On 50,000 Words

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The Script For Today's Comic!

On Writing 50,000 Words

Karla is typing. Tom enters the room.

TOM: Whatcha doing?

KARLA: Writing my National Novel Writing Month novel.

TOM (sarcastically): Oh. That.

KARLA (offended slightly, but not too much – she’s confident enough in the concept just to be curious about what Tom could find offensive this time): What’s wrong with NaNoWriMo?

TOM: The 50,000 word goal. It’s such a stupid number. The bare minimum you need for a salable novel for most publishers is 80,000 words.

TOM: Get to the end and you’ll have a novel, but not one that you’d ever see in book form. You’d never catch Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman shooting for 50,000 words.

KARLA (archly): So are you saying that real fantasy writers should write more words, not less?

TOM: No, I have a different plan in mind for them.

SCENE: Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin are chained to a wooden table in a place where we can see watchtowers and guards in the background, looking very much like an S.S. prison camp. Tom is standing next to them, a clipboard in his hand, looking serious.

TOM: All right, Mr. Martin and Mr. Jordan – you have three months to write a 120,000-word book that finishes up your plotlines. Fail to finish or go one word over, and the snipers will finish your story for you. Have a nice day.

Ferrett Says

Yes, I know that strictly speaking what Tom says is not accurate. But as someone who’s shopping his own novel around, I can tell you that the word count does appear to be pretty constant, at least at the big publishers.

If you’re a big publisher who loves the strip? *puts fingers up to ear, phone-style, and whispers* Call me.

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