Aaaaand we're down to under 266K words and 43 chapters. That means over 10K words have been cut just with minor editing here and there.
I haven't actually cut any chapters in their entirety yet. But a couple got hacked apart and stitched back together like Frankenstein's monster, with extraneous scenes and unnecessary paragraphs left dripping on the floor.
This little snippet isn't terrible (albeit it is unedited), but I decided Charlie really didn't need to be in this particular scene and the dialog was pretty pointless. So basically it's a bunch of words that serve no purpose.
At that moment, a black shape descended directly at her with a sharp caw. Two girls screamed.
“Nice timing, Charlie,” Alexandra muttered, as her familiar landed on her shoulder.
“Charlie's a raven, not a crow,” Charlie said. This speech made several more students let out startled gasps.
“There's no reason to be afraid of either ravens or crows,” said Mrs. Verde, forging through the mist to where Alexandra was standing. “I assure you, this close to the school, the wards and protections will stop any Dark magic.” She said this loudly, for the benefit of Alexandra's nervous classmates, but in a quieter voice, Mrs. Verde said, “I won't forbid you to bring your familiar along, Alexandra, but there's really no need to be so theatrical.”
“I didn't plan it,” Alexandra said. “Charlie just came.”
“Familiars have a way of doing that. Very well – let's continue on, everyone.”
“Charlie's wicked,” Sonja said, walking alongside Alexandra.
“Wicked!” agreed Charlie.
“Charlie's a bird-brain,” Alexandra said.
“Bird-brain!” Charlie repeated.