I am coming up on a deadline for editing the current section of Red Markets I'm under contract for. This is the GM's section and I am currently fighting to bring it under 70K words. As of writing this post, I've only got 232 more words to shave off to meet that goal. Which by the way, was not one set by Caleb. His line, I believe, was 'cut as much as possible' — I'm the one trying to hit a specific word count.
I've gone from cutting an entire sidebar (about four paragraphs), to pulling sentences, to rephrasing clauses because the rephrased version uses one or two words less. I've read and reread this section so many times I think I've started to memorize passages. The other day I had to use the search function to check if a topic had already been mentioned, because the information's been in my head so long I just can't remember ordering anymore.
You know that thing when you write and you've written a draft and written another draft and rewritten your story so many times, you're not sure what actually happens in your finished story and what ended up cut? I'm hitting that as an editor. ... I may be just a wee bit neurotic about making enough passes.
I do think the editing down is going to have been easier on this section than the next one up for contract. Next up is going to be in-universe fiction, instead of the primarily rules-based technical writing of the GM's section. And while I'm going to really enjoy the fiction, I find it more ambiguous when to cut words in fiction. Technical writing, the question to ask is 'does this bit of writing support teaching the rule?' Fiction, I think the question is going to be 'does this passage support the feel of the game the author is going for?' And based on his writing so far, the answer is always going to be yes.
Eh, maybe I'm borrowing trouble. Maybe I'm borrowing the wrong trouble, too — going to be moving further into killing the author's darlings with fiction after all.
Either way, it'll be fun.