Chopping Away


s I started looking into various agents I came to the realization that my word count on my first novel was extremely high. I know within the romance genre, most books end up somewhere between 70K-100K words.

My first draft was 117,000 words.

Brevity is obviously not my strong suit. I knew I needed to cut. So, before I sent to beta readers I whittled away at it and got it down to about 113K words. I knew I needed to still get lower in order to have agents even take a look at it. So, I took a step back and took a hard look at my writing.

I started researching on how to cut my word count. I read countless blogs about tightening up my writing and learned a lot. There were scenes I was grasping onto with a death grip that I knew needed to go.

This blog was super helpful in tightening up my writing.

Let me tell you, once I hit the delete key and removed the parts that didn’t advance my story, it was a liberating feeling.

Also I learned all kinds of tips on how to cut meaningless words, remove unnecessary dialogue tags.

This article by Diana Urban was probably the most useful thing that I read in helping me cut my word count in my first novel. By cutting the word “that” in my novel I eliminated about one thousand words.

Another helpful tip I read was to divide your novel into sections (like three acts of a play). Then you can see how many words per section you need to eliminate. Then you can see how many words by chapter, and then even down to page. When it comes down to it, you may only need to remove 10 words per page when all is said and done. Ten words from a page seems much less daunting than thousands of words.

It was a tedious, boring process, but it was exhilarating when I got that word count down. In two days of editing I managed to cut 11,000 words from my manuscript. It’s coming in at about 106,000 words right now. I know this is on the high end for romance novels, but I feel much more comfortable sending out queries with this word count rather than where I was.

I know I still have some editing to do. Ideally I’d like to be at 100K words. Even if I end up self publishing I have peace knowing that I produced a better novel by tightening up my writing.

So, grab a glass of wine, or beer, or coffee, sit down at your computer and start chopping away.

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