Wacky Word Count

Bfly here. Welcome to the Bfly Zone.
I’ve been chomping away at the word count in my romance novel, To Love a Beast. When you have to do a significant amount of editing, you learn a lot about your writing style. Here are a few tidbits I learned about mine.

First, I didn’t realize how redundant I am. I like to say the same thing several times but in different ways. I like to repeat myself, and many times. In all seriousness, I learned to say what I need to say once, and get rid of all the copycats.
Next, adjectives adjectives adjectives. You don’t need quite as many as you think. Sometime the verb is strong enough without the adjective. I knocked several thousand of those little buggers out of my book.
Another is just, just. I like to say just quite a lot in my writing. That’s one that you can use the find and replace feature on your Word doc and just go to town.
Also, the word that. You’d be surprised how many you can get rid of. I believe I got rid of over a thousand of them.
Then there are those terrible cliches that make everyone cringe. Gotta git rid of the damn flipity flap!
Compound sentences. Most of the time you can get rid of half. I’ll give you an example. “She sighed, and then placed her head in her hands.” Great sentence right? Not if you’re cutting for word count. Stuff like this is going to get nom nommed by the backspace button. With something like this, I would either get rid of the front clause, or the back clause. It all depends on which action is more important to the story. If it’s neither, get rid of all of it.

And while I’m on the subject, damn my characters like to sigh a lot. Here a sigh, there a sigh. If you find your characters sighing every other line there might be a problem. Get rid of it!
Huge blocks of narration that just reiterates how the character is feeling over and over and over again… Extract anything important and then snow plow it off. Also get rid of anything cutesie. It may have been fun in a first draft, but pop culture from now won’t fly in a book that takes place in early 1800’s England.
Finally, show, don’t tell. You should know that. I should know that. It’s not the ultimate rule, but it needs to be taken into consideration. Another part of showing and not telling is what I like to call “the no shit statement.” It looks like this… Her hands shivered as the snow drifts grew thick and tall all around her. She rubbed her chapped hands to create any kind of warmth, but it wasn’t working. She pulled her thin hoodie around her, but it was not enough to shelter her from the biting wind. She was freakin’ cold!… We all know she’s cold. I spent the three sentences telling the reader she was. Unless your reader is very dense, and most of the time she is not, you don’t need to say she is cold when it is obvious. It’s not like a comp paper. the goal is not to tell them, tell them, and tell them again (Thanks Ernie).

Last I want to give you an update on my word count. When I finished the first draft of my book it was at 150,000 words. When I started querying agents it was at 125,000. When I was told that the magic number was 80,000, my book was at 109,000 words. Today, I am a little less than half way through a major cut and my count is 103,000. I’m thinking after this pass I might end up somewhere in the 90,000 word range.
My goal is to be able to cut enough flipity flap to be able to add my prologue chapter 1, and a few really neat scenes near the end…else you’re going to see a lot of flash backs in book 2. I do like to recycle, so I cut and paste everything I have cut from the real book into a crap folder. You never know when these things will come in handy.

Until next time, remember, if you see a hippie selling tie dye on the side of the road, buy one…or ten.

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  1. * reshmihebbar says:

    Love your title (To Love a Beast)…

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 5 months ago

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