Two Dilemmas


Man of Artistic Fingers
Jun 14, 2016
Phoenix, Arizona
I was thinking about a suggestion that a friend made and that was to make two books out of my one. Considering how big it is at 193K words I thought that it was a good idea.

I went back to my 190k novel. I found a place where I could cut it reducing the word count to 144,944 words. Again I did a web search and discovered that 144k is still too much for a fantasy novel. However, I now have two dilemmas. The first I think I can solve by reducing the first book of its 144k to 100k or maybe to 95k.

My second dilemma is another story. Reducing my book left me with less than 50k words. Fifty thousand words makes a very small book. Also I feel it would make a cheap ant-climax for the reader of the first book. I don't want to do what some authors do and that is pad my novel with unnecessary material.

Any ideas that will keep me from being a cheap novelist?


Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Nov 23, 2002
IMO there's no point worrying about wordcounts - just ensure you use the least number of words required to tell that story. Splitting up a story into two halves could be a problem, because that could leave the first book as little more than Act 1 and 2a, which are basically setting the scene and introducing the characters, and not meant to standalone.


Cat whisperer
Nov 23, 2011
Sitting in the sun (between the rain storms)
Word counts are a minefield of conflicting advice. I have had one agent rejection that said 'no chance' due to length, but that same novel got interest from another who finally rejected because they couldn't work out how to pitch it, and a publisher who said the pacing needed work and re-submit if I can sort that. So, word count is clearly an issue for some in the industry, and not for others.

My suspicion is that if your novel grabs someone's attention but the length is an issue, they will probably discuss trimming, but until then I would say write the book, edit down as far as you can without degrading the story, and then try subbing.

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
Dec 7, 2011
It depends, I feel, on where you are in your editing process. My first draft was about 200k, but since then every draft since has seen loads being cut out. Currently I am set to make it now a tidy 125k.

So, if you are just at the end of the first draft, I would take Brian's advice and work on the story and make it better and better. My experience is that as part of that process you will find that you have actually written too much and a lot can be easily cut out - whether it's far too much description, too many characters or convoluted plots and discussions that don't really go anywhere! A good extra pair of fresh eyes, whether your own or another person, is very helpful at this stage.

However, on the other hand, if you continually re-draft and it still remains at that length, and feedback from readers is that it's all working, then that's the time to worry about cutting things up into different parts.

K.S. Crooks

Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2014
Have someone else read your work to see if any of your story contains any needless descriptions, dialogue that doesn't advance the story or enhance the characters, or sections completely irrelevant to the story. Whatever your left with is your story regardless of the length.


candycane shrimp
Dec 10, 2012
x(squared)+y(squared)=r(squared) : when x~infinity
To be honest, when splitting a novel into two that suggests you have two stories to tell.
That much said; splitting the whole into two is not just a matter of dice and splice.
There are usually elements woven into the story in the first half that are pertinent to the second half.
When I split mine the first time, this held true.
There were a few items I could leave in--because they worked okay as far as not needing immediate resolution.
However, most needed to be plucked away and reintegrated into the final portion, or even discarded entirely.
I suspect if you look close enough you will see that you have something in the first half that would just as easily wait for the second half and the two halves might just balance out close enough for two novels.
Then there will probably be a number of things you can just toss entirely.


Member and remember
Mar 25, 2013
Might it divide into thirds? No matter where you cut, though, rewriting (and probably additional writing) will be needed. You can't just guillotine the thing and expect both parts to walk away.
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