A couple of days ago Mr McLean was whinging on about having to revise his 70,000 word novel, picking up on a similar moan by Mr White who has to do the same for 75,000 words. Now my initial reaction was to call Russel a big girly boy for writing such small books. My second reaction was to go have a cup of tea and a biscuit. My third reaction involved having a bit of a scratch, and number four was to take a good look at my current word count: just a smidgeon over 37K. And I'm only 22% of the way through. So instead of having more than half a book under my belt, I've only got a fifth. Holy Mary Mother of Duncan!
"How come you must write such big fat books then, Oh Bearded One?" I hear you cry. Well, it's in my contract: 150,000 words. COLD GRANITE weighed in at about 128K-ish, DYING LIGHT at 120K plus change (though the first draft was 150,538 - I was something of an editing monster on that one). And this one is going to be about the same.
I think it's got something to do with the fact I'm writing police procedurals. No matter what the TV and books tell you, the police don't usually have the luxury of concentrating on one case, so I like to have at least three on the go. Sometimes more. Which makes for a bigger book. Notice I don't say a better book, just bigger. There's nothing wrong with writing 75K novels. Wish I could get away with it myself. I'd be on the downhill run by now. But I'm not, and won't be for ages yet. 120K to 150K just happens to be the amount of space I need to tell the story.
To parade that old saw horse once more: the size of your wordcount isn't important, it's what you do with it that counts.
* And in the land of freaky coincidences, Mr James has blogged about much the same thing today. Weird. But I'm going to do it anyway.