This week I’m (still) reading MaddAddam, the final installment in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian/post-apocalyptic series that began with Oryx & Crake. Dystopian fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction are not the same thing, of course, but all three books in the MaddAddam trilogy qualify as both because their present-day scenes take place after the destruction of (most of) humanity, while their flashback scenes take place in the dystopian burbclaves that preceded the apocalypse. Hence you get to eat your dystopia and have it too. Or something like that.
103,000 words = 215 letter-sized pages. Seems like it should add up to more, doesn’t it?
The first one or two times I make editing passes on a book, scenes tend to get longer. This is because I’ve found that if I keep going back and fleshing out earlier scenes as I think of more stuff, the book never gets finished. Here is an example, from a scene that introduces a character new to the story in part two of Shards: Brennendah, a scientifically-minded Rittandic whose job is to study the Æther, also known as the void, which is gradually consuming the region where the Rittandics live. (This loss of territory, known as the Unraveling, is what gives the territory—the Ravels—its name.) Here is the original paragraph, followed by the revised version: