This morning I woke up with the realization that the last chapter I edited yesterday (which I trimmed down until only its vital (or so I thought) components remained) could be cut out altogether. Or nearly so.
There's one brief passage that must be worked in. There's a good spot for it in the next chapter, in the midst of action and dialogue, instead of as part of a chunk of exposition, as it used to exist. So, that's good. Dropping a small bit of exposition (two or three sentences) into the midst of action to explain one character's attitude is better than using it to catch the reader up during a lull (thus making that lull even longer).
There's another short passage I hope to work in somewhere, but as yet I don't know where. I'm pretty sure there is a place, but for now I'll leave it floating in blue text at the spot where it used to fall, so I don't overlook it later.
I'm excited to cut 2000 words off at a swipe, and I'm sad. I liked the chapter. It's hard to see it go. But I realized that nothing crucial happened, either concerning the plot, or the characters, that isn't done elsewhere in the story (and can be strengthened in those elsewheres).
So it goes. And I'm nearer to seeing the total count fall below 180K. I want to see some blue sevens by the end of the week!
I'm thrilled to discover that after so much time (over five years now) spent on this book and these characters, I love them passionately and am enjoying their story... yet again. I see the editing, hard choices, time spent evaluating every scene, every sentence, is paying off in a stronger story and more vibrant characters. Certainly better crafted sentences.
If I do say so myself. :-)