3.26.2006

Bond, James Bond

Miss Snark,

I was cleaning about the house the other day and I allowed myself to be distracted by an old paperback copy of Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming. I estimate that I bought it in 1964 and the cover price was a whopping 60 cents. This is the day when a new car would cost $5000.

Just for giggles, I did a word count on the thing and it came to about 61000 words and is slightly less than a half-inch in thickness.

Now I understand that the customer wants value for the dollar and that novels have been expanding in size ever since. In your most knowledgeable and Snarkish opinion, Is this a good or bad thing for the writer?

Now to my second question: Do you often see mss that have been 'stretched' to get to the 100K word target and is the 'stretching' a benefit or hindrance?

Oh, those wonderful Bond books. They are treasures of cobblestone noir aren't they. Anyone who has only seen the movies has NO idea what the real James Bond is like.

And of course, it's a thriller, it's designed for a fast pace. Since you really don't need any character development, you save about 20,000 words in every book. (Would that Tom Clancy had paid closer attention to Mr. Fleming).

I do have books that came back with "yes we want this but we want more". Not "we want 5o more pages" usually but more like "we want more story, more this, more that".

And as far as I can tell its usually better. Of course, these are people whose work I've already taken on and sold; it's a given that I think it's a good book.

And I don't think novels have been expanding. For every 61,000 word novel published in 1956 (you've got a mass market American editon most likely) I can show you two that were 100,000.

2 comments:

Alan Morgan said...

And I don't think novels have been expanding. For every 61,000 word novel published in 1956 (you've got a mass market American editon most likely) I can show you two that were 100,000.

That might be true overall, but does it hold true to genre books?

I'm thinking particularly of the SFF genre, where all the old books that I have by Norton, Bradley, Clark, McCaffrey, etc. would be considered novellas by todays standards.

Anonymous said...

Never never never were truer words spoken!!! Is it too much to hope for that the new Bond, Daniel Craig is it?, will actually be the real deal a la the books?

'Cos if they're remaking Casino Royale I find it hard to believe they'll be faithful to the original torture scene.

Keep on snarking. You are da bomb.

Karen
in Sydney