I made a copy of I'm Only Human and then started cutting and moving. Anything that hindered the forward movement of the story.
Cut out a fair amount of exposition. Cut the part of the love story that wasn't working and which was somewhat redundant. Cut a couple of later chapters that strained credulity. (Ironically these weren't the fantasy parts, but the parts set in the 'real' world.)
I also added a couple of chapters early, which you would think would slow the story, but which were necessary. Trying to take Vonnegut's advice of not being afraid to "Give the reader as much information as soon as possible." These were new chapters -- but chapters I had previously written and was holding back for a second book.
Then I placed the "flashback" portions into the story where they had the most effect, not in sequential order, 'when' they happened in history.
In the end, I pared about 4000 words of a 88000 word book. Not as much as I thought, but then I added a good 4000 words, so I cut about 10% of the original manuscript.
I really thought this would be much much harder. Just moving a few chapters around in my other novel seemed to be harder than this.
I think it was the freedom I gave myself to simply cut and move. Cut and move.
Today, I'm going to clean it up a bit, and then see how it reads. Perhaps read it aloud to myself.
I still have plenty of work, I figure. I want to go through and see if I can't make a bit more poetic use of language -- which for me, usually means being somewhat dreamlike.
Then, I want to try to make it feel more 'real.' By making sure that there is plenty of sight, sound, and movement. (A trick is to go into the non-viewpoint character's head and try to see what they're seeing.)
That's the external part of making it real.
The internal part of making it real is to try to go inside their heads a little. In this case, in the head of the main character -- since this is 1rst person. Have to be careful here I don't get too introspective, but try to make the reader feel what the narrator feels.
I'm guessing all this will push the book into the 100,000 word range.
I'm getting to the point in the past where I was anxious to send a book off -- but I'm resisting this time.
This time, I'm wondering if I can get to a point where I'll feel I've done all I can do -- what happens if I get there and I still feeling like it's lacking?
I'm not afraid to keep writing anymore. I've learned something with each of these books -- or relearned and remembered.
So the questions will be, send it off, or try writing something else?
Oh, well. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
The six months distance I created by working on another book was extremely helpful. I was able to look at the manuscript with fresh eyes, and was willing to make more drastic changes.
So if I reach an impasse with this book, I may just start on yet another story and see where that goes.
3 days ago