A funny thing happened in the process of revising this draft.
It got bigger.
I usually think of my first revision as "tightening up," among other things. I slash unnecessary words, sentences, and sometimes entire chapters.
Previous AQ books - indeed, pretty much everything I have written in the past - have very consistently become shorter after my first revision, usually by about 10%. I have never not ended up with a shorter manuscript.
But this one... well, there were indeed several chapters that got completely rewritten, and I found that again and again I was actually adding scenes.
When I first announced the completion of my first draft, in December, the word count was 281,900 words.
My revised draft? 284,400 words.
It may well become smaller in the next iteration - I rather hope so. But it's a bit scary to think about how much bloat this might represent. The fact is, I started writing this book seven years ago, so if ever I've had a manuscript that needs more pairs of eyes on it, it's this one.
I also noticed that I broke chapters up a lot more in this manuscript. Currently, AQATWA contains 61 chapters. That's an average of 4662 words per chapter. By comparison, here is what previous books looked like:
Title (Average words per chapter)
AQATTC, 160,327 words, 29 chapters (5529)
AQATLB, 226,846 words, 37 chapters (6131)
AQATDR, 196,588 words, 31 chapters (6342)
AQATSA, 252,313 words, 39 chapters (6470)
So, right now AQATWA has much shorter chapters. Probably some of them will be combined and/or cut in the editing process. This isn't really a conscious decision I made, but I am not sure if this is just because of the nature of this book, or because my writing style has changed.
Anyway, enough introspection. This is why I went ahead and told my betas to have at it.
Here is some more teaser art. Note that this was just the artist's initial sketch for my approval. The finished piece is absolutely gorgeous.