We've touched on this topic in this space before here at The Byproduct, but I think this excellent post on the reasons Jessica Faust rejects work bears a little bit of a closer look. This post is about some of the general guidelines the publishing industry uses in establishing the marketability of a particular work. I think it makes sense that there is a baseline length that plays a (small) part in the discussion on where a book fits into the marketplace. I also think that it makes sense that a writer should ultimately fashion the story in the frame (whether that's 70,000 words or 150,000) that best suits it.
The think I'm most impressed with is Faust's final assertion that the story itself needs to be original. Not your platform (though that's very important for different reasons) or your games with language, but your story. She writes:
Essentially, though, your query has to have two things to make me ask to see more. It has to have an interesting and different concept and it has to be well written. It has to give me a sense that when I get the book I already know the writing is going to be solid.
So in this case, we see that the story needs to be unique and it needs to be well told. Duh, right? But I think putting the story first is sometimes lost in the discussion. We've discussed writing to trends and discussed the classic themes and types of conflict, but at the center of the issue is whether the story holds up. And for horror writers, that includes whether it blends the elements of fear, fright and anxiety with a unique plot or cast of characters.
I've talked a little about my drafting process, and I do feel comfortable that I'm taking this WIP in a direction that will set it apart from other works of supernatural suspense. My target for first draft is 80,000 words, and I expect it'll end up around that number when I'm through revising.
Where are you guys on your writing? Where will it go, and how are you getting there? Shoot me some insights on process, if you get a chance...
Also, a brief note on programming. I'll be out of the loop for holiday merry-making between November 22 and November 29. Oh, I might pop in on the weekend to chat Ducks and review a movie (The Mist) but that's about it.