I finished my slow and brutal line edit of The Distant, aka The Fourth Draft, earlier this month and whittled it down from 186K words to 168K. Most of that was simply from removing text that simply didn't need to be there.
For example, you might say something like "He lifted his arm up." Well, that's obviously redundant. You can simply say "He lifted his arm." You don't lift something down, so there's no need to specify direction.
So things like that, though not something as prosaic as the example above. Anyway, I noticed some scattered throughout my text and made sure to clean them out. It makes your prose flow much more gracefully.
I also noticed that I used certain phrases or words more often than others, so much so that they abruptly stood out when the text had been streamlined down to the 168K words (the shortest the novel has been yet).
The most glaring one is the use of "but." So and so did this, but... He thought he might go there, but... When I write longhand, that's what happens, as I don't go back and revise while writing. I'm just writing as the story comes to me and will worry about it later, during revisions.
Honorable mentions go to the following:
- pretty "something"
- a bit
- began / begun to
- a little
When you're editing your own material, always look for words / phrases like these. I found that I used them a lot.
I Take the Fifth
Oh, and did I mention I also completed a fifth draft, as well? I did that one over the last two weeks, essentially reading the text straight through and making more adjustments as I noticed them. It wasn't a line edit, but I did reduce the word count by around 400 words. So it's now down to 167,663, to be exact.
I'm not finished, though I'm very close. I'm currently also creating a more detailed outline of Book 3, Rom Tar, and am changing a few details in The Distant to reflect that content. Once that outline is done I'll be working on the sixth draft of The Distant, which will involve any final tightening of prose and keeping details consistent. It has been quite hard getting this novel down - I even have to use a timeline to make sure events between characters (and novels) line up properly.