Sound, Length and Beyond!

16 07 2011

 Volume:  The magnitude of the three-dimensional space enclosed within or occupied by an object.

Volume:  A collection of written or printed sheets bound together and constituting a book.

Volume:  Fullness or intensity of tone or sound

Guess which one I’m going to talk about. The third one, exactly! My neighbors play their Bob Marley waaaaaay too loud at 3 A.M. I can hardly hear myself drafting books over here!

HA! No, I’m not talking about that one (Though my neighbors do actually play there Bob Marley at way too loud at all points of the day.) I’m talking about the second one. And not just volume as it pertains to encyclopedias. More specifically, the volume of writing in just one work.

There are no set standards telling us how long a novel must be to be considered a novel. Actually, that’s a lie – there are but there are no universally accepted guidelines. Different genres accept different lengths, which makes sense. I don’t think that Tom Clancy will be releasing any children’s books as his tend to look suspiciously like dictionaries from afar.

Young Adult differs in length from your standard sci-fi/fantasy novels with certain exceptions – the later books in J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series actually look like she may have taken pointers from Clancy. And those omnipresent “Lust in the Dust” novels(a market guaranteed to never die) run just over Young Adult lengths.

So I’m stuck. I’m writing things that slide into an eerie space in between genre averages. The rule should be write enough to tell your story and not make it feel forced right? It seems the answer is yes, it just that it becomes potentially restricting to your target markets when you don’t play by the guidelines. That’s not to say its impossible but with “unknowns” its certainly more likely.  That’s part of my volume issues anyways. The second part is is length of segments, those silly little things we call chapters.

Rules for chapter length, like the overall length of the work, fall under a similar rule. Each chapter should be long enough to effectively advance the action in a manner that makes sense and provides enough detail to keep the reader interested. Some say, it depends on the pacing that you’re trying to establish. Seriously! Vague, vague, VAGUE.

On one hand, I suppose I should be greatful for such openendedness. The freedom to write whatever, at any length and still be able to find a platform for publication. So how much does it really matter that the epic, adult fantasy novel that you might be working on ends up being too short and falling instead into something more along the lines of Young Adult in length? Well it might not neccesarily matter. Publication is publication and just because something may be falling short of the typical minimum length for a genre doesn’t mean it will miss out on the category anyways.

So here I am, trying to figure out if I should beef up the length of my chapters. They’re falling within the ‘average’ for chapter length in the genre in which I’m writing but, at the same time, they seem light sitting there staring at me in Open Office. I’m guessing it’ll work out alright. Especially since edits usually trim content, not add to it. Maybe I’m just being paranoid…

Either way, if I can figure out why it looks so goofy, I’ll let you know. Oh and don’t forget, post tomorrow, there were hints!