So. My WIP is evil. You see, I have a final word count for the manuscript in mind. A nice lil' goal I want to meet. Knowing myself, the first draft will be much longer than my intended goal.
When I sit down to write, I try not to dwell on word count. It's not about how much I write. It's about what I write--content. Otherwise, I'd just put whatever sparked my fancy on the page in order to get to X amount of words, you know? So, like the word count rebel that I am, I haven't cared that much about it. Until now. You see, there's this chapter that WILL NOT END.
Well, I sort of... finished it this morning, but... you get the point...
Anyway, Chapter From Hell is long. Very, very long. And it hits the 30k mark of my first draft. Which is supposed to be the halfway mark of the manuscript. Problem? Chapter From Hell isn't the halfway mark. Not even close. That makes my first draft much longer than my intended goal.
In a way, keeping that goal now is sort of useless, right? I'll just surpass it, then meet it again during revisions. Which leads me to the following tips:
1) For the first draft, focus on content.
I get it all out, even if it's messy and makes zero sense. Blocking scenes, playing with dialogue, raising the stakes and putting my MC face-to-face with more conflict--you name it. I tend to write chronologically, so I go from Point A to Point Z without losing myself or the story. Yes, content is a top priority in every stage of the writing process, but during that first draft, I think it should be the only one.
2) For revisions, focus on everything else.
Here's where I pull out my axe and start cutting, cutting, cutting. Or improving, which means keeping something, but making it sparkle to the best of my ability (with help from others, of course). Word count should matter during this stage to me, mainly because here's where I decide if Chapter From Hell is as relevant as I thought it was when I wrote it. But I can only see that in hindsight--after the deed is done. Word count for the sake of word count will only give me the worst headache of the century during revisions. And it'll probably happen to you, too.
There you have it, folks. For me, content wins every time.
Now tell me: what do you think about this epic battle between word count and content? Who takes the lead during your first draft?