Wrestling with word counts

by Sherryl Clark | May 21st, 2011

Update from January 2011:

When I started this revision, the publisher said it had to come down to 60,000 words. It started at 80,000 and as of today, I have whittled it down to around 69,000 – but that’s without the new ending added in (that I haven’t written yet). The new ending could add another 2000+ words. I knew when I started this revision that I had a big saggy middle to deal with, so it wasn’t going to be a problem to cut a lot of that.

But much of what I cut needed to be put in somewhere else, and when you cut huge chunks, you end up writing new stuff to make connections and flow. I am celebrating at the moment because I have finished the big hatchet job. I think I have probably cut around 23,000 words (at least) but have added around 12,000 new ones. Oh dear. So that’s why I’m sitting on 69,000 at the moment.

I do know I’m a bit wordy. I repeat things accidentally, I don’t use details well enough (so they add to character and action), but I’m also worried that far too often I have slipped into telling. It’s a danger with first person narrative, especially when you are trying to move things along.

Now I will maybe write a rough ending, and then leave the manuscript for a couple of weeks or so. Then it will be time to print it out and try to read it with a fresh eye. An eye that has a hatchet ready!

Leave a Reply

Previous posts