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  • jimclougherty

Gold Fever Log #3 - The Word Count

Updated: Aug 5, 2019

On my third time through self-editing the book. I decided that to trim the fat and also make a professional editor more affordable, I'm cutting the word count down. After my first draft, I was at about 250,000 words. I'm currently down to 230,000. My goal is to get it down to 200,000 or lower, although if it doesn't make sense to cut down to that level, I'd be fine with that.

The third read is interesting to say the least. I'm at a point where it's not fresh and new to me anymore, so I'm not even sad to cut certain things like I was expecting. You could say it becomes boring to keep reading the same things over and over, but in a way it gives great perspective. I no longer feel attached to needless things, although I'm sure a professional editor will sniff out a few more unneeded parts of the story.

I've also changed a few parts of the story to match with the cut out bits. It's never as simple as deleting text; there are things that need to be accounted for. For example, if you kill character A, but change your mind later on and they survive, it's time to give them something to do in those later parts of the story that they weren't in before. If someone just survives and is never heard from again, it'll leave people scratching their heads.

Not to spoil anything, but my favorite part so far was cutting a plot point which made the villain more sympathetic. It's fun to make a character that's irredeemable. Not to say redemption for evil characters is bad, but I think it should be rare. Like one out of every ten villains you create, if not less. Think of how hard it is to change someone's mind in real life. For example, yesterday I found myself arguing with people about how their iphones were overpriced pieces of junk. All you have to do is look at a spec sheet or Apple's bad business practices to know I'm right, but brand loyalty is a powerful thing - They didn't care. And that's something as simple as what phone you use. Now imagine trying to change someone so much that they shift ideologies from bad to good. That would take a lot of convincing. People are naturally stubborn.

Sorry Clippy, I don't think you can help me with this one...

I also tried to cut chapter lengths down. I mentioned this before, but I foolishly thought that a Microsoft word page would be similar to a page from a physical book. Turns out that would have to be a gigantic book, because in general a book page is only about 60-70% that size. So my goal of making each chapter around 10 pages didn't exactly work out. It would probably be something more like 15-20 pages instead. That's not horrible, but I wanted the chapters manageable because I don't want readers to feel like they're intimidated to start a chapter just before bed. Most people want to finish a chapter before putting the book down. I guess that's what bookmarks are for, but if you read often, I think you'll feel the same. It's how I always felt, anyway. I don't want to drop a book mid-chapter. I won't be as into it the next time you pick it up that way.

I think the toughest bits to cut out will be the big exposition dump in a later chapter about the series villain and his history. In fact the entire chapter is devoted to that character, and I may leave it in tact to see if the professional editor tells me to cut it down. It's told in the form of a story by another character, so maybe that makes it okay? I doubt it, but we'll see.

In the next log, I want to talk about the "T-Rex" effect, something I made up just now. Join my next time to find out what the hell I'm talking about!

- Jim

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