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  1. Transcontinental Railroad
  2. Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy | Books | The Guardian
  3. The road to hell
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Hi Liam, thanks for your message. I would be happy to chat further. I will shoot you an email today, and hopefully I can provide a little guidance. Great article, now I know where I went wrong. My novel, which originally started out to be a boy beats girl romantic thriller based on true events, finished up by being an erotic thriller with a ,word count. The word count is too high, especially for a first-time writer. Although initially I was very excited when I was accepted by a publisher, and even signed a contract, unfortunately, they went into liquidation just before printing.

So my question to you is this, with a little adjustment my story can easily be presented as two books with a word count of roughly 80,word each. Now, how do I write my synopsis? Do I write it describing the first book only, or do I write it incorporating both. Hello Brian, Well done on completing your manuscript, and also for the publishing opportunity!! I assume you would be submitting your MS as a series, so then you would submit the overview synopsis and perhaps the extended single-book synopses also, on request. Does that all make sense?


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Please do feel free to call or email me and we can chat further about this. All the best, Kit. Make sure you edit this in any cover letter you submit… I am not sure publishers want manuscripts about boys beating girls…. The writing phase is all about words on the page; plot, narrative development, character development, world-building. Came across this article trying to figure out the rules for this lazy bum of a writer. Very informative. Hi, I have completed my first novel, the first in a series, and I am currently in the process of revising it.

I would need to see your MS to be able to provide manuscript-specific feedback. It all depends on the world building, the narrative development, plot development, character establishment, series establishment, writing style etc. I would be happy to chat more if you would like to email me at kit manuscriptagency.

Why does word count matter?

Hi kit, Not sure if you would follow up on this but thanks a lot, your article has taught me a lot. And to be honest I learnt more from the comments section. I love writing myself but not sure if my writing is good enough my english. I am working on a fiction novel and my autobiography am just 29 by the way.

I am halfway on both the books. I would like you to take a look at my sample writings on my blog and review my writing style and my grab on english. Dear Aga, Thank you for your message. Chat soon, Kit. I like to keep my books short and sweet.

Transcontinental Railroad

The problem is…. Dear Christine, At this point of writing I would be concentrating on the writing itself and not worrying one bit about the word count. The word count will change as you write and edit your work. Focus on getting the narrative structure working and make sure your characters are doing their job first, before worrying about length. In terms of your age, it is hard to say. I would be inclined to let your work speak for itself in the first instance. Once it has done that then your age could come into play. A young writer, such as yourself, can be a good selling point for publishers!

Well done on being so proactive in your writing! I am curious, it is set around the lives of several average teenagers, and touches on many issues they face today. I am currently at 26k words and am running into writers block. In your opinion, would a publisher even consider a 26k word first novella? Or should I try to continue to expand the story. I mean my target audience is the average teen. What would you recommend? Thank you.

Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy | Books | The Guardian

I would focus on ensuring your manuscript was complete, with a sufficient beginning, middle and end — and with all the necessary developments in plot and character — before even considering the word count. In terms of garnering feedback, there are professionals like us who deal in providing feedback. But there are also lots of beta readers out there and writing groups where you can gather feedback on your writing — this is especially helpful in the early days of writing.

Thanks for touching base. I currently have a 26, would book definitely need an editor I was told I only needed 40, words and now that has changed a need about 55, I had the whole ending planned out drawn out and now I need to add an extra 15, words to that Might just go into self publishing that way I can have it published either way. Hi Joe, I would focus on the content of the manuscript and the development of the narrative before considering the word count.

It is good to keep in mind, but better to think about it in the self-editing phase. Dear Kit, Thank you so much for the article; it shed light on a lot of obscure details; however, I would like you to guide me with the next step.


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I am writing a novel which I am dividing into three parts, I somehow have the plot in my head and I am developing as I proceed. The first part was finished and it was 66, words. I started with part two a month ago and I just checked your website regarding the word count…which got me worried. Should I completely ignore the word count at this point and continue with the flow of ideas and then if it is too long, I decide to make it two novels part one alone ,and part 2 and 3 together or should I start restricting myself, I kind of drift with descriptions and settings but it is my poetic way I am originally an architect … Please advice…Thank you….

Dear Dana, Apologies for my late reply. The mechanics of writing at this point can inhibit your creativity, just enjoy writing the narrative at this point. I hope this helps! Hi Kit. Your article really helped put a lot of things into perspective.

The road to hell

But to be honest, it feels a bit unclear to me when I think about my story. This is why. I am writing a novel at the moment and it is generally fantasy; more urban fantasy which is actually a category of YA because it is focused on teenagers and magic. This is where it gets confusing with respect to the word count. You highlighted that Fantasy is generally between 90 — words while YA is 50 — 80 But can you clarify the right approach with respect to word limit to my particular genre?

Should I stick to the 90 word limit or otherwise? To give you an idea of the story setting, think Harry Potter. A fantasy world that exists within the real world and there is some back and forth between the two. I would really appreciate it. Thank you very much! Dear Asad, Apologies for the delay in my response and thank you for your message. Fantasy writing, even for YA, has a little more scope. Readers of fantasy understand that the narrative will be longer, because of world-building aspects etc.

Readers of fantasy are also usually more committed to reading longer texts. However, I would simply focus on finishing the manuscript and then potentially have it assessed. At the end of the day, the word count parameters are simply a guide — the narrative will be the thing that will dictate the appropriate length. Does that make sense? I have been rereading it, fixing it best I can before I look into finding editor.

It word count , and page count So should I stay with this word count, or try to bring the word count down. It very frustrating though. Hi Pamela, I am afraid it is impossible to answer that question without seeing your manuscript. It is not a black and white situation. At the end of the day, your narrative will dictate what the appropriate word length will be.

I did not see any mention of these kind of books above. Hi Mark, Thanks for your query. The word count expectation for these kind of books is hazy. It depends on who the author is, their qualifications, the writing style, the content etc etc. I am afraid I find it difficult to provide advice about your manuscript without having seen it and without knowing more about you. I would be happy to chat further if you wanted to send through an email? Dear Kit, I have been working on a family saga that will span over years when finished.

I have been told not to make my novel too long as 70 — 90 thousand words is a good length. My problem is that I am working on one chapter that will span six years and I already have over 10, words. Do you think it would be better to tell the story in a series of books instead of just one, to cut it down would leave a lot of empty holes.

Appreciate any advice in this matter. Dear Carol, My advice to all authors is to write the whole manuscript without a care for wordcount in the first instance. You can always break it down into parts once it is written — a good editor can help with that if you are stuck with how to move forward. Once the words are on the page and the whole narrative is recorded then you can start the task of structurally editing the work. All of the parts come together to complete the plot of the whole story, like a puzzle.

You can email me at thehorrorpages gmail.


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Hi Noah, We can, of course, do this for you in the form of an appraisal. We also offer editorial services. But I will leave the post here also and see if anyone else can help for free. All the best with it. I have a question, but everything just gives me the same answer. Hello Jasmine, Thank you for your message. Each narrative is different. And as a creative endeavour there will be never absolute right and wrong ways of doing things. You just need to keep writing until you think it is done. And then you will need to re-read your work and self-edit — adding tet, deleting text, moving text around.

Then you will probably need friends and family to read it. And so goes the writing, re-writing and editing cycle. Writing is as much about rewriting as it is about writing that first draft. Enjoy the writing process and then you can start crafting your manuscript once you have the initial narrative on paper. Good luck with all your writing — keep at it! It is not a matter of you taking your favorite novel and trying to reach the same number of words with yours. In fact, it is very likely that this strategy will not work for you: the norm is that each genre of a novel has a certain length.

It is much smarter to take your genre and try to circumscribe yourself to the range of words that novels that belong to him usually have. KIT REPLY: I agree, every manuscript will have a word count that is right for it, these word count brackets are simply guides for industry expectations. They are not strict rules to be adhered to at all costs, but to be kept in mind as they are based on the reading habits of the intended readership.

It is also useful to know the general length of each genre. Keep in mind, these are not set in stone, and should not be considered goals for a first draft. My thesis adviser once told me to keep writing until I said everything I needed to […]. You can use this guideline to help you set a realistic goal for word count, based on the average word counts of the different […]. Your email address will not be published. Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer home about manuscript services appraisals mentorships editing testimonials how to submit fees blog contact Facebook Twitter.

Comments How can I be a novelist? What problems I will face in publishing my novel? Well, I hope not. Sometimes people have accused me of over-plotting. But if there's a fault, I'd sooner be guilty of that than under-plotting. Before I can start a book, I do have to have a pretty clear idea of the storyline, but what then happens to me—and it always happens—is that when the characters really come alive they change the storyline, and the book I finish is never the book that I start.

So in this book, the characters really did completely change my original conception of the book. They enormously enlarged it because of their needs. In this book particularly, I just trusted the characters. It got to the point where, even when I would stop work one day and not be quite clear exactly how to solve a particular problem that I'd come up against, I began to have faith that if I woke up the next day and just listened to the characters, they would tell me what to do. And they almost always did. There are some novels— Midnight's Children , for example, which is locked into paralleling the history of a character with the history of a country—in which the form is imposed by the idea, and the characters have to exist inside an arc of history that already exists.

But in this book, the characters had much more freedom. And for me, that was one of the most enjoyable things about it. In his review of Shalimar the Clown in this month's Atlantic , Christopher Hitchens sees in the character of Shalimar, trained to kill in the jihadist camps of the Muslim world, "the fusion of the psychopathic with the apocalyptic—surely the essence of 'terror' in our time.

To what extent is this book meant to serve as a warning—not just of what has happened in Kashmir, but of what fundamentalism can do to the rest of the world? I don't know about a warning.

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The Western Limit of the World

Again, I resist didactic language, because I think if you want to send a message, use Western Union. But just like anyone else, I am someone who has been very exercised by this big subject of our time, and I thought, Well, here's a story which not only quite naturally allows me to go into the subject of terrorism, but in a way, in order to make sense of the story I have to go into that.

And so I was led into it by the needs of the book. But certainly, in the act of writing it, I found out an enormous amount about what goes on. And I hope people will feel it to be informative and useful. But I think we're all scared enough already, you know what I mean? I don't think we need to read a novel to tell us how frightening the world is.

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One more thing about Hitchens—I noticed that you dedicated your book of essays to him. Why did you choose to do that? Well, just because he'd been an ally in a time of trouble. Step Across This Line is the book in which I put together more than I've put together anywhere else the material on the battle against the Khomeini fatwa, and Christopher was a great ally in that fight, as one can see that he would be because of his own concerns.

But also—well, I just wanted to recognize his friendship in a time of need. In fact, I've always remembered that when I finally was able to get my meeting with Clinton, it was Christopher's house that I left to go to the White House. And he and others had been very important in helping to bring that meeting about.

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So it was just a recognition of all that. He's taken a very well-publicized journey rightward since September 11, away from Clinton. Could you talk about where you've traveled ideologically? Well, not there exactly. I think Christopher doesn't do things by halves; he does them two-hundred percent or not at all. I don't think my politics have gone there, but I do think that there was—how shall I put this—that there was a mistake made by a lot of liberal opponents to the Bush administration, which was to undervalue the Saddam Hussein problem in order to disagree with what the United States was doing.

My view was then, and still is, that if the left is not about deposing tyrants, then what is it about? With Iraq, I've not been able to find it in my heart to feel that the removal of Saddam Hussein was a bad thing. It seems to be a good thing which was done in an absolutely execrable way. I'm not in favor of unilateralist policies; I think consensus could have been built. I thought it was stupid not to wait until the weapons inspectors had finished their work.

I thought it was dumb to base the invasion on a palpable lie about the existence of weapons that didn't exist. I had many differences with the straightforward hawkish position. But I thought it was fine to get rid of Saddam Hussein. I just thought it could have been much better done. And had it been more slowly and more sensibly done, we might be in less of a mess than we are now.

In an essay that you published in The New York Times soon after September 11 you wrote, "The restoration of religion to the sphere of the personal, its depoliticization, is the nettle that all Muslim societies must grasp in order to become modern. I see the desire for it. I think if you look at the Muslim communities in the West, as a whole they are very secularized, cosmopolitan, worldly, modern people, who see these jihadists as being very alien from them.

So certainly in the Muslim diaspora, there's a large majority which in a way is already reformed. But this clearly needs to happen in an institutional way. You need leaders of communities and governments and educational systems to shift in this direction. That hasn't happened. And to be truthful I don't see much sign of it happening anytime soon. But the desire for it is there amongst many Muslims on the ground. In an article earlier this year in National Journal , Jonathan Rauch argued that, in hindsight, it's clear that the fatwa issued against you "represented the emergence of Islamist totalitarianism—not a religion but a political movement, demanding absolutist rule under Islamic law—as a global insurrection using terrorism as its instrument.

Did you see it this way at the time of the fatwa? I think it's right to say that it was the moment at which people in the West first became aware of the phenomenon of radical Islam in a very direct way. It obviously wasn't the beginning of it. It was just the first time it burst into Western headlines. It's strange now to see how many articles of this sort are being written.

At the time that it happened, people were very reluctant to see it as indicative of a larger problem. People tended to say it was a very particular problem. And even though I was at some pains to point out at the time that there were many other writers and intellectuals being attacked in very similar ways, that wasn't really a subject anybody wanted to discuss. Of course, there were a number of people who wanted to say it was all my fault anyway. You've written extensively in the last several years about the tug of war between liberty and security—how necessary it is for us to identify what we value and to maintain those values in the face of terrorism.

In the wake of the London bombings, would you mind returning to this subject? Which side is winning the tug of war? First of all, one has to give enormous credit to the British security forces. I think they have done the most sensational job—with the exception of one Brazilian, whose family will probably feel differently. But the fact that they have captured these people so swiftly, and alive, is a most remarkable breakthrough in the fight against terror, because now we have a chance of finding something out.

I know from my own fairly extensive experience with the British Special Branch how incredibly good at their job they are. So I'm not surprised at their success, but it is certainly a very, very impressive piece of policework. I think that, in the case of England, Blair is not a libertarian. Blair is by nature an authoritarian, and I think we have to watch him like a hawk. On the other hand, I've been arguing for a decade and more that the British level of tolerance of intolerant groups in England has meant that England has become the safe haven for every Islamic radical group in the world.

And it doesn't seem to me to be anti-libertarian to say that that's a very dangerous thing to happen in a society. What is the limit of tolerance? Would you allow someone to stand in a general election whose platform was that he would abolish democracy? In , monetary authorities actually sought to drive prices back to their pre-war levels. They did not wholly succeed, but they succeeded well enough. One price especially concerned them: In , a dollar bought a little less than one-twentieth of an ounce of gold; by , it comfortably did so again. James Grant hails this accomplishment.

Adam Tooze forces us to reckon with its consequences for the rest of the planet. Every other World War I belligerent had quit the gold standard at the beginning of the war. As part of their war finance, they accepted that their currency would depreciate against gold. The currencies of the losers depreciated much more than the winners; among the winners, the currency of Italy depreciated more than that of France, and France more than that of Britain.

Yet even the mighty pound lost almost one-fourth of its value against gold. At the end of the conflict, every national government had to decide whether to return to the gold standard and, if so, at what rate. The American depression of made that decision all the more difficult.

When the U. Return to gold at values, and you would have to match U. Alternatively, you could re-peg your currency to gold at a diminished rate. But that amounted to an admission that your money had permanently lost value—and that your own people, who had trusted their government with loans in local money, would receive a weaker return on their bonds than American creditors who had lent in dollars. The consequences of these choices fill much of the second half of The Deluge.

For Europeans, they were uniformly grim, and worse. But one important effect ultimately rebounded on Americans. The flip side of the Lost Generation enjoying cheap European travel with their strong dollars was German steelmakers and shipyards underpricing their American competitors with weak marks. In and , they raised tariffs, terminating a brief experiment with freer trade undertaken after the election of The world owed the United States billions of dollars, but the world was going to have to find another way of earning that money than selling goods to the United States.

That way was found: more debt, especially more German debt. Post-inflation Germany looked like a very creditworthy borrower. Between and , world financial flows could be simplified into a daisy chain of debt. Germans borrowed from Americans, and used the proceeds to pay reparations to the Belgians and French. The French and Belgians, in turn, repaid war debts to the British and Americans. The British then used their French and Italian debt payments to repay the United States, who set the whole crazy contraption in motion again.

Everybody could see the system was crazy. Only the United States could fix it. It never did. The Deluge that had inundated the rest of the developed world roared back upon the United States. The Great Depression overturned parliamentary governments throughout Europe and the Americas. Yet the dictatorships that replaced them were not, as Tooze emphasizes in The Wages of Destruction , reactionary absolutisms of the kind re-established in Europe after Napoleon. These dictators aspired to be modernizers, and none more so than Adolf Hitler. Could this vision have ever been realized? Tooze argues in The Wages of Destruction that Germany had already missed its chance.

By , before the aerial bombardment had hit top gear, total American output was almost four times that of the Third Reich. Germany was a weaker and poorer country in than it had been in Compared with Britain, let alone the United States, it lacked the basic elements of modernity: There were just , automobiles in Germany in , and one-quarter of all Germans still worked as farmers as of Germany lacked workers, so it plundered the labor of its conquered peoples. On paper, the Nazi empire of represented a substantial economic bloc.

But pillage and slavery are not workable bases for an industrial economy.