I’m beginning to notice a trend. If the word count maximum is 3000, I end up writing at least 4500 words. If the word count is 6000, I end up writing 8000. Let’s just face it: I can’t follow a recommended word count worth a damn. It’s a downside to being a novel writer, where there’s so much room to stretch and explore, so that even when I’m sparse and careful with my word choices, I still manage to overextend myself. Even when I think I’ll be able to stay within word count, I always seem to go over. I don’t have this problem with fanfiction, but that’s mostly because I don’t have to worry about establishing worlds – they’re already pre-established.
In the meantime, I shall continue struggling to pare down after completing the fiction, sometimes to the point of letting go things I really like. That is, if I can.