If you haven't had an opportunity to read my previous post and click on the link about writing books for boys, here's another teaser from David Elzey's interesting take on writing books for boys.
There are readers, many of them boys, who will pick up that book and judge it by its girth, by its font size, by the amount of white on the page. As a former bookseller, if I had a dollar for every boy I ever witnessed fan a book’s pages as a method for deciding whether or not to read it, I’d have enough money today to buy a small publishing house.
Thomas Newkirk in Misreading Masculinity notes that, for many boy readers, “unless you are reading fluently in late elementary school, getting an assignment to read a two-hundred page book will just defeat you.”
Mind you, that’s not two-hundred manuscript pages, that’s two hundred final printed pages. With middle grade boys that means hewing closer to the 20,000 word range as opposed to the 30,000 or 40,000 words that has been typical for middle grade books.
I know writers wring their hands about word count/ page count/ size.
I like what I've heard writer Greg Neri say more than once: "A book needs to be what it needs to be." Or something close to that. Meaning, you can't force a YA novel into a picture book format. Or a long fantasy into a short adventure? The book will tell you what it wants to be. Eventually. That's a key word. It may take a while. You may have to wait.
But when you start the revision part, whittling down, getting rid of the excess, does that 20,000 word range surprise you? Do you even notice? Or is it all about writing the book that needs to be, not worrying about the size.
(And just a note from somebody--me-- who knows a lot more girl readers, up close and personal, than I do boy readers: I've seen a fair number of girls fan books, check for page numbers, and put them aside.)
Thoughts on size, and whether it matters, anyone?
Off the top of your head, recommendations for short boy books?
Most of the books by Barbara O'Connor?
The Liberation of Gabriel King, by K.L. Going?