Friday, April 3, 2009

Delete It


DELETE [verb]: to remove or obliterate (written or printer matter), especially by drawing a line through it or marking it with a delete sign.

I've posted about this before, but once again I'm struck by how difficult this can be. Oftentimes I write like I talk, which includes a lot of additional words like "just" or "that." These words aren't needed on the page. DELETE. I use lots of -ly adverbs, or I used to...now I'm limiting myself to only truly amazing ones that add to the prose. DELETE. Then I wrote just two days ago about respecting readers and not giving them too much information that they either already would know or to leave some things to their imagination. DELETE. Again.

I guess it's a good thing I'm learning this now, as I'm sure if I ever am lucky enough to attract an agent's or editor's attention, I'll have to DELETE big time. I recently held an email conversation of sorts with a pubbed author who was going to have to DELETE major portions of a book that was bought out in advance because the publisher didn't like the finished product. Either DELETE or buy back the book or write two more books to make up for it. Whoa.

I'm glad I'm honing this skill. You should be, too. Question: have you had to DELETE anything recently that was hard to do?

7 comments:

sherrinda said...

Man...an author had to delete parts of her book or buy the book back? Yikes...I would cry.

I've been going back through and deleting TONS of that's. I didn't realize how much I do that! ha!

Jeannie Campbell said...

it's amazing how much that that :) sneaks up in our writing! what's up with that? :)

Jody Hedlund said...

I recently went through my finished MS and deleted close to 10,000 words. I got the total word count to 100,000 and got rid of a lot of things you mentioned--repeats, passive verbs, -ing verbs, -ly adverbs, dialog tags, etc, etc! It was a lot of work. But I hacked away and it felt really good! What does that say about me?!

Katie said...

I delete all the time. Usually, my first draft is 10,00-20,000 words more than my final draft. Not kidding. I delete that much. And my writing is always better because of it.

By the way - you hardly ever use -ly words anymore. I didn't highlight a single one in chapter nine because I don't think there were any!!

Katie said...

I mean chapter 12. :)

Jeannie Campbell said...

I guess it's starting to sink in, Katie! Yay. :)

Jody...it says your a literary masochist. that's my clinical opinion....

:) :)

Ralene said...

I had to delete a whole chapter! Broke my heart b/c I felt it was some of my best writing. Critique group agreed, but said it didn't forward the story. How sad...