Oh my! I’ve been proving the truth of this verse far too much this year! I had such big plans for how much writing I’d get done this summer. All charted out in a carefully laid-out schedule, complete with a target word count or editing goal for every day.
Um, no. Seems God wanted me doing other stuff instead! Between my health issues and my husband’s health issues, my creativity took an extended vacation. Last week, I deleted most of my beautiful schedule. I’m so thankful that ideas are finally popping again. Time to get back to work. But the only way to possibly get all the books for multi-author projects I’ve committed to done on time will be to write just that bit shorter.
My friend Alexa Verde and I had an email discussion last week about the challenges of writing shorter but satisfying romances when we’re used to writing longer ones. Writing Christian romance makes it a little tougher – we need to fit in the faith elements, too! I’d love to hear what you think as a reader about story length.
Most of my stories are long novellas, between 35,000 and 40,000 words (around 150 to 180 paperback pages). I have a few that fall into the short novel category. My longest story is 68,000 words (around 250 pages). Those are mostly my first written and published Christian romances, after quite a few “practice” books that would need very big changes to ever be published. The editor I worked with at the time taught me a huge amount, and I’m so grateful for that. But she always wanted me to write more, more, more!
The wonderful editor I work with now, Deidre Lockhart, always tells me when more words are needed, but she’s a lot more likely to rein me back from overwriting. Since working with her, I’ve tended to write shorter books. I felt comfortable with the long novella, and it seemed my “natural” length. So much so that when last year I sat down last year to write Least Expected, aiming for a 12,000 to 15,000 word novelette to give as a gift to my new subscribers, I ended up writing 38,000 words.
Twice as long as I planned! Oops!
So earlier this year, when I felt guided to write a story for the First Street Church Romances, part of Kindle Worlds, and heard the target word count was 25,000 words (less than 100 pages!) I prayed hard. How could I fit my story into that few words? The characters I’d committed to writing about had conflicts way too big and too much to overcome in so few pages, when I’d been accustomed to write so much longer. Also I know some readers find short romances feel unrealistic and rushed.
The solution I found for this story meant giving them a lot of history. Jumping over any “getting to know you” stage entirely, and getting them working through the issues that kept them apart from each other and from God a lot faster than I usually did. Thanks to God’s leading and much-appreciated support from my editor and my critique partner, the book I ended up with, Love’s Healing Touch, has been well reviewed. So far my readers seem to have found that this shorter-length read is still a complete and satisfying romance. Phew!
But my next challenges are even bigger. Or maybe that should be smaller!
I also hope to write a Christmas romance in the same series, where the target word count for authors in this launch is just 15,000 words. That’s not even 50 pages! I’m getting in practice now for this length story by working on a new novelette to offer as another subscriber gift. My aim is to make this one even shorter, 12,000 words if I can. Gotta admit, I’m finding it tough. Fewer pages to play with to get to that ahh-worthy happy ending can make writing slower, not faster!
So I’m curious. As a reader, do you have a preferred book length? What are some very short but satisfying romances you’ve read and can recommend? One comment on this post before September 21 will win a free ebook copy of Love’s Healing Touch.
And if you’re not already on my subscriber list and would like to be, you can sign-up here!