Down in the comment trail, someone asks:
. . . how do you judge if your plot is long enough? if you've got enough scenes or enough things going on to make a full length novel? This is a problem for me because I end up never writing because I've fretted over the story to death, wondering over the length.
Now, the short answer is; everybody has to find this out for themselves.
|The Writer's Journey ... if the writer is a dog|
This is the writer's 'prentice work. This is the garage band years. Among the very many things we're learning on this first leg of our writing journey is how many words it takes us to get a particular bit of plot action across.
We sit down and put words on the page and -- hey -- we find out that a fight with six bad guys in a back alley needs 2000 words. A love scene, on the other hand, just keeps stretching out and stretching out till it logs in at 8000. Walking across a street might be 30 words of action in one scene and the same 30-ish words plus 1000 words of introspection in another.
|Some of those half million words, y'know|
-- did I mention we serve a half-million-word apprenticeship? --
we get a practical sense of how much heft different sorts of scene are going to add to the manuscript. We get a storyteller's 'feel' for how words run the pacing to build that narrative drive we want so much.
I guess maybe this wasn't the short answer after all.
Okay. Short answer:
Everybody writes differently and you won't know how many words it takes you to write your action until you've done some writing.
Will you be one of those excellent writers who shoot through 60 plot points in 70,000 words and the reader does not feel rushed? Or will you be one who tells essentially the same story in 120,000 words and not one of those words is trimable excess?
All that said -- and wasn't that a lot of 'all'? -- I am not going to condemn you to months and years of writing before you get an answer to your question.
No. I am not going to do that.
Because I know that would discourage me and I see no reason why it wouldn't be daunting to even the brave soul I imagine you to be.
|Sure to be interesting scenes in your story|
-- scenes that you are particularly fond of and can picture very well --
and see how many words you use.
This will give you a ballpark estimate of your action-to-words ratio . . . remembering that your first ratio is not necessarily where you are going to end up after a year of hard work writing and thinking.
Two common problems writers may start out with are being prolix, (that is, being tediously lengthy, long-winded, verbose, flowery, writerly, indirect and generally slowing the pacing to a crawl,) or, on the other hand, telegraphing the story, (which is talking about the action and racing along, never adding the description and internals and suchlike that draw the reader in.)
The first sort of writer comes up with 257,000-word Historicals. The second, with 45,000-word Contemporary Romances. Both of these are ... problematic when it comes to selling them.
But, while the gift of storytelling is just that -- a gift -- and inborn, the craft of writing can be learned. (Though 'prolix' may end up being fixed by your long-suffering editor who pulls out the blue pencil and just crosses out paragraph after paragraph of internal nattering.)
(Ask me how I know this.)
What's important here is that these technique problems and many others get fixed only after you lay down words to fix. No draft material lined up in neat pixels on the screen = no way to learn how to lean down or buff up the prose. No way to acquire the fine art of padding a too-short manuscript with an exciting subplot. No set of deft editing scalpels with which to cut away the excess.
Write because you delight in writing. Let the story come as it will. Trust that you will solve whatever technical problems beset you.
And if in the end you discover that your 'natural' writing length is epic fantasy or novella --
We live in exciting times. There's a market for writing at about all lengths.
stack of paper attrib elchupacabrito