It was Sol Stien who advised the benefit/necessity of looking at one’s whole novel, then cutting the weakest chapter. This leaves the whole remaining work stronger and forces tighter writing.
Then you do it again. And again. Until you literally cannot do it again without destroying the essence of the story.
Then, I suppose, you move on to doing the same with paragraphs.
My goal (like I said) is to get down another 20,000 words (if at all possible) because I have two scenes I want to experiment with adding (back) in.
And, yes, this number’s arbitrary. Yes, I’m mostly interested in the book being “the best it can be” but it is useful to look at books I admire, with fully realized relationships and worlds and see that possible in less than 85,000.
There might be a couple holes– I’d want to re-read before naming names here on the blog, but I can’t imagine patching those would have to add 25% to the word-count.
Anyway, my hat’s in the ring.
And if any readers want to leave a vote for most-necessary-to-keep, or candidate best for cutting, I will certainly bring that under consideration.