What’s The Perfect Length?

ImageI’ve  heard it said that a well-written book is always too short and a poorly written one is always too long. Do you think that’s true?

I admit that phrase reflects the way I feel. Right now I’m reading a nearly 1,000 page tome – fiction, believe it or not. When it was recommended to me by someone who loved it, I looked forward to getting into it. But it didn’t take long to see that some of the writing was less than stellar (passive, repetitive, including more information than necessary). It was set during a favorite era, though, so I didn’t want to give up (and perhaps more importantly I didn’t want to disappoint my friend by not reading her recommendation).

Then I resorted to the same trick I used the last time I read a book of this length. Although I had the print copy, I went to the library to see if they offered the audio version—and they did. So whenever I got into the car, I listened to bits and pieces of it. At the end of the day when I do my reading I’d scan through the written book until I found where I’d left off in the car. It worked to get me through several hundred pages that way, and long enough for me to become engaged with the characters. At least enough to want to finish.

But there’s still a problem with the size of the book. It’s difficult to hold and would be far better as an e-book. I nearly drop it every time I pick it up.

Here’s what’s so amazing to me, however. As much trouble as I had getting into this book, holding it upright, switching between audio and print versions, there did come a point when I cared enough about the characters to want to finish. The length ceased being an issue for me. I’m a little over 100 pages from the ending, and I might even be sad to close the cover for the last time.

What about  you? Does length matter before you even pick up a book, or are you ready to give any book a chance? If the characters draw you in, are you ready to stick with them all the way to the end—no matter how far that may be from the beginning? Or is it something other than just the characters—the setting, the subject, the plot? Or are you like my sister, who always finishes every book she starts, even if she doesn’t like it? She absolutely must finish whatever she starts.


About Maureen Lang

Author of a dozen novels, Maureen Lang has won the Selah Award, a Holt Medallion, FHL's Reader's Choice Award, and been a finalist in such contests as the Christy, the Rita, the Carol, Book Buyer's Best, and others. Before publication she was the recipient of a Golden Heart and a Genesis (then called the Noble Theme). She resides with her husband and kids in the Chicago area. Titles by Maureen Lang All In Good Time Bees In The Butterfly Garden Springtime Of The Spirit Whisper On The Wind Look To The East My Sister Dilly On Sparrow Hill The Oak Leaves Remember Me Pieces Of Silver
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