I decided to take a quick break from chapter 24 final revision to sneak up on my word count problem. OMG, what a problem. As I said in Pitched Battle with Revision, my novel isn’t filled with ramblings or flowery descriptions, I just have active characters who can’t stay out of trouble. Their lives filled the pages so quickly that before I knew it I had 120,000 words.
How did I get into this mess? First, I underestimated myself. Who knew my people and my world would have so much to say? Second, my time frame of six months is tooooo long. In most of the light novels I read the action takes place in a week or two. Short time frames keep the writer and the reader focused.
So, now what? Where do I cut to make this story read as if it happened last week?
Let’s face it, traveling across two galaxies should be covered half a page, not four chapters. I want to show my characters at their best and worst in close quarters, but I just can’t spare the words. (I seem to remember worrying about how to keep it interesting as they traveled. I probably should have listened to my little voice.) So, all the chapters between Earth and their destination have to go.
That leaves another 5,000 words to chop. I don’t want to cut politics or action or sex or romance-oh dear. But, I really want to complete this project sooner than later. Time for ruthless editing. Time to decide what the reader needs to know, what she doesn’t need to know, and what she can imagine on her own.
How does your word count work? Do you use complex planning ahead of time or just keep an eye on the numbers as you write?
Google 6 techniques for Cutting a Novel’s Length-fiction notes for ideas if you’re struggling with just too many of the little buggers.