Filed under Soapbox on May 11, 2004
Tagged: novels, Wheel of Time
The question was raised in another thread why recent novels, and fantasy ones in particular, are so fat? Examples like Wheel of Time and the new Dragonlance novels were sited as books that runneth over, and not in a “bountiful blessings” kind of way.
I have no problem with 700+ page books or series that extend beyond three. The early Wheel of Time novels were quality reads. I remember lugging the hardbound, collected novels of the Belgariad to school in the ninth grade (and getting made fun of for reading “the dictionary”). Then there are classics, like War & Peace, that are known for their size as much as their content.
However, I do think some writers suffer from verbosity. Perhaps they are overwhelmed by their love of the language. Or they’re just in love with the scrawlings of their own pen. Editors also shoulder some of this blame, as it is their job to keep the authors focused.
I should also point out here that it’s not because a novelist gets paid by the word, something I’ve seen suggested. I’m not aware of any publisher that pays on a per word basis. That’s a condition of the short story market, where royalties aren’t offered. Novelist usually have a target word count, but they get paid off of sales of the book.
I tend to be on the other side of the spectrum. I often find myself struggling to expand things. It’s something I picked up as a technical writer, where conciseness is the law of the land.