I finished Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned draft 1 last evening.
Word counts and page counts are deceptive, because they can change drastically between drafts, but the preliminary count gives a pretty good hint at what we're looking at: 513 pages, 228,973 words. (I tweeted some statistics the other night right as I closed the document, but I made a minor tweak here and there since, so the number I'm citing now is my as-of-the-moment number).
This is roughly 1 3/4ths the length I was originally shooting for.
Now, my original estimate may well have been wildly off. It might be that 500+ pages are needed to tell the story I wanted to tell. I might be able to whittle 100 pages out of that and lose nothing; I might only be able to lose 20-30 tops. Decisions like those, I can't make until I've had at least one or two scene-by-scene assessments of the manuscript.
Right now, I'm taking a break from the book. I'm going to be putting my previous book into production (that's Welcome To The Fold for all those keeping score at home), and I want to have that out on Kindle and CreateSpace by the end of July or so. It's been more or less done; it's just that the production process has typically required a lot of tweaking, and I want to refine that into something I can script heavily so I don't have to do it by hand each time I need to make minor corrections.
When I come back to AONO, the process will look something like this:
- Go back through the book scene by scene and make a "map". Write down each scene, note its function.
- Also note with each scene any changes to be made to it by way of the list I accrued when writing the first draft.
- Look for things that can be folded into each other or eliminated entirely.
- Construct a new manuscript from the old one, scene by scene, with the changes in question.
- Give that a read-through after some time away from it, and make notes.
- If it still needs tightening, repeat 3-4, using notes accrued from 5.
- If we've been through the manuscript a couple of times by now and we're getting into diminishing returns as far as fixes go, it's time to take it out of the oven. Get it copy-edited, have friends look at it, put it out there, open up a bottle of Suntory.
I'm still estimating the book will be out for sale sometime by the beginning of next year, assuming we haven't all been nuked by then. A man can hope.
I'll be saving my feelings about the book itself for another post.