On Sunday night I finished the first pass of my “Book Diet.” If you recall, my agent asked me to reduce the word count on Honest And For True by between thirteen to eighteen thousand words for marketing purposes, and I set myself a goal of removing five hundred words per chapter.
Here are two interesting facts: I received the official offer from my agent on the anniversary of when my guardian angel got assigned to me, and I finished the first phase of removing words from my manuscript on the Feast of the Assumption. Do you know what that means? It’s a sign that, without a doubt, I remember far too many important dates.
Anyhow, the “word-harvest” seems to have worked. Kind of. I brought the manuscript down from 98,000 words to 85,985. Why so specific? Because I don’t want to round it up to 86K. I want it to at least look like I reached my first-pass target of 85,000.
I mentioned before that my agent saw how to improve the book, and once she suggested those changes, I knew immediately she was right and how to implement them. I love that editorial “Oh!” moment. The book is so much sharper now than before, and despite all that came out, so much funnier material went in. I’m in love with it again.
(I’ve been getting comments about my “weight loss ticker.” Do you have any idea how hard it was to find a weight loss ticker that allowed me to input five digits? Every day I’d work to feed the graph, but it was discouraging on days when I’d remove my 500 words but had to add two new sections of 150 words each. “The numbers are lying,” I told my Patient Husband. “I did do work.” He replied, “You need a graph that reflects churn.” And that’s the kind of conversation you have when married to a geek.)
The next step is to re-read the novel, pulling more words wherever I can find excess, and also to catch what I call editing artifacts. Those are the dangling words you forgot to pull out when you rearranged a sentence, and on re-reading you wonder why the word “had” is floating there amidst a bunch of other words that make sense without it.
This has been so much fun. I’m really enjoying taking another close-read through my book, and I hope someday you all can read it too.