from your original concept, but that’s the idea. “God, Robot” definitely was the inspiration for my own project, but once I got the idea in my head, it took on a life of its own.

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  4. Real world–
    In real life, saleable novels are anything above seventy-thousand, but less than one -hundred fifteen thousand words, with science fiction and fantasy tending to run higher at one-hundred to one-hundred fifteen thousand words. This is saleable novels, not the classification numbers. Also, an agent or publisher often wants to be assured you have at least a trilogy in your project. So three sets of sequential one-hundred thousand word manuscripts would be nice,
    From SFWA
    SFWA Classification Word count
    Novel over 40,000 words
    Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
    Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words
    Short story under 7,500 words

    As to words per manuscript page — in general, two-hundred fifty to three-hundred words per manuscript page. Therefore, a fifty-five thousand word book should be about two hundred manuscript pages. A one-hundred fifteen thousand word book would be about four-hundred. Editors like twelve point font.
    For print books, a mass-market paperback runs around three-hundred to three-hundred fifty words per page. A trade paperback or hardcover runs around three-hundred fifty to four-hundred depending on typesetting.
    So a one-hundred-thousand word SF or Fantasy novel would likely run four-hundred manuscript pages and the trade paperback and hardcover of the same document would run two-hundred fifty to three-hundred pages.

    I can give you the averages by genre from the web, if needed.
    SHORT STORY:
    Under 500 words can be described as ‘Flash Fiction’
    Between 1000 and 8000 words is a short story (also, most short story competitions will stipulate their required word length for entry)
    Between 5000 and 10,000 words is a long short story
    NOVELLA: This is a story that is between 10,000 and 40,000 words.
    NOVEL: A manuscript over 40,000 words is considered to be a novel. However, very few novels these days are as short as that. Generally, a 50,000-word novel would be the minimum word count. Most novels are between 60,000 and 100,000 words. A single novel can be longer, but once the length is above 110,000 words publishers may look at cutting it back, unless it is a particular kind of book – books over the 110K word count are usually considered ‘epics’. Here are some of the genres in a little more detail:
    Adult fiction (commercial and literary): usually fall between 80,000-100,000 words. Dropping below this figure is passable, however not by too much. Exceeding the 100K word count by too much could make the book more expensive to produce – the story would have to be really worth it for a publisher to want to fork out more money than necessary on production!
    Science and fantasy fiction: are the exceptions to the ‘word-limit’ rule, but even so they don’t usually exceed 150,000 words (and usually fall within the 90,000-120,000 range). The reason they are the exception? Audiences of this genre are happy to read epic novels, they expect it to take time to build the fantasy world around them and want to immerse themselves into that world for some time. Publishers and agents know this and as a result they are willing to show more leniency when it comes to word limits, so you are less likely to lose out on a deal due to word count for this genre.
    Romance novels: 50,000-100,000…this is a fairly vast bracket thanks to all the sub-genres that can be found in this category (think Regency, contemporary, historical, paranormal, erotic…even chick lit). Aim for somewhere in the middle and you should be pretty safe – when writing your romance novel, consider your reader: where and how will they be reading your book? On the plane, by the pool, on the commute to work? What do you think they want out of the book – is it that they want a quick, light-hearted read, or an epic love story? This will have an impact on where you take your word count. This can be applied across all the genres really.
    Historical fiction: Similar to sci-fi and fantasy-fiction, you are creating a world for your contemporary audience – you need to make this real and believable for them…but not dull and lifeless. Too much information and your novel could be at risk of being boring, too little information and you will find it difficult to place your audience in the time period. Aim for the 100,000-word mark in order to offer up something that is rich in detail, but not tedious to read.
    Crime/Mysteries/Thrillers/Horror fiction: All these categories have one major thing in common: suspense. Any book that falls into this category needs to be a real page-turner. Too many words and you risk losing your audience, too few and they might feel like they missed something. So it is advisable to follow the guidelines on word length for this category. Generally speaking a 70,000-90,000-word count is a comfortable range. Publishers and agents expect that authors in this genre will understand how to be ruthless with their words in order to keep their narrative on-track and moving at an engaging pace – lengthy descriptions tend to be like a needle to a balloon…it pops the crucial tension that you have spent so long ‘blowing up’.
    Young adult fiction: Although we covered this to some degree in our Publishing: Children’s Books Explained article, there is a little more to YA than meets the eye. This category has an ‘expected’ word count of around 50,000-80,000…however there is a little flexibility here, due to the sub-genres found in YA. For instance a sci-fi YA title could be expected to be a little longer due to the world-building requirements and also the expectations of the reader for this genre. But general YA titles should always keep in mind the age of their targeted audience and realistically consider their attention-span to an ‘epic’ versus something they can read comfortably before moving onto their next book ‘conquest’.

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