Redundant redundancies and a better direction lead to a BIG negative word-count

Yesterday I finished with 22,297 words.

Today I started in a bit before 8 AM, full of coffee and certainty that I knew where I’d be going.

Ohio 3 2021 04 13 at 8 52 15 AM

First cut in word count

I picked up exactly where I left off, and adding to yesterday’s scene — and then, hitting a chunk of older material that was wrong — I pulled out 673 words.

Fine. It happens.

I was still working through the problem scene… and I thought I was near the end of it…

And then I hit a big chunk of text that was older, set off as a separate scene from a different POV, that I’d forgotten I put in there.

It had to have been some of the words I got last week, before I discovered the current path and why it’s better. That POV and its entire contents were wrong for the direction I’ve decided to take.

Ohio 3 2021 04 13 a 9 36 49 AM

Second cut in word count

So I cut all 1581 words of that. Big sigh here, but this is a novel, and it’s the middle book of the series, and a lot of pieces I’m pulling in from the first and second books at this point have to mesh.

So I removed what was more than a day’s planned words… and I kept writing.

I made great progress. I love what I got today, but no sooner had I finished the scene and started reading the stuff that followed than I discovered a third chunk of text that does not at ALL fit the new, better, much more compelling conflict that I found yesterday.

And this one really hurt. I cut out 2,249 words.

Ohio 3 2021 04 13 at 9 38 52 AM

Third cut in word count

I still wrote more, but after three hours and change, I’m still buried deep in negative numbers, and at this point I have to walk away to do the other stuff I have to deal with on Tuesdays.

So I end with a count of -1319, and I know that I got a lot of words, and I know I like what I finally ended up with… But DAMN.

I’m sort of dreading tomorrow.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.


4 comments… add one
  • Phoenix Apr 20, 2021 @ 8:31

    I just watched a YouTube video wherein the host (who was explaining the back-and-forth between editor and writer in traditional publishing, having recently gone through the experience with his most recent book) uttered the immortal phrase, “First, you write a book… I have no idea how that happens.”

    It seems rather appropriate for days like these.

    • Holly Apr 20, 2021 @ 13:18

      I like that. I have a different process, and I know how it works. And acknowledge that there are days when it doesn’t work well.

      But over time, the process gets me through.

  • Mike Lucas Apr 13, 2021 @ 16:58

    Makes you wonder if words are even the right way to track progress on a novel! It’s like, you made all this progress in figuring out a better path etc. yet have negative words to show for it! (But I doubt there is any better way to track progress; not tracking words would be giving up on tracking progress at all.)

    • Holly Apr 20, 2021 @ 13:17

      They work for me. Not always easily, not always gently. But I can look every day at what I have accomplished, and by progress over time remains clear.

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