The other day, I sat back and calculated that I've cut about 11,000 words from the first 14 chapters (a little more than half) of my book. I wish I could be more efficient when I write, and I have a lot more left to cut, but I was struck by something that I've not seen anyone address explicitly in the various writing circles to which I belong.
When do you have a manuscript? I've referred to my book that way as a shorthand, but when does it go from being a work in progress (WIP) to a manuscript (MS)?
For me, it's definitely after editing, beta-reading, critique partnering, editing again, rewriting a couple of times, and editing again.
What I'm feeling this time, in this edit, is after lots of rewriting for things like characterization, plot, inner vs. external dialogue, etc., I'm down to looking at the words I used and making sure they push the story forward. Individual words, not plot points or character traits or making sure the tension ratchets up in each scene. I'm actually down to ... words.
Maybe that's it? This version is the strongest thus far, and is only getting stronger, as I focus on the words. Perhaps that's the difference between a WIP and a MS?