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Monday, April 27, 2009

Revision Facts that make you go, "Hmmm."

The manuscript is back, and it still doesn't have an official title (even though one is in the works...).

As I go over it--hopefully for the last time--I have noticed a few revision facts that have given me pause. Like:
  • From the first draft to the last, I have trimmed over 40,000 words. (Holy cow.)
  • If you count all of the individual passes, it has been through over 15 revisions. (Gulp.)
  • Three of those revisions were Major. About two-thirds of the rest were line-edits.
  • I trimmed over 400 instances of the word "that."
  • I changed over 250 en dashes to em dashes (don't want the copyeditor to kill me...).
  • I can be very wordy and convoluted.
  • Sometimes I don't even know what I meant. (Bad sign.)

To be fair, at least 30,000 of those cut words were trying to find the story and often were just me telling myself the story in the first draft (kind of like Laini Taylor's Working Doc, but right there in the manuscript).

I can already see that what I've learned in the first novel, I'm putting into practice with the second. In this second novel, I wrote 20,000 fewer words in the first draft, so hopefully that means I'll only be cutting another 20,000 in the revision!

I'm also learning to recognize my weaknesses and play to my strengths. So even those 40,000 words I had to cut have not been wasted. I hope to use them to make the next project better.


  1. Excellent! I will someday tell you about my 85 draft, 10 year story.

    Which changed completely.

    And over which I now tremble as I wait for my agent to read.

  2. Well, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one having to cut! My first round of edits was just me (no notes), cutting 65 pages (I was supposed to cut 75). I am now wrapping up the next round with lots of notes where I cut another 63 pages! I am supposed to be down to 250 now but I might come in at 251.

    This is my first (to be published) novel too and I've learned so much!

  3. Looking good!

    I did something like this with my own ms. My stats are here:


    I think I used "just" almost 300 times.

  4. sounds like you've been working hard

  5. Go, HOLLY! You carve down the marble block to reveal your sculpture. I build it up word by word on a wire armature. Both work excellently!

  6. These are probably depressing statistics, aren't they? But what's hopeful about them for me: in the first draft, I reward myself for word count; in revising, I get the satisfaction of cutting! So it sort of works out, lol. My editor didn't buy the manuscript until it had been through probably 9 revisions!