Wow. I finished the most recent edit. The manuscript is now 106,000 words. Down from 121,000 at the end of the first draft. It has truly evolved over time, and is so much more polished and tighter now. Most of the word cuts weren't real large chunks. There were a couple of three and four thousand word passages that were cut, but the majority of those 15,000 words were cut out one, two, five, twelve words at a time. I didn't cut out every single adverb, but I damn sure cut out a bunch. I thought I'd been careful as I wrote, not to over-do the adverbs. Going back through with a careful eye, though, I still found way too many. The dialogue flows much more smoothly now (oh, no, an adverb), and the descriptions are better using fewer words. Subtlety is the sign of a true artist, and I'm working on that.
I checked out some Randy Wayne White books at the library last week. Someone who read my manuscript said it reads similar to his books, so I decided to see for myself. Overlooking the fact that he is a better writer than I am right now, there is some similarity. Similar tone and style. I'm reading The Mangrove Coast, and I see that his characters are very thoughtful, and he allows them to explore some tangential ideas that don't necessarily pertain to the story, but it is interesting narrative and doesn't disturb the flow. One thing I find interesting about this book: it begins with the requisite body in chapter one, then the next 180 pages are backstory to get us back to where the book opens. According to some schools of thought, this is a no-no. This book was published in 1998, though, and maybe it wasn't a big deal at that time. Trends in style and structure seem to be somewhat dynamic and constantly shifting. I don't mind it. I was into the story quickly and the backstory was compelling. I'm looking forward to finishing this one and reading the other two, which are more recent, published in the last couple of years.
My next story is going to be something entirely new. New characters, probably keep the setting right here at the beach, but I'm going to experiment with a little different style. A little darker, I think. We'll see. Still haven't decided if it'll be first person or third person POV. I've got to come up with the crime. I'm going to approach it more methodically this time, and it is going to be a more "traditional" mystery. The protagonist is going to be a bounty-hunter (that's all I know right now), and there will be a body in the first chapter. I'm going to write a plot outline from the perspective of the murderer, as recommended by some "experts". Now, I have to come up with a murderer and a crime. This will be interesting. Fun, too. Lots of decisions to make before I start writing.
I'll get back to querying agents next week. The manuscript is ready, I believe. One more walk-through, and then I'll start picking out some agents. My query letter is ready, now, too. The agent blogs have helped tremendously, and I'm looking forward to positive results this time around.
Still trying to get over this damn cold. I feel better but my voice still sounds like I'm dying. Maybe it'll be better in the morning. Vitamin C and OJ for all the lovely people...