Okay. So in reading agents' blogs, I started freaking out about word count again. Many genres have norms and you can't really go outside that box. Since my book will probably go upper-YA with all my teen MCs, my word count is way off, by 20,000 words at least. I did have 106,000 words, and then started paring it down, gunning for 97,000 or so.
However, when I did my final edit in the spring, I made sure things were worded a specific way to provide good rhythm and meter, to create a zingy voice and to secretly reinforce my themes with subliminal messages. And the over-pruning I did this week gave the narrative a choppy feel and stripped a lot of that out. I was almost at 101,000, only nine chapters in, but returned some needed lines or phrases to alleviate the stilted feel and to reclaim my voice. A strong voice is just as important as a solid plot, good pacing and well-developed characters. It's one of the key things agents look for in the first few pages. So I can't lose that.
Now I'm closer 102,000 again. I'm still tweaking to get my word count under 100,000 at least. Some darlings will have to be cut. I still have many more chapters to prune and maybe I can reach my hope of 97,000 words, but if I don't, I'm not going to fret. I'm just going to pass around the best story I can.
Now, my word count being out of the norm may mean an automatic rejection. But I'd rather have my work in good condition then to have a stick-figure effort that will get to go on shelves because--yippee--it fits in the typical box but is sub-par at best.
The complexity of my novel can't be streamlined into 80,000 words. It can't. My book doesn't snag or drag in spots. Everything affects the main plot and the MC's reaction to it.
Stephenie Meyer allowed Bella to repeat the same things over and over about a beautiful, sparkling vampire, beyond 118,000 words, and that passed by the conference table. I can only hope my word count doesn't doom my work, but trashing and slashing it to fit the norm would do it just the same.
Above all, you must have a good story. And I know I have that.
~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.