Word count is all the devil you have to love, or at the very least, respect. If you’re like most new authors, your manuscript is long. You never thought it would grow to 150,000 words but it just kind of took a life of its own.
The rest of you, please pick an abacus from the abacus cupboard and have a seat.
You missed your goal of 80,000 words by 25,000, didn’t you? Some stories come up short because they are a bit too linear. What if there’s another good man pursuing the same goal? Or another bad man who wants the joy of destroying the good guy’s day? Or someone who may be bad or good depending upon how the wind is blowing? Not just any personality, but a person who’s important enough to throw your protagonist’s strategies a little out of whack. Yes, adding a considerable amount of words to a complete first draft can affect the plot and characters you so carefully crafted.
One change on page 45 may have an impact on each page that follows. A brand new character might add texture and depth to your narrative. You know that neighbor that appears once or twice to speak to your primary character on his way to his apartment? What if he’d have a bigger role? Look at each of your small characters. Perhaps a number of them are just begging for more ink in your pages. Cross the road to find out why all the dogs are barking each single night at eleven. Every personality in your story has a complete, complicated life, even when their roles are only captured by a single sentence in your current draft.
Try to explore them further. Make them count. Make your word count count.