Oct 22, 2011

Do I need to loose some words?

By Bonnie Harris

I finally got a chunk of time to work on my writing. My wonderful sisters watched my baby and I got to stare at my computer screen, revising one of my manuscripts. Needless to say I was thrilled and got some really good revising done.

Now I knew that I needed to cut some words, so I was diligently working on strengthening sentences, taking out the unnecessary articles, and things like that. I had several moments that brought a smile to my face and the thought of, "This is really good," crossed my mind. It felt great to be so productive.

Well, I'm sure you can see where I'm headed with this. The last fifteen minutes I realized that what I had just spent the last hour and a half honing to perfection, didn't really need to be there. The scenes were wonderful, fun to write, showed character, everything you could want, but . . . it wasn't essential to the story. So, laughing at the irony (at least what I thought was an irony), I highlighted, copied and pasted into a new document (because you should never really delete anything), and deleted what I had just worked on. Bam! 5500 words gone. With the click of a button.

I laughed for the rest of the day, trying to figure out if there had been a way to avoid what I had just done. My conclusion, there really isn't. I remember in a class, Melanie Jacobson talking about how cutting scenes can be like cutting off arms and legs or ripping your heart out. I can see that now, but the benefit of deleting scenes? I learned a lot about my characters. They learned a lot about themselves and now I have more to build a strong story with the words I have left.

So I guess I'm saying, don't be afraid to delete. It can truly turn out to be for the better. I know for a long time I felt married to my words and couldn't let them go. If anything, I could have avoided this situation by not getting so attached that I couldn't let go until now. Gotta love lessons learned! Happy Writing and Deleting! :)


  1. Good for you, Bonnie! I'm glad to hear that you saved the parts you cut, too! you never know when they'll find a home somewhere else! thanks for this great reminder to not fall so in love with what we write that we can't see it for what it really is.

  2. Yes always save. Those deleted scenes have come in very handy later on in other stories.

  3. I think we're on the same wavelength, Bonnie.

  4. Linda Adams directed me once to have a folder called "Killing my darlings" I have this place for discarded thoughts waiting to find their place in a another prose.

    Love the post and the reminder!

  5. I recently deleted 5000 words from what I'd thought was my final draft. (I guess it's never really final!) I'd deleted 10,000 words in previous drafts! I could do what my husband does and look at it as getting rid of so many carefully crafted words, all those hours wasted--or I could rejoice in my MS losing weight and looking better for it. Yay!

  6. Love it Kristin! I am constantly telling students - "too wordy" Can I borrow and tell the students to have their essays lose word-weight? :-D


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