So I had a thought today, that every time I write a first draft of a novel it ends up shorter than the last one. My first I finished at 100k (mainstream), my next just shy of 80k, then 60k or so for the next, and now my most recent draft is 54,638 words long. And it's science fiction.
But the more I got to thinking I realized that I should look past the numbers. I write really rough first drafts, that 100k one I know has plenty of "fluff" in it like my characters cleaning house (yes, my first novel). Compare that to my 50k draft where all the scenes are directly related to the main conflict, even if the dialogue does get way to wordy in places. There is even a spot in my outline where I jumped ahead, and when I revise there will be more events happening in the next draft.
I also realized another important thought. I know where to take this novel next. I know how the main characters grow, what events happen in the novel, what things I need to figure out yet in revision. I have a plan to take this rough bunch of 50k words into a more fleshed out novel. I can't say the same thing for that 100k draft. Yes, I could easily delete out the extra useless bits, but it lacks the basic building blocks of a novel. While the characters have some conflict, I hadn't done much with it.
So even with the shorter word counts, I'm pleased to see that my writing is growing in such a way that I can still keep working on a novel after the first draft. And know what I need to do next to boot.
18 hours ago