Tuesday, 14 April 2015

What the heck does kill your darlings mean? (Part II) #writing

He's back. I couldn't kill him from this writing series.
Last week I wrote about killing off a beloved character. If you missed it click here. This time we’re discussing editing out the excess words not needed in the story.

I believe all of us have done this in our writing. Or we wished an author had done it in theirs as we read two pages about a room description that means nothing to the story. Yes a wordectomy should’ve been done at some point during the editing. I’m sure we’d be surprised at how many words didn’t make it into the book. Can we say an epic number of words?

Do I have a problem getting rid of words in my story? A resounding yes to that because it seems at the time every word is important and has meaning within the novel. But when one of my fabulous beta reader wacks away at the story with a machete making the story flow better, then those same words don’t seem as over-my-dead-body-will-I-get-rid-of-this-sentence as it did before.

My friend is probably going to kill me if she reads this post, but I’m going to tell on her anyway, because it’s such a wonderful example. We were entering a writing competition and she overshot the word count by five hundred words (I can hear your gasp). She had to make some cuts to the story. Rather than do that, she didn’t enter the story into the competition. She said she couldn’t do it.
The editor wanted the story to be entered, so he was willing to shorten it for her. (Oh the horror). She refused, didn’t enter the competition and was more than happy that her piece stayed intact.

Sometimes editors play a tug of war with the writers, and that’s why we see overflowing descriptions of clothing (I’m talking from baseball cap to scruffy sneakers in intricate detail) in some stories.

Do you have difficulty culling the words in your work?


  1. Lol, Nana. Not yet published yet so I can't comment except to say that your input helped me lot to kill lots of words in WIP that were superfluous! Its still a WIP and soon you will have to read the whole works for me as my first editor. lol!

    1. I'm glad I could help, Celestine. Looking forward to reading your completed work.


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