So, I started editing one of my novels today. It's nearly 145,000 words long, and 45,000 of those words need to go. Yanking the unnecessary stuff is actually way easier on this particular work than I thought it'd be, mostly because this draft has been completed for over five years, and I'm a very different writer nowadays than I was then. The story's still sound, but can you say bloated prose? I didn't touch it in all that time either, which makes it about as fresh as this one can get.
This is a novel that I've struggled with the beginning, because I originally felt I couldn't jump into the action without setting a few things up first. The beta readers all said once they hit chapter two, they couldn't put it down from there, but chapter one, that all important chapter one, bored them. So, there's the "swap chapter one and chapter two" theory, which I toyed with and don't like (or haven't figured out how to make work). There's the "throw out chapter one entirely and just let her rip" approach. Or there's something between those two. But on that subject, I read number 5 of this post today, which made me rethink what I need to do to the beginning. Again.
And I really liked this consise post from Elizabeth Bear today on narrative tension. I was talking recently with a non-writer friend on why they can't put down some books, and wish I'd read her post first. Then I would have had words (dilemma, escalation, resolution) and an easy example to explain it properly. My take was much more long-winded.