Too short for a novel. Too long for a novella. Shall I send my protagonist to a godless assembly? and other questions.

Someone who knows what she is talking about told me that I’d be wasting my time approaching agents with a novel of only 60,000 words. Unless I’m Julian Barnes or Heinrich von Kleist.

Perhaps it isn’t ‘fully realised’ ? That’s the posh way of saying skimpy and trivial.

What’s to be done? I hate long musings and flashbacks and I dread boring people. So no padding. Two possibilities:

1. Tell readers more about the mechanics of internet dating, which plays and important role in the story. I’ve found some people are a bit uncertain about how it works. 2. Try to make a more upbeat ending by taking my heroine to a godless assembly. I’ve just been to one and felt inspired and uplifted and I’m sure she would be too. It would be fun to write and since a major theme is how to live a meaningful life without religion it would be quite fitting.

Problem: I’ve got stuck into a second novel. The first three chapters of novel one plus an elegant query letter to an agent were about to be posted when I heard about this  80000 word requirement and I was really looking forward to chapter two of novel two.

Is there anyone out there who can advise or console?



  1. I think there is more scope in digital publishing for intermediate lengths, but of course it isn’t the same as having an actual book as the end product. 20,000 words is a lot to add. Personally I wouldn’t jump into a ‘quick fix’ if you are already happy with the 60.000 words that you’ve written. You could just let it rest awhile, and work on novel two. Answers often come when you are looking in a different direction. (Or so my horoscope said this morning!)


  2. Malcolm Maclean · · Reply

    Build in to it, the adventures/misadventures of subscribers to internet dating and how she decided to bring these sufferers together to tell their tales. Instead of one adventure, there then become several. Whilst the reader may be dulled by a constant theme, they are more likely to be enthralled by a story line which pitches this way and that. Further, so many readers would be able to identify with the stories told. This could become 21st century canterbury Tales. Go on, Babs, you can do it!


    1. Nice idea, Mac, but it would be a very different book. But I have produced a collection: Click to Click: tales of Internet Dating as an Amazon Kindle e-book (price £2-93!!!)


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