The YA novel I’m sending out to agents right now is 95,000 words, about 5,000 words past the high end of the count for YA fantasy. I’d like to cut out 5,000 words, but the story is pretty tight and I haven’t found the place to make more than minor cuts.
So, I’m being pretty word-count conscious as I work on my next project, even though I’m early on in the process. My second draft is already 60,699 words, which is pretty high considering how much fleshing out I need to do. As I’ve been revising (on paper) I’ve found some places to cut. I cut some secondary characters that I really liked but added to much word count for not enough story development, and I used some other characters to take on their functions. I also cut an entire scene which duplicated a much more important scene later. That was easy, because it was a first draft exploration of my story when I still wasn’t sure where it was going. I consider that developmental work and not wasted work, because it got the story to where it needed to go.
Of course, I also added a whole lot of words, mostly in description and to deepen character and action scenes, so I have a feeling I might come out even. I’ll be reporting back.