Monday, June 6, 2011

Adding or Subtracting

This past month I've been working furiously to finish the last edits of my book before I hit query land. Hence the absence here.

I finished my major edits and now I'm on my last read through. I've managed to cut my word count from 70,000 to 66,000, which really seems like a lot of words. In total, from the first draft of this book to now, I've cut 34,000 words, which is almost a whole book. Obviously I wrote too much the first time through.

For my second book, I wrote slim with the first draft coming in at just over 50,000 words, but now when I reach chapters that I didn't write very much for I feel like I'm writing the first draft again.

This begs the question: Do you write your first drafts to add or do you write your first drafts to subtract?

I'm beginning to wonder which one is better.

BTW - congrats to Elana Johnson on her book Posession which comes out today. So excited to read this one.

14 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

I definitely write way too much in the first draft. Redundancies are all over the place. By the time I'm done revising, I usually cut anywhere from 10K to 20K.

So excited for you as you get ready to query!!

Laura Pauling said...

I end up doing both! I subtract and I add! But usually I end up with around the same word count or more than my first draft b/c my nature I underwrite. So I need to flesh out scenes and emotion.

Anne Gallagher said...

The first draft has everything in it, including the kitchen sink, so I'm always subtracting at the end.

Carolyn V said...

I write my first draft to add. I spend a lot of time thinking of the perfect word to go in the perfect spot, so if I can spew everything down and then go back...it's just so much better for me. =)

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I usually write my first draft to add. I like adding more depth to conversations and action when I'm editing. :)

Congrats on finishing edits!! :D

Colene Murphy said...

Well congrats on cutting down and finishing edits! That's awesome!

Melissa Marsh said...

I really don't know...my word target is always around 100,000. First drafts are kind of a "spewing" on the page session, and second drafts are more cleaning up the mess. ;-)

Jessica Hill said...

I don't really write specifically one way or the other - it usually depends on the project and it's an unconscious thing. BUT, I do tend to find it easier to cut than add during the editing stage, personally.

Congrats on finishing your major edits! That's exciting!

Jessie Oliveros said...

My first book, I definitely underwrote. This one, I think it's going to be way too long for middle grade. I read the first two chapters of Possession. Looks good:)

Janet Johnson said...

Funny, that's exactly what I did! It's a hard call which is harder. Filling in the holes isn't easy, but neither is cutting out the fat.

But if I had to choose, I'd go with adding later.

Monica B.W. said...

Good luck on the querying to come!
And me? I add AND subtract. But mainly add...
For instance, the first draft of my new ms, a contemp. YA, was 23k--it was more like an outline.
I deleted some scenes, and then fleshed out. Deleted some sentences, for subtlety, and then the latest draft is 48k. :)

Carol Riggs said...

I write a lot of fluff in the first draft that has to be slashed, but it's important to get it on the pages first. It can always be tighter! It's not like I write 100K novels that have to be whittled to 80K though. ;o)

Kasie West said...

I definitely underwrite. It's more of a skeleton really that I flesh out in edits. It keeps my momentum up if I don't have to worry about their actions as much as what they're saying.

Heidi Willis said...

Wow - I've been gone so long you went and redid your blog design on me! :) Lookin' good there, Patti!

I have no idea what I do on the first draft. nothing intentional, for sure. I struggle just to get the story out.

I always thought I wrote really lean because I always have to go back and fill in details. But I've discovered that leaving out some details doesn't mean there isn't lots of other stuff in what I wrote to cut out.

So I end up doing both. A little adding. A lot of cutting.

Pretty much, I'm a mess. :)