Monday, February 27, 2012

You gotta have this book. Really.

Since I started writing, I've definitely gotten more critical in my reading. Unfortunately, it's hard to be a causal reader when writing is your profession. There aren't a lot of books that knock me over anymore. A lot of what I read just feels like "the same old thing." But I read a book last week. I'm telling you this because I'm still thinking about it.

The criteria I now judge a book by is this: If I think to myself, "Damn, I wish I wrote that," I know it's a great read. If I think to myself, "Gee, I could have written that," not so much. Because, honestly, if I could have written it, how good can it really be? I definitely wish I wrote this book:

If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend picking it up. Nuff said.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What's in a word count? (aka: My beast has taken on a life of its own!)

I've always found the revision process interesting. It's when you get other people's feedback that you find out you didn't write the book you thought you did. This is where you pick up on where characters need to be more fleshed out or plot points need to be clarified so it turns into the masterpiece you were sure it was.

I have some amazing readers, the most thorough of which is my truly fabulous agent. I'm on my second round of revisions for her on my Too Hot For YA WIP. But the thing is, the first time I sent it to her, it was 76K words. Based on her notes, I revised and it grew to 90K. In this second round, I just passed 97K and it feels like the manuscript (not the story) is starting to take on a life of its own. (The story has always had a life of its own.) At this point, I'm pretty sure I'll hit 100K before I'm done.

Manuscript length is a hotly debated topic, but the truth is there's no "right" word count. But the thing is, whether your manuscript is 50K or 150K, each word has to count. Padding word counts is something I hear people talk about, but I don't understand it. If anything, I'd think as an author, we'd want to cut word counts. If I can tell the same story in less words while preserving the nuances of setting, emotion and turmoil, why would I want to tell it in more?

So, my last pass before I send this back to my truly fabulous agent and my amazing critique partner will be to cull out anything that's not essential to character development or plot progression.

I'm curious. Have there been books you read where you thought they were either too short or too long? Without naming names (unless you want to) why were you left with that impression?