Between January 10th and April 10th, I wrote the complete first draft of ♥My Book♥. Next comes the editing.
If you’ve noticed in the sidebar, I’ve had a little tracking bar giving information about my word count. I’d set myself a goal of 1000 words a day (hoping for more but being realistic) and I found that to be doable, unlike NaNoWriMo’s 1700 words per day. Ninety days, a hundred thousand words, with a one-week literary pause in the middle and three days of “gathering energy for the end” before the finale.
On days I didn’t want to write, I forced myself because a thousand words isn’t that much (it’s about three pages in a paperback) and because I knew I’d look stupid if I didn’t feed the word count bar. The fact that no one was paying attention to it is beside the point: I had to feed the metrics.
Here’s my new dilemma: there’s no metric for editing.
I’ve got goals, of course. I want to edit the thing back down to 95,000 words at the most (and I’d prefer less) and so far, I’ve stripped 1500 useless words out of the first 30,000. For non-writers, that’s things like this:
up the stairs.
walked to the fridge and took a container of yogurt. And then something happened.
That’s just tightening, and there’s always room for a bit of that. You the reader will never notice when they’re gone (which is the point of removing them) but it takes time weeding them out. The happy result is that no one will read this manuscript screaming “Stage directions should not be narrated!” and “Of course she looked up at the roof! You haven’t mentioned that she’s in an airplane, have you?”
I could try tracking word-removal as my metric, but there’s another issue: word replacement. Removing a generic word in exchange for a specific one:
He took a container of yogurt
He grabbed any container of yogurt or He selected a container of yogurt.
Or if it’s important, “After three minutes in front of the case, he settled on a mango yogurt with a container of granola on the side.”
Which inadvertently adds words, but tells you more about the character.
I also can’t use a metric based on where I am in the manuscript. I might adjust something in Chapter Two that has implications in Chapter Twenty-one, so I jump ahead to take care of that now, and that also requires adjustments in Chapter Thirty, and then I realize there’s an issue in Chapter Seven. See?
I’m not really one for measuring the immeasurable, but since the metrics kept me steaming along so nicely on the first draft, I’m reluctant to relinquish them now.
Any ideas? Writers, how do you measure progress on your editing?