It's funny how when I'm writing the first draft, I feel like I've hit another milestone each time I add another thousand words to my total, and now that I am in editing, I celebrate each time I reach another thousand words cut. I'm now down to 269,000 words with AQATSA, which means I've cut about 7,000 words from the early first draft. And this isn't by making major revisions; the snippet I posted a few weeks ago is the largest single block of text I have deleted. Mostly it's just been a phrase here, an unnecessary paragraph there, and word-level editing to tighten up sentences.
So, the second draft of chapters 1-13 is 7,000 words lighter than the first, which suggests, if the pattern continues, that I should be able to cut another 15,000 words easily. Which would make the final draft ~254,000 words. Let's see if that prediction is at all accurate. This assumes of course that no major hacking occurs. So far the most major structural revision I have made is moving a couple of scenes to an earlier chapter.
My betas are both rereading the entire series, which is a good thing since I haven't done that in too long, and will definitely be doing so before I begin book five. I seem to recall that Rowling once admitted that she had not reread her own books before writing the later ones, which has been the cause of many accusations of plot holes and inconsistencies on her part.
I did so do the research, I just ignored anything I didn't like
If I screw up, I will at least come up with a No Prize explanation, dammit.
Speaking of these, I've been somewhat amused to see the growth of tropes assigned to Hogwarts Houses Divided at its TVTropes page. Particularly the Did Not Do the Research section that suddenly popped up.
Well, I'll admit I didn't double check what color the dots on the Marauder's Map are, and I might have misremembered a glass ceiling in the Slytherin Common Room. (It definitely gets light from the lake, which implies windows; and who's to say they didn't redesign the dungeons?) I think all the other "errors" are actually inferences about which canon is silent, or at best, is ambiguous since it's based on Rowling's interviews (which I treated as canon in HHD only when it suited me). I don't know of any canonical statements that it's impossible for ghosts to move on or for someone to get special dispensation to start Hogwarts early; it just never happens in the books. The stuff about the envenomed Sword of Gryffindor and confiscating wands? Sure, that's one possible interpretation. Mine just happened to be different.
While Alexandra Quick has inspired far more disgruntled nerdrage just for existing than HHD, I think the only arguments I've ever heard concerning AQ outright contradicting canon is some readers who've questioned my use of the Fidelius Charm, and also Ms. Grimm's transformation of Alexandra and Larry into rats in book one. I think the latter is another area where canon is ambiguous: we don't know it's impossible for someone to retain their human thoughts when transformed into an animal (if Animorphmagi remain themselves while transformed, then clearly magic does allow the possibility of a human mind in an animal body). As for the former... well, I took some liberties. Hey, I'll bet Dumbledore or Voldemort could "tweak" the Fidelius Charm to work a little bit differently, so why not Abraham Thorn?
So there. I hereby grant myself a No Prize.