Spring arrived in Oregon and the tulips were blooming. Perfect weather dawned on Sunday with the Tulip Festival in full swing. A spontaneous decision…we should go. What could go wrong? Fresh air, beautiful flowers, and wine all sounded lovely.
Unfortunately, half of Oregon came to the same conclusion.
Rolling along at the breakneck speed of three mph behind a congo line of cars, we enjoyed the passing country scenery–for hours.
Lots of colorful tulips covered the fields as far as the eye could see, and the swarming mass of humanity reminded me of the huge reader potential out there. I just had to figure out a way to tap into it.
Maybe offer a tulip if they purchase a book? Nah… Tulips are tender.
Nevertheless, there was a party atmosphere, and we had a fun time.
Authors face life circumstances such as this that unexpectedly interrupt their writing schedule. After all, they have family and a life outside of writing, but it means they have to be aware of such events when they set their schedule and build in flex.
Another situation taking time away from writing was the book I chose for this week. Neal Stephenson ‘s D.O.D.O. jumped off the library shelf into my hands, causing me to stagger backward. Eight hundred and fifty some pages is a doorstopper of a novel, and a novel that may stop a lot of readers from picking it up .
It brought up the topic in our writing group : Just how long should a novel be?
The expected answer is : As long as it takes to finish the story.
However, Nathan Bransford, who writes a popular blog, lined out suggested lengths.
Chapter Books (i.e. pre-Middle Grade) – 5,000 – 20,000
Fantasy – 80,000 – 120,000
General Fiction – 75,000 – 100,000
Historical Fiction – 80,000 – 120,000
Literary Fiction – 40,000 – 120,000
Middle Grade – 30,000 – 60,000
Mystery – 75,000 – 90,000
Novella – 20,000 – 40,000
Romance – 50,000 – 90,000
Science Fiction– 90,000 – 120,000
Thriller – 80,000 – 100,000
Young Adult – 60,000 – 80,000
I felt the length of D.O.D.O to be too long and it really didn’t end satisfactorily. The story is about how a collection of individuals work on a top secret program that uses time travel to try to bring magic back into the world. Set in the near future, they go back in history to collect witches that they use to send and bring back selected people who fiddle with history.
Different chapters use letters, memos, transcripts, and various forms of communications to reveal the different viewpoints in the story. There is hilarity in the differing perceptions.
You have your bright, intelligent main character who is a linguist and your handsome military undercover male. They form a romantic interest. The arrogant professor wanting control and the headstrong witch who doesn’t put up with anyone ‘s nonsense provide humor. Trying to keep everything under control and under wraps is the strong military brass. Of course when you start messing with time, trouble happens…and then compounds.
How Stephenson handles time travel is also interesting. He has many dimensions side by side that vary slightly. As the one traveling changes circumstances, they create other different time dimensions.
I enjoyed it because I like books on time travel, but toward the end, I felt the story dragged.
There will obviously be a sequel as nothing was really resolved. I’m not sure I’m ready to put in the time.
7 responses to “Time Travel Review”
Happy Spring, Sheron… finally. 🙂
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Are you outside munching strawberries and reading in the sun?
I love Spring and Summer here.
We had a couple of days of blazing sunshine here. I sat on the patio with hard rock blasting on my headphones and churned out ten thousand words. Then the rains came and my wordcount plummeted.
I stress that’s my first draft, very rough. Some fast-writing authors imply they pour out ten thousand words of polished, publishable pages ready for the readers’ eyes every day. Don’t fall for it: quantity does not equal quality.
“Just how long should a novel be?” I write till the tale is told. Any more is padding. But then I have to fit the result into the various categories you list
Ten thousand words is quite a churn. Writing is tricky. I don’t find that speed and quality equate either way. Sometimes, I get inspired and the words flow like liquid gold…and then there are other days where I squeeze out awkward sentences a drip at a time.
I wonder how the weather impacts writing. Our recent sunshine has inspired me to. Not to ten thousand, but maybe I should add the rock music. What songs were you playing?
Mainly Springsteen, Steely Dan, Ace, Eagles, Stranglers, Stones… depending on the flavor I want for the scene. Yeah, oldies. I’m so last-millennium. Also Pete Atkin (a little-known, mixed-genre guy from the 70’s whose best songs make the heart ache).
Spring is so pretty in Oregon! It’s spring here also, one of the warmest on record – although it’s cooling again.
I’m in the position of needing to trim about 20k to fit into the upper fantasy wordcount for Weaver after the rewrites. The good thing is, I love editing! 🙂
Today was perfect. Mid 70s. Finally, the sunshine days outnumber the rainy ones here. I blew out some pine cones and leaves from our wooded backyard.
Actually, I like editing too. It’s like carving refinements on a sculpture piece. Good that you’re writing.
Love to hear from you.