How I shortened the manuscript from 98,000 to nearly 76,000 words

When I had sent the draft of Now, Returned to India to my beta readers, the word count stood at nearly 98, 000. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, almost every reviewer had mentioned that my writing seemed verbose. So when I sat down to reduce the word count, I also began to maintain a chapter-wise ‘before and after’ word count. I also kept track of what was the reduction in words in percentage. During the process, I also learnt an important lesson – how to narrate the story in as few words. I am posting the results of my two week long effort below. Note that I also merged two chapters which would explain the numbers in the paranthesis. I am not sure if this was the most effective way of reducing the length of the manuscript, and would like to know how others go about the process.

Manuscript WC- Before and After

Attention please.. you are crossing the word limit

The other day I was traveling in a taxi to the airport. Everytime the driver would cross the speed limit on the highway connecting Gurgaon to Delhi airport, an alarm would go off “Please slow down.. you are crossing the speed limit.” It was quite amusing at first, but it got irritating very quickly because the driver simply ignored the warning. Finally, I had to literally give him an earful and he slowed down.

I thought of mentioning this incident because I received the feedback from my test readers (cannot call them beta readers still because the novel is still undergoing editing) and a couple of them thought that certain sections were too lengthy. A quick wordcount check showed that I had neared the 100,000 mark. Not that I had a word limit in mind, but I think I could trim down certain sections. It has been a slow and painful exercise, and the reason why I had not updated my blog for nearly a month. And since I am not done with the process yet, I will have to give a miss to the Jaipur Literary Festival this year. But I am still on course for attending the New Delhi World Book Fair in February.

And since I missed wishing you a Happy New Year, my apologies, and wishing you a (belated) Happy New Year. If there’s any consolation, I am not too late for the Chinese New year, and Gudi Padwa , which marks the begining of the new year where I come from, is a few months away.