How did Tolstoy do it?

I’m working hard on editing my next novel Earthquake – and I think I’m in the last throes. I am on about the fourth complete read-through, plus various other ‘reads’ I did while I was still in the midst of it. Even with the extra help writers get these days from things like spell checkers, I have still found quite a few little errors, typos, not counting the other tweaks I’m doing as I go along.

My book is relatively short, less than 120,000 words… but think of Tolstoy with his monster books, think of Dostoyevsky or Dickens! Even if they had secretaries to write down their immortal prose, and really literate type-setters for printing the books, they must have had to read their works, they must have had to go back and forth to change little inconsistencies, let alone if they suddenly decided to change a character’s name from Igor to Ivan or Bessie to Betsey. I really do wonder how they did it in the past. They must have whole teams of editors and editing staff to check it all – no scrolling through pages on a screen, but rustling through real actual paper pages!

When I looked up long books it seems that some long books are actually several volumes of one narrative – I’m not sure I think that actually counts; something with twenty-seven volumes can’t really be counted as a single novel – in my opinion. The twenty-seven volumes I’m referring to is Men of Goodwill by Jules Roman, written in French and with over a million words.

Here is a really interesting blog about word-counts in books:

https://indefeasible.wordpress.com/2008/05/03/great-novels-and-word-count/

According to this, Tolstoy’s war and peace is over half a million words long and Crime and Punishment a mere couple of hundred thousand words… when you think of all the other published writing both these authors achieve d in their lives, it really is truly remarkable…

Here’s a link to all the books I have managed to edit and publish! Earthquake is the fifth in the Radwinter series, so if you haven’t read any of the others yet, you can catch up now!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

18 Comments

      1. Lois

        Oh how infuriating! H ave you seen that Amazon will publish your book as a paperback now? I guess a bit like Lulu except it’s already uploaded for KDP… I’m sort of tempted as loads of my friends don’t have Kindles.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. simonjkyte

        The first draft of the novel was completed in 1863. In 1865, the periodical Russkiy Vestnik (The Russian Messenger) published the first part of this draft under the title 1805 and published more the following year. Tolstoy was dissatisfied with this version, although he allowed several parts of it to be published with a different ending in 1867. He heavily rewrote the entire novel between 1866 and 1869.[5][10] Tolstoy’s wife, Sophia Tolstaya, copied as many as seven separate complete manuscripts before Tolstoy considered it again ready for publication

        Like

    1. Lois

      Sorry… I had a very inappropriate chuckle then…
      Yes, I believe he did – I was reading about him and he seems an extraordinary man. perhaps i should find a biography of him – as log as its not as lengthy as his books!

      Liked by 1 person

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