The romantic novel must be seen primarily as a historical phenomenon, but the romantic style and spirit, once they had been brought into being, remained powerful and attractive enough to sustain a whole subspecies of fiction. The aim of romantic fiction is less to present a true picture of life than to arouse the emotions through a depiction of strong passions, or to fire the imagination with exotic, terrifying, or wonderful scenes and events.
Twentieth-century romantic fiction records few masterpieces. Writers like Daphne du Maurier , the author of Jamaica Inn , Rebecca , and many others, are dismissed as mere purveyors of easy dreams. Despite the attempts of Lawrence Durrell to achieve a kind of decadent romantic spirit in his Alexandria Quartet , the strong erotic feeling, the exotic setting , the atmosphere of poetic hallucination, the pain, perversion, and elemental force seem to be contrivances, however well they fulfill the original romantic prescription. Stendhal and Balzac , on the other hand, admit no dreams and present life in a grim nakedness without poetic drapery.
Little comes right for the just or the weak, and base human nature is unqualified by even a modicum of good. But there is a kind of affirmative richness and energy about both writers that seems to belie their pessimistic thesis. In England, George Eliot in her novel Middlemarch —72 viewed human life grimly, with close attention to the squalor and penury of rural life.
George Eliot does not accept any notion of Divine Providence, whether Christian or pantheistic, but her work is instinct with a powerful moral concern: her characters never sink into a deterministic morass of hopelessness, since they have free will , or the illusion of it. With Thomas Hardy , who may be termed the last of the great 19th-century novelists, the determinism is all-pervasive, and his final novel, Jude the Obscure , represents the limit of pessimism. Behind him one is aware of the new science, initiated by the biologists Charles Darwin and T. Huxley, which displaces man as a free being, capable of choice, by a view of him as the product of blind mechanistic forces over which he has little control.
Realism in the Existentialist fiction of 20th-century France, for instance, makes man not merely wretched but absurd, yet it does not diminish his power of self-realization through choice and action.
Realism has frequently been put in the service of a reforming design, which implies a qualified optimism. War novels, novels about the sufferings of the oppressed in prison, ghetto, totalitarian state , studies of human degradation that are bitter cries against man-made systems—in all of these the realistic approach is unavoidable, and realistic detail goes much further than anything in the first realists.
The novels of Sinclair and Remarque reflect the 20th century, which saw the origin of all wrong in the human will, and set on a program of diagnosis and reform. The hardest part of a novel is an encapsulating idea. How many others were published? Those books worked because the writers possessed the skill to craft an entire story using the most sparse prose possible. Most people simply are not capable of that. I am using this number count as a benchmark for my own storybook. One question, though.
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What about a fantasy YA? What about an historical novel. Do you really think writing an historical that is epic-like can be done in less than , words? This is one of the most disappointing articles I have read. It seems there is no room to write an epic that covers thousands of years in one book. There are exceptions.
Once you start making everybody money, word count becomes less important. This is a dreadful trend.
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But length has nothing whatever to do with quality, or pacing, or story content. I know as a reader, I am never put off by how long a novel appears to be. Some stories offer full immersion, and are not meant to be quick reads. No wonder so many people—including already-published authors—are planning to go the self-publishing route for their new work.
I edit my own work to within an inch of its life, down or up to whatever word count that works best for my story. Thank you for writing this. I made an account here just to write a comment, and you said exactly what I was going to say. Very much agree. The list, of course, goes on and on and on. I worry more about the pacing, telling the best possible story, and having fun doing so. But my first novel, an historical fiction with two main characters, easily broke , words. I know there are plenty of writers who have written works much longer than mine; names such as Wally Lamb, Stephen King, Thomas Pynchon, and David Foster Wallace come to mind.
Or maybe I just need to keep looking until I find my ideal agent. He said authors like Stephen King and J. Rowling have written longer novels. He also pointed to their first novel. How long was Carrie? Maybe 70k words. What Chuck emphasized is that for every novel published over k words, hundreds are not. So unless you have written an eye popping novel, Chuck suggests following a simple rule.
To be a published author is one of the hardest things someone can do. There are millions, maybe tens of millions that have tried it and failed. All Chuck is suggesting is to follow a simple word count range to increase your chances of getting noticed. Agents are not on the lookout for the unknown writing genius.
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It is not a quest for them, it is just a job. My small book is k and the largest is k and they are in a four book series totaling , words with map illustrations readers like those maps but agents, publishers and printers do not like the increased file size that comes with them…. Do you need an agent? I sacked that notion some time ago and sold my sheets of stamps.
I pay the bills with Kindle, ePub and iBook sales, not paper although I have paperback and hard cover versions. No film deals or private jet and no sign that the essential first step to those, the NYT best seller list, will ever happen. Keep writing LeftWrite, that is all any of us can do, but be aware of what gets under the bar and what does not if your go the traditional route. Oh goodness, I was worried I would make my book too long, but when I saw the word count for fantasy novels I realized I was aiming a little on the short side 90, words.
It is very helpful. Hi, I was just wondering if age affects how publishing companies look at your word count. I am sixteen, and my novel is 80k words long.
I have done a good job of editing it, and everyone who has reviewed it has said that it is very good. This is my first book, so I am rather naive about the publishing thing. Can anybody offer some welcome advice to a novice author? Another teenager who thinks this is the one.
But realize this, you are most certainly competing with older people and you are expected to be just as good, because no one is judging you by your age. Age has absolutely nothing to do with getting published. Your age has nothing to do with how good a book is. You have to compete with many people that are older than you in whatever genre you looking atwriting for.
You will be published, or not, based on the merits of your work. I am not sure if the content would fit into the guise of YA or adult. Does word count really matter that much to publishers?