I have almost completed a high fantasy novel that I have spent over 10 years designing the world and everything that works in the story. It is the first of a trilogy and therefore has a main story line, a overarching series story line in it, and still has to provide room to show the rich cultural history of my world.

It currently weighs in at 186,058 words and is projected to be finished at 200K words. All my research say 100K to 120K max. Bringing it down to such would be throwing away half my book! I have thought about trying to split it into two novels and just write a little more to round them out, but I have no clue where to start there. I am not finding a climax in the first half, and doing so would leave a reader with a lot of standing questions. Is that allowed for a first time author to do if the second book is already written and ready to publish? I don't want to anger my readers before I even have them.

I have only a handful of chapters left to go to finish completely but I have been so concerned about this topic that I have found it impossible to move forward. I am open for any suggestions that would help get me back on track.

2 Answers 2


Find an editor and ask that person to help you find a spot to split it.

This absolutely can be done; David Eddings's Belgariad series was originally planned to be three books and his publisher had him split it into five. I think it's book 4 which just abruptly ends at a dramatic moment (the group of protagonists is kidnapped and herded off) without wrapping up any of the storylines or coming to even a partial resolution.

Stephen R. Donaldson's A Man Rides Through is the first book of two in the Mordant's Need duology (the sequel is The Mirror of Her Dreams, published a year later) and also ends smack in the middle of the story. All the plot lines are left wide open. I don't know anything about its publication history, but clearly it was managed.

If two books are finished and ready to go, this might be more of a selling point for an agent/publisher, because they don't have to wonder if you have another book in you. Point out that these are "two of four" (or two of six, potentially) and that might even be better.


Diana Gabaldon also is a good example of a writer that is commercially successful in the modern publishing world between 140,000 to 180,000. One of Clancy's had to be 230,000 (paperback was 900+ pages).

That being said, we as writers are far more enamored with our work than others are at reading it. I tend to binge-write. My last book's rough draft was 192,000 at first draft, 162,000 at second draft, and is now in beta reading where I expect another 30,000 words to be lopped off and maybe a character or two.

The problem is you first need to find agents, publishers, whomever to read your book; and first-time authors especially will struggle with finding any takers. Jane Friedman is an agent hosting a blog site with an immense readership for publishing advice.

I would suggest writing your book as is. Then you can go back and remove unnecessary scenes (store them in a virtual notecard). Most sentences can be shortened to be more succinct (for instance, removing the word that as often as possible). You might rewrite a whole chapter from scratch cutting the word count in half for that chapter.

And then use beta readers or an experienced editor (might cost $2,000), depending on how serious you are. Peter Jackson was reportedly crying as half the diector's cut of The Return of the King was slashed. And the extended version was still close to four hours.

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