All I have been hearing for the last year is that debut novels should be capped off at 120 thousand words. And I've gamely resisted the call of reason.
Until this last summer. And for six months I've wrestled my novel of 160 thousand words to one that is under 120 thousand. After cutting out chunks of plot, I created a monster. A novel that was all plot and no narrative. So, that was scrapped after six weeks work. What is worse, I realized that my old novel lacked the depth seen in novels today, as if the story had cut corners.
My next approach was to cut the novel in half (80 thousand words a piece) and then inject new ideas and conflicts and added character depth to round out a story that has the levels and flavors to be an interesting read and more in-line with the structure of other novels published in the last few years.
In this approach, the four-book series will become an eight-book series. Now I'm ready to begin the search for an agent once again.