The Inverse Parabola

The more I write, the more I find myself believing in the inverse parabola. What do I mean? It’s like this—writing a novel keeps adding words and as the words increase the number of chapters grow too. words–>chapters–>book. At the peak of the writing output (the vertex if you like) the book is finished. But when the editing takes place, the number of words decrease again, like a descending parabola. From my own experience, this editing reduces the word count and often the number of chapters too. This reduction is sometimes painful, cutting out unnecessary dialogue/action/description. What is left is tighter writing, more immediacy and greater tension. Show me a writer who is increasing their word count and I can guess they are still working on an unfinished draft; show me a writer who is reducing their word count, and I know they are heading for a finished finished draft, ready for their literary agent and/or publisher.

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