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This week’s topic comes from Carrie Elks: Stephen King famously said that it’s necessary to ‘kill your darlings’ when editing your work. Do you have anything you had to remove from a book that you’re still proud of? Or something that embarrasses you so much it will never again see the light of day? If you’re feeling really brave, share some of it with us!
I must admit that my first book, Intoxicated, was over 400,000 words long. It was epic and the result of five years effort. I held onto every word of that book like my life depended on it. After all, I had put everything I had into writing it. When I finally decided to get serious and publish the darn thing, I realized I would have to do the dreaded thing and “kill my darlings”.
On the advice of several published authors, I cut the first chapter. It was mostly backstory anyway. Now, the story started in the thick of the action. Then I went in and deleted all the “info dumps” where I needlessly provided information that would put most readers to sleep. I also have an unconscious love for over-the-top drama. My editor said, “There sure is a lot of face-slapping going on. Is that really necessary?” She was so right. She also said, “Everyone is always ‘short of breath’ or their ‘heart is pounding’. You’re writing a book about physically abusive people with COPD.” I’m embarrassed to think about it now, but she was right. Bless her for sticking with me. I hope I’ve gotten better about those things.
Now, for the shameful admission: I am a word-hoarder. I couldn’t bear to part with the 330,000 words that I cut, so I stuck them in a file. Yes, I still have them, and yes, I occasionally go back to read them. I’m thinking about writing a sequel and might use parts of it.
I’m currently in edits on my fifth book. Sometimes I cringe at the thought of deleting one of my favorite scenes, but in the end, it’s all about what serves the story. If the scene doesn’t move the plot forward or provide growth for the characters, it’s got to go. I won’t say that it’s easy, but I’ve gotten a lot better about it.
Thanks for stopping by this week. Be sure to take the next stop on the tour and find out what creative idea Xio Axelrod has come up with for this interesting topic.