What Does Reader Want

I can’t prove it, partly because for the last year I’ve been in an endless spin-cycle of Jane Austen Fanfic (with occasional pokes above the spin, and reading non JAFF for a week or two) but for the last several years, I’ve had the growing suspicion that people never went away from pulp. Publishers did.

Don’t judge me on the Austen fanfic. There is some magnificent JAFF, some of it the easy equivalent of other romance or fantasy books, or even mystery. (No, they are not all primarily romance, thought the usual pairings are accomplished.) And there’s some truly, spectacularly, awful JAFF. But the important thing, when in a state of semi-depression is that the books are utterly predictable. Which frankly is what I need when not quite functioning. (Semi-depression, because when utterly depressed what I actually read is Dinosaur-intensive non fiction. No, I have no idea why. Except it’s hard to have demands on your emotions when reading about extinct critters.)

So even though I’ve read endless indie-published series of everything from fantasy to mystery, I can’t prove it, because I can’t remember names and titles. (Mostly because I read these on Kindle Unlimited otherwise my habit is hard to afford.)

To be fair, I have a lousy memory for names of authors and titles, which makes it very hard to figure out when something new comes out on a series I enjoyed. The Amazon tracker — for me at least — is hit or miss. And most newsletters don’t even get delivered. (We’ve been talking about an app for this stuff. We’ll see.)

But having fallen into various indie series, this is the impression I came away with — feel free to b*tch slap me with a dead mackerel if I’m utterly wrong —

1- Books have gotten shorter.
I don’t precisely have an issue with it. Heck, I have paid $4,99 — knowingly — for a book that was about 60k words. It’s not a bad price, and the book was decent.
The idea that a book had to be 100k words, later revised to 80k words, was a creation of trad pub and I’m not sure when it started but it is relatively recent, Because books were essentially sold on consignment, and because of the costs of paper, printing and shipping, I guess it didn’t make sense to print smaller books.

However, after we learned to count words on a printed book, my husband went through our bookshelves, and most Rex Stout books were under 60k. As were most of Simak’s. Heck, a couple of them were about 20k.

The length of the book doesn’t count, but the enjoyment between the pages. And for that, the story should be as long as it needs to be. I’d rather read a fast-paced perfectly constructed 30k word novel than a plodder where someone went through that novel and added uneeded description and basically two unrelated short stories in the middle.

Now, of course, I will not charge 6.99 for 20k words, because people will consume 20k words in a couple of hours, and they should get more enjoyment our of nearly $7. (On the other hand movies charge at least that much, but bah. Different standards.)

2- While novels will contain character development (most of the time. There’s a type of action novel that doesn’t call for it) that development will be over the series, while each “episode” will concentrate on a minuscule fashion.

Of course, the weird thing is I’ve read oh, um mystery series because I wanted to know if the girl would end up with the detective. So, you know, characters are still important and should be appealing, but you can space them.

3- A lot less attempted “commentary” on contemporary problems or politics. Oh, some authors still do it. But there isn’t an attempt to dress up a genre story as something more “significant.”
That is actually a lot more revolutionary than you might think, since publishers used to want the book to feel “like more” before they gave it even a modicum of push.

4- Series. Series. Series.
One interesting thing at least for mysteries and romances, is that writers have taken to releasing a set of books as a “season” at least for purposes of packaging and selling.

5- Predictability.
Publishers, though often lying, mind you, liked to say they wanted the books to be “unpredictable”. They wanted the ending to surprise them.
Which is how we arrived at a place where romances try to surprise people by not having a happily ever after, and mysteries reveal that the good guy is in fact worse than the villain. Or something. Indie is remarkably free of this illusion which means that their books are more predicable, which frankly real readers in general don’t mind, provided the journey is entertaining.

So, am I imagining it? Because if I am not imagining it, then the way to do well in indie is to go back to the plots/pacing and general habits of pulp. I know there are writers who are convinced of this, and who sell several pulp-formulas.

I honestly don’t know if this will turn out to be true or not. Heck, I’m not sure the readers collectively and individually know that yet. Because you know, things are changing so fast they might have trouble telling you exactly what they like and why (I understand in 2020 Won, for instance, escapist literature has done a whole lot better.)

BUT if it’s true, then traditional publishing sold themselves, and us, a pot of message, at the expense of turning off a lot of readers and destroying enjoyment in fiction reading.

I guess time will tell.

For now, I’m THIS close to finishing the cursed book, so I’m going to go off and do that.

89 comments

  1. Yep. Or at least that’s pretty much the length I write. And I have sort of internalized the Hero’s Journey and when I get stuck I bring it out and make sure I’ve hit a reasonable number of points or at least three try-fail sequences. 40 to 60K for most of my stuff.

    Mind you, if it doesn’t get stuck it doesn’t get check-listed. But yeah. Pulp lives

    1. Because I always buy it if it has your name on it, I often don’t notice the price (Buy Now with 1-Click is certainly a good idea – from Amazon’s perspective). There have been times when I almost trip when I hit the end of a book. What? It’s over? Already?
      The first few times, I did go back and check the price, which was reasonable. Now, I just grumble and hope a short book means the next one is already on the way.
      As for a series, I LOVE series, which may have something to do with being an Uphoff fanboi. I just measured off the first 56 paperbacks on my bookshelf: Over four feet. Good thing I have a Kindle, now.

  2. I seem to run 60K to 80K for my “sweet spot.” Enough length to cover the topic and details, not so long as to have lots of padding. Except . . . Wolf will be 20K or so, because that’s how long the story wants to be. *shrug* Which I suspect is how long the “I’m so peeved I could do this better” book would be minus the X-Rated chunks and the pages of angsting.

      1. Sort of. I have Separate documents with names, places, attributes, and so on, but no master Series Bible. (Not that it always saves me from awkward moments and facepawing.)

  3. A journey into the unknown is called an expedition. It demands more focus from the participants than a journey from London to Canterbury.

  4. “Publishers, though often lying, mind you, liked to say they wanted the books to be “unpredictable”. They wanted the ending to surprise them. Which is how we arrived at a place where romances try to surprise people by not having a happily ever after, and mysteries reveal that the good guy is in fact worse than the villain.”

    For a while at least, TVTropes had one of the best quotes on this sort of unpredictability. I can’t find it now, so quoting from memory:

    “It’s like if you called Pizza Hut and ordered a large pepperoni, and they delivered a newspaper. Yeah, it was unexpected, but it doesn’t leave you wanting to order from them again.”

    If you want to surprise your readers, give them a free 2-liter of soda or an extra order of breadsticks or maybe even a second layer of pepperoni baked into the crust. But make darn sure that they get the large pepperoni pizza they asked for.

    1. *Thumbs up* I mentioned something like this in a worldbuilding post – that if you’re offering romance and the reader wants Action!, make sure they can figure out yours is a romance by the cover, or at the very least the first few sample pages. That way they don’t feel like they wasted their time, and if they do later want Romance, they know who to come back to.

      1. Part of the issue with A Few Good Men is that they gave it a mil sf cover, so I have people complaining I don’t show battles.
        Well, the book was explicitly “another take on the moon is a harsh mistress” which ALSO doesn’t show battles.
        BUT the cover is mil sf, so it promises things I didn’t. And probably turned away readers that would have loved the book, btw.

      2. One of the few bad reviews I left was because the author hinted at a HEA and instead did “nukes fall, everybody dies.” (Except for the main protagonists, which would have been fine if she hadn’t made us care about the secondary characters who got killed off.) I was thinking it was going to be hard to pull it off, and she couldn’t.

        Don’t mess up the readers’ expectations that badly.

        1. At least with David Weber, when you get a secondary character with a lot of back-story and really start to like him or her, you know darn well that the character’s not going to live to see the last page of the book.

        2. Recently returned a book to Kindle Unlimited about 15-20 percent finished. It was a fantasy book where the MC is amnesiac and it was strongly hinted that he was a villain before his downfall and injury, but that the story is supposed to be one of redemption.

          A family of farmers takes him into their home for the night, extends hospitality, feeds him and sends him on his way.

          A little later, the MC runs across a female vampire. It’s clear she kills innocent people to preserve her own life, but the MC not only spares her life, he warns her away from the hunting party that’s after her and points her TOWARD the family of farmers that just helped him.

          Because she’s a poor hunted outcast so we’re automatically supposed to feel for her I guess.

          Also she’s hot.

          And okay she’s reluctant about killing and didn’t choose to be a vampire (and it’s sort of hinted that the MC might need her to discover more about himself and what happened to him), but the MC doesn’t even attempt to reform her or make her promise to stop killing innocents, or even hesitate to set her on the people who helped him (and who are quite reasonably terrified of her and want her dead).

          I didn’t have the time to leave a review and couldn’t without spoilers…and maybe I’ll even go back to the book at some point (the world and the mystery was intriguing, and maybe it was just a beginning writer’s mistake) but that scene really turned me off the hero like a slap in the face.

          1. Good Lord. One can only guess that the writer had never woken up in the morning having discovered someone broke into their house in the middle of the night.
            I was lucky. Me and baby were ignored in favor of my purse.
            I was even more lucky: they stole my purse but left my car keys (not in purse) sitting on the kitchen counter so I still had easy access to my car.
            Even luckier: when I got my new SSN card, I discovered that SSN did not have me listed in the correct citizenship category! (US Citizen born overseas). I got that fixed.

            But still, stories like this make me want to shout: you’ve never been robbed!
            Idiot. Monsters kill people. That’s why they’re monsters.

    2. YES!

      This is what I was trying to find a way to say– different for the sake of being different isn’t great just because it’s different.

      It has to do the job, and then give you something you didn’t expect.

      But it always has to do the job, first.

  5. Friend reads modern Chinese fantasy fiction. There, a “short” novel runs a million words, or a mere 100 chapters. She’s in the middle of one right now that’s 13,000 chapters and counting (yes, really). The big draw is the multi-layered characters, and plot that derives entirely from character (generally with at least one who is covertly heroic, usually against horrible odds). From her descriptions they’re pure escapist pulp, and it’s gotta be mighty durn popular to churn out such volume and still keep an (apparently rabid) audience.

    Predictable is =restful= to the tired mind. I’d never understood the popularity of certain TV shows (in fact, thought ’em supremely boring) until I worked a job with very long hours… I’d come home Friday night and find myself happily watching (egads!) Baywatch and The Dukes of Hazzard, which proved exactly right to unwind by — enough action to keep the brain semi-engaged, but absolutely nothing unexpected that I might have to actually =think= about. Gave me a new perspective on Know Your Audience.

    1. This. So much. When my brain is tired, I’ll often go reread or re-watch something I know is good, because my brain’s too tired for surprises but I still need to be mentally “elsewhere” for a while.

        1. If you want pulpy-fun mind candy on TV, there’s nothing better than a couple of hours of those silly History Channel and Discovery Channel pseudo-science series, like “Curse of Oak Island” or “Expedition Unknown.” A lot of people sneer at these and suggest that anyone who likes them is an idiot, but those folks just don’t understand. If you view them as entertainment, not documentaries, they’re loads of fun.

          The trend toward doorstopper SF novels started, I think, in the mid-1980s, when publishers realized that they could charge more for a thicker book, and even more for thicker volumes-of-a-series. The thundering success of mainstream-fiction doorstoppers like Clancy’s _Red Storm Rising_ didn’t help.

    2. Oddly enough, I’m reading something written by a westerner in one of the Chinese genres, which is ongoing, 1.5 million words, and just hit chapter 100. It is also broken into volumes, and we may be nearing the end of volume three.

      Rith’s Memories of the Fall is a xianxia/epic fantasy/mythos dungeon crawl. Obviously very slow, and a lot of characters. A bunch of mystery as to what is actually going on.

      I’ve been trying to use careful rereading (with notes) and thinking about story structure to predict what will happen in upcoming updates. I’ve been very wrong in the specifics, but the broader patterns make a update seem in hindsight like it should have been predictable.

      So it is crunchy, surprising, and so far has also been a comfort read.

      1. I couldn’t find Rith’s Memories of the Fall on Amazon so I Googled it. Looks interesting!

    3. Can you provide a title/link to some of these novels? I might want to try one out.

      1. There’s a place called wuxiaworld, I think dot com.

        Other day, someone suggested Nine Star Hegemon Body Art as being fun and violent.

        For the xianxia genre, I liked “I Eat Tomatos”, a fairly prolific author. Er Gen also has a reputation for being good.

    4. Thank you! I don’t write in this genre but I can’t seem to stop myself until the story wants to stop: 235,000 words or so.

      I’ll tell my husband (my editor and publisher) that other people write longer than I do!

  6. Conan the Barbarian books. Pulp. Pulpy pulp. So much fun to read when you want to get out of your head for a while.

    I just went looking for some old John Maddox Roberts’ Conan books ’cause I wanted to read through things like that again. The paperback prices on Amazon were unreal. As in several hundred dollars!

    …Seriously considering looking up “how to do pulp” guides…..

    1. I actually thought of Conan whilst writing above… pulpy goodness that was my introduction to heroic fantasy.

  7. My roommate watches police procedurals and not only have “surprise” endings, they all have the same “surprise” ending.

    “Marginalized” person is accused of a crime. All the evidence points to the Black/gay/trans/whatever person being guilty, but the heroic investigators dig deeper and SURPRISE! it was really the privileged white male who did it. Seriously, that is the plot of a good 80% of the cop shows currently being produced. It’s gotten to where I can know who the killer is in the first five minutes–he’s going to be the most conservative looking white male in the cast.

    1. Once upon a time I read one of those ‘moar inclusion’ pieces demanding changes to the mystery genre, claiming that forensic evidence wasn’t scientific, and wanting instead solutions on the basis of psychological evidence. I got salty.

      Had a slight urge to write a fire investigation mystery series, where the culprit is always caught because they make bizarrely stupid choices in accelerent, that can be traced to a chemist synthesizing it from such and such precursors. Key bit of trolling was to be a hard right minority detective who summarizes the results at the end as being rooted in woke psychology. “The chemist was a poor black dude. And we know from woke claims that poorness causes the depravity of heart that causes criminals to act.”

      Of course, for the necessary effort, this trolling would be stupid and wasteful.

    2. That’s been true for at least two decades if not three. The white businessman did it. If there’s more than one white guy, and you’re unsure, look to see if one of them is wearing a cross. The cross is a dead giveaway.

      The conservative critic John Nolte used to call that “the liberal tell”; they can’t resist spoiling their plot in order to virtue-signal.

      1. I have a friend who once told me that no one needs to have actual investigation skills in modern TV police procedural shows. All they have to do is to look for someone who is white, religious (meaning Christian), supports the 2nd amendment, and wears a suit. That’s your killer.

        Heck back when I read Dick Tracy comics at least he had to prove that the ugliest guy in town had actually committed the murder.

        1. I cannot remember even what SERIES it was, but my mom and I both remember “That one time that Garak wasn’t the bad guy” episode.

          ….his character was some sort of outcast artist, and kinda gay, and so FREAKING OBVIOUSLY GUILTY from the stuff they put out….

          I honestly can’t remember if that was the “her kids killed her for Good Reasons” or the “murdered because theological reasons that don’t even connect with theology” one.

          1. I don’t even know who Garak is, so I can’t say anything about that.

            As for the rest — hah. Reminds me of the time I sent a relative into orbit because after the first five minutes of an early episode of ‘Supernatural’ twigged to who would live, who would die, and who the villain was out of five strangers one of the heroes meets. I was privately sure the writers couldn’t be that lazy and trite, so I watched it and was proved right on all scores. Last time I watched that show, to her annoyance. After all the two main characters are “just So Cute”. Urrgh.

            1. Oh, Garak’s just a plain, simple tailor.

              (Deep Space 9 character. Master snarker. Tells elaborate lies for fun. Played by the guy who was Scorpio in Dirty Harry, and Pin Head in Hellraiser. He’s REALLY GOOD at villains.)

              1. Wait a minute…Garak was PINHEAD?!?!?!

                *checks* No, that was Doug Bradley, unless there was a reboot I’m not aware of?

    3. Well, that, or it was a marginalized person who committed the crime, but they only committed the crime because of something bad that a privileged white male did.

      1. Oh yes. Particularly if the killer is a woman. Then the heroic investigators have to prove that the victim was abusive and the killing was perfectly justified.

        1. Copied/pasted from above, but the comment drew my attention:

          Recently returned a book to Kindle Unlimited about 15-20 percent finished. It was a fantasy book where the MC is amnesiac and it was strongly hinted that he was a villain before his downfall and injury, but that the story is supposed to be one of redemption.

          A family of farmers takes him into their home for the night, extends hospitality, feeds him and sends him on his way.

          A little later, the MC runs across a female vampire. It’s clear she kills innocent people to preserve her own life, but the MC not only spares her life, he warns her away from the hunting party that’s after her and points her TOWARD the family of farmers that just helped him.

          Because she’s a poor hunted outcast so we’re automatically supposed to feel for her I guess.

          Also she’s hot.

          And okay she’s reluctant about killing and didn’t choose to be a vampire (and it’s sort of hinted that the MC might need her to discover more about himself and what happened to him), but the MC doesn’t even attempt to reform her or make her promise to stop killing innocents, or even hesitate to set her on the people who helped him (and who are quite reasonably terrified of her and want her dead).

          I didn’t have the time to leave a review and couldn’t without spoilers…and maybe I’ll even go back to the book at some point (the world and the mystery was intriguing, and maybe it was just a beginning writer’s mistake) but that scene really turned me off the hero like a slap in the face.

    4. Dum, Dum! As Law & Order put it.
      Just not possible for the Person of Color to have carelessly ruined someone’s life. Always has to be a White person – either Christian (of the ‘icky’ variety), or Jewish. Lotta Jewish perps.

  8. I keep hearing about the producers, etc., trying to “push the envelope.” It never seems to occur to them that sometimes the envelope doesn’t need to be pushed, and in fact, might need a chance to relax and take the pressure off.

  9. Evidently, WordPress didn’t like my earlier comment.

    A journey with an unknown destination is called an expedition. And those require a lot more from those on the journey than a walk from London to Canterbury.

    Knowing where you’re going doesn’t keep you from enjoying a trip. In general, quite the opposite.

  10. Remember that back in the heyday of the pulps they could fit a “complete novel”, a couple of novelettes, and few short shorts into less than 200 pages. With room for illustrations, a letter column, and several pages of ads.

    1. I took a look at some of my own stuff – and oddly enough, the most popular are the Luna City series, which seem to run pretty consistently 50,000 – 60,000 words, and range from 200-240 pages in print version. People seem to like them at that length, and I can usually fit in an A plot, a B, sub-plot and a C-minor suggestion as a lead-in to the next. My historicals run longer – The Golden Road and My Dear Cousin at the lower end of slightly under 100,000 words, to The Quivera Trail at 180,000.
      Still not nearly in the same neighborhood as a goat-gagger for length as Diana Galbadon’s Outlander series, which I am slogging through. Good night, talk about needing an editor, excising whole chapters, or at least to have a couple of them broken into shorter books.

      1. Well, Diana got a huge advance for the first book and the whole interminable series still clutters up Amazon’s bestseller lists for historical fiction, so presumably her editors don’t want to mess with success.

        She started selling back in the days of paper, and once or twice mentioned that she was resorting to sneaky formatting tricks to get more words on a page so that her publisher wouldn’t immediately realize how long the books were.

        1. Ugh – I am slogging through the whole cycle, and really, there are whole chapters in all the books which serve no purpose at all save for padding. Really, Di – isn’t brevity supposed to be the soul of wit? My interior editor is going through all of this with a savage red pen in hand.

          1. Too many people take the rules of news and apply them to fiction. “Tell the viewer what you’re going to tell them; tell them what you’re telling them; tell them what you told them.”

            It’s not the reason I don’t watch TV news, but it sure doesn’t help.

  11. What do I want?

    These days: two extremes.

    1) Short (200-300 pages) pulpy adventures or mysteries, often installments following a set of characters’ continuing adventures, perhaps following the same story arc. (Stuff like Cole and Anspach’s Galaxy’s Edge books)

    2) One shots by authors who maybe aren’t professional writers, but who just had a story to tell and poured it all on the page, and who took years to write their book. Very likely these guys aren’t looking to make a living on their story or just did it as a hobby and never pretended otherwise, and maybe have some flaws in pacing or other beginner’s mistakes, but they’re genuine and genuine expressions of what the writer wanted to say.

    stuff like this

    https://www.amazon.com/First-Legend-Eloh-Book/dp/B08KHRL753/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=eloh&qid=1620841509&s=books&sr=1-1

    1. If I take years, you don’t get a genuine expression, you get incoherent rambling. Which is I guess what most of these writers do.
      Chacun son gout.

      1. – shrug – They’re not pros and they’re learning as they go, probably it’s not they’re primary career anyway, and I’m not recommending the practice as a business model.

        1. It also depends on where those years go. I estimate that it took fifteen years from conception to completion of my book, but a large portion of that was taken by growing up (I had the initial concept and a few scenes mapped out in junior high.) The actual writing portion took about a year, and I was working full time (and not in the habit of writing for creative outlet.) So yeah, years of ruminating on it, planning it in my head, and so forth—but only a year of actual work on the sucker, barring minor editing.

          1. We all hear those sad stories of the flash in the pan writer who produces a book after years of rumination and lucked into the big contract and publicity, but never developed the discipline and overall planning to produce regular output so fizzles out. I think I remember Larry Correia mentioning those cases on one of his blog posts. At least in the indie case, the poor writer does make him/herself miserable with the inability to follow up despite large expectations.

          2. By the way, you have a link to your book? It sounds like the sort of thing I’d like to look at!

            1. It’s called Minstrel, under my name at the big river, it’s YA, and the initializing thought was, I kid you not, “All the Disney villains have dark hair [when it isn’t white.]”

              The book has nothing to do with that thought, but for some reason, that’s what started it.

                1. It’s YA by default, as in I looked at the book, realized it was “clean,” featured a barely-still-in-teens protagonist, and was something I wouldn’t mind handing to a 12-year-old. (And YA sells better, heh.)

                  1. Understandable. I’m a non-believer but when I’m not looking through indie or older stuff I’ve taken to looking into Christian fantasy and sci fi, because at least that probably wont be disgusting.

                  2. I’ve seen a lot of trad pub, highly successful, authors shoe horn in a sex scene or two into their mystery or adventure or SFF books and nearly walled it at that point. It’s one thing to tell us the two got frisky and spent the night energetically getting to know each other. It’s something else to give us a blow by blow from the friction zones.

                    YA is usually pretty clean, which is why I think it took off so well.

                1. I’m about 15 percent in so far. It’s interesting. Classic concept. Excellent descriptions. Caught a couple typos and an editor’s not after “seneschal”. Still reading.

          3. By the way, do you have a link to your book? Sounds like something I’d like to see!

  12. I remember (from decades ago) a sci-fi short story about how *literary* had completely taken over all magazine writing. The story included on-the-nose dreadful examples. Our hero discovered old pulp stories, began writing similar (?) or republishing old ones (?) and a fun time was had by all and the world changed.

    No, this is NOT Isaac Asimov’s Galley Slave.
    I cannot remember the author or title and have been unable to locate it.

    Anyone? If I’m remembering the plot correctly, our current publishing situation was forecast at least 40 years ago.

    1. I think it was a Poul Anderson story, and the original intent was to convince an effete literary snob of a robot to fly a mission to Mars like they were supposed to. Sorry, but I’m blanking on the title.

            1. Yeah, that sounds like it. According to my online search it appears in the collection ‘Time and Stars’.

  13. WRT Jane Austen fan fiction. The story I’d like to read, but have been unable to find (I admit I’ve been extremely casual in looking) is Lucy Steele’s story.

    Lucy Steele has no assets other than her looks, her native slyness and intelligence, and a few connections. If she wants to move up the social ladder, escaping the lowest levels, she’s got to make the most of what she has: like Becky Sharpe!

    I’d like to see Lucy Steele get her say and get her happy ending (probably not with Robert Ferrars).

    1. I think it’d be difficult to make Lucy Steele into a sympathetic character after the way she tortured Elinor.

      1. She was desperate to escape her own situation and didn’t care who she trampled. Later on, once she was more secure, perhaps then?

  14. 60,000 words was considered the publishable length recently enough ago that I read a how-to-write book in the library that told you you should aim for it. I’ve heard various reasons why it went up.

  15. 5 has gotten so predictable we can practically expect to hear how the military hero massacred a village at some point, etc etc

    1. Sometimes massacring villagers is a least bad option, and it is racist of moderns to disagree.

  16. I’ve been reading a lot of fanfiction too albeit not of the Jane Austen variety. No judgment here.

  17. Me (as a reader) wants, in no particular order-
    *A certain level of competence. Not perfection, but competence. Or at least punishment for a lack of competence.
    *Reasonably believable characters. Even if they’re jerks, I can believe in them and how they act and respond.
    *Action and adventure that doesn’t insult my intelligence. They stay within the rules previously established and previously written.
    *Desire that makes good sense.
    *And, some originality would be nice. Even some absurdity, as long as it was done well.

  18. I noticed in the late 80’s to early 90’s that SFF books were getting longer. There were some truly epic outputs, such as The Wheel of Time, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Game of Thrones, etc. Some of the stories were good at that length, but some seemed like a good editor was needed to cut them in half to get the story moving along. And Tom Clancy started out long winded, and only got wordier. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn’t.

    The novels I grew up reading were much shorter, like the L’Amour westerns, the Christie and MacLeod mysteries (I guess these are now considered cozy mysteries), and the Lewis fantasies. I liked them short and to the point without a bunch of extraneous fluff piled on top.

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