So the fifth draft of my book is at more than 15,000 words, six-and-a-half chapters and about 43 pages. As I've gone through edits and revisions, I've made the hard choice that other writers often make: cutting some stuff out.
As the first book is part of a planned trilogy, I had a lot of characters I wanted to introduce along the way. However, I had one character I planned to introduce in the first book, but have decided to push back that character to the second book. He's not entirely out of the picture, but he is out of the first book. The reason I eliminated him was because I decided that some of his involvement wasn't going anywhere, but he becomes more important as the trilogy continues.
There is another character I had wanted to involve a lot in the first book, but now his role will be significantly reduced. This is because I decided that his involvement was repeating material that was covered by another character. So it was better to use him as a fairly insignificant character who only plays importance to a scene or two. This allowed me to put the focus on other characters who carry greater importance in the trilogy.
Finally, there were certain plot points I wanted to address, but I determined they dragged down the story too much. So a lot of them will be pushed back in the later installments of the trilogy.
As I have read what others have wrote, and talked to other people, I now understand why sometimes you have to get rid of certain characters, elements and concepts in order to sharpen the focus of your story.
With this said, it's fine when you are completing initial drafts of a story to throw out whatever you want. That's because it's the only way you will figure out what works and what doesn't work. You might find a character who you thought would be insignificant, instead be a compelling character who demands greater involvement in the story.
Even if you don't, you'll learn what can be removed to allow you to focus on more important details. And if you plan sequels, you can always introduce certain elements you eliminated, if you believe they can still build the world or plots you want to develop.
Cutting is never an easy task, but I've learned why it's essential to writing a good novel.
(Note: Yes, I'm being cryptic about the details, because I'm not ready to reveal them yet. Once I have a draft I'm ready to submit to agents, I may share more details, perhaps even a preview of the first chapter. In the meantime, I hope to have a book review up for you by the weekend.)