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Authors who bloat as they "mature" 
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Post Authors who bloat as they "mature"
In the "Recommend Me Some Fantasy Novels" thread, I briefly talked about George R.R. Martin's "Song Of Fire And Ice" series and how the latter novels have tended to bloat. I started thinking about other series I have read. Can consistent "page count" be an accurate measure of how well a story was thought out? If an author takes 350 pages to complete part 1, why does it take them 750 pages to complete part 5? Has the story really got that complex, and was that growth organic or did they just let it get out of control?

A good example is Harry Potter. Looking at the books on my shelf, they get progressively thicker and thicker. Couldn't Rowling have told "The Deathly Hollows" story in the space of "The [Philsopher's/Sorcerer's] Stone"? I remember on SNL when "Goblet of Fire" came out. Seth Myers quipped along the lines: "The new Harry Potter book is out and it comes in at over 700 pages long. The age range printed on the cover is children 9 to 14. That's not the recommended age but how long it will take them to read it."

Think of movies. Usually the origin story story winds up being longer than the subsequent chapters. Why do books tend to be different.

This is not confined to fantasy. Tom Clancy's spy novels got notoriously bigger and bigger as he went on.

And then you have authors who churn out works of a consistent range within 50 pages give or take. Clive Cussler comes to mind. Or David Eddings.

Look at Tolkien's "Lord Of The Rings". Now, that may be a special case because he wrote all 6 books at once and they were intended to be in one omnibus. But the longer books are in "The Fellowship of the Ring" and then stabilize in shorter volumes in the latter 2/3. That is a well thought out and reseearched series.

So what say you; in a general sense, is expanding book size a sign of a writer who loses their focus as they churn out novels, or is it a sign of a maturing author who is just giving their readers more of what they want?


Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:28 am
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Post Re: Authors who bloat as they "mature"
Johnny Larue wrote:
So what say you; in a general sense, is expanding book size a sign of a writer who loses their focus as they churn out novels, or is it a sign of a maturing author who is just giving their readers more of what they want?


I certainly don't think it is one or the other. It's an interesting topic, certainly.

Authors that go from shorter to longer (like Clancy) might simply be the result of having more editorial control -- I read somewhere that Clancy's first submitted draft of Hunt for Red October was nearly twice the size of the one that got published. On the other hand, some authors get bored and/or more ambitious, and want to tackle something on a bigger scale. When that's the case I'm all for it. When it's just an author exerting his power, I think it's lame -- trust the editors that got you that fame, dude.

Obviously a lot of the major players stay within a very close range. Guys like Lee Child and Michael Connelly flex their length more than you might think given their styles, but they are rarely too vastly different. George Pelecanos can be fairly all over the place with length. I'm not well versed enough in fantasy (hence the thread I started), but it is certainly not a genre that seems to discourage heft too emphatically.

It is true that concise writing, in any form, is good writing. But I've read 500+ page novels that were way more concise that 200+ page novels. A mature writer serves the story first. With guys like Martin and others writing for both hardcore fans and the mainstream, balancing the rabbit trails that super fans love and mild fans might not put up with is the battle.


Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:42 pm
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