“X” is for X’ing it out

What, praytell, do I mean by this?

Well, I’ve come across a couple blog posts lately about the dastardly delete button and writers’ struggles with it. In my early writing days, I was quite afraid of the darn thing. I loved my wonky words so much that I couldn’t stomach the idea of cutting them out.

I was left with a gargantuan, 125,000 word mess. Oy.

It was through much learning and patient coaxing by my crit partners that I learned how to use Delete.

Much to my surprise, I found out Delete was not a monster. In fact, he was my friend. We erradicated passive voice, backstory, wordiness, even chapters that didn’t advance the plot.

We became BEST friends when I deleted the original draft of my YA dystopian. (I’ll be honest and say the deleting was figurative and not literal…I did reuse a few scenes in the rewrite.)

Now that Delete and I have a strong working relationship, I can use him without panicking or tears.

What’s your relationship with Delete like? Are you friends, enemies, frenemies??? Do you jump to Delete at a moment’s notice or do you use Delete as a last resort?

17 comments on ““X” is for X’ing it out

  1. Ciara Knight says:

    I have the opposite problem. I tend to write too tight and end up having to elaborate. 🙂 Great post, Laura. We’re in the home stretch!

  2. Kendall Grey says:

    So glad to hear you say this! As an editor (and writer too), I wish more people would learn to love their delete keys. We’re all guilty of falling in love with our darlings, turns of phrase, and crutch words, but we really need to learn it’s okay to KILL THEM ALL! 🙂

  3. Carradee says:

    I write with Scrivener, which has handy in-line annotations and snapshots. And a quick “duplicate.”

    If I write a line or paragraph I’m not sure about, I turn it into an annotation (which automatically won’t be compiled with the rest of the project, and I can pick the annotation color). If the scene isn’t quite right, I just take a snapshot and start editing.

    Then if I think I need to try again, I just “duplicate” everything I’ve already written, move it into my “OLD” or “Scraps” folder in the project, and delete whatever I want in my drafting copy.

    It’s actually made me a little overeager to delete some things that I later went back to put back in, but those things and Scrivener’s fabulous auto-save mean I don’t lose anything and can easily “search” for it later if I can’t remember where it is.

  4. For me it is directly proportionate with how much time I spent on the scene/sentence. If it’s just something I threw in there as a first draft, I have no problem deleting it. If I spent tons of time painstaking over every word and have to delete it, then I sometimes like a shot of Patron for its funeral 🙂 – great job on A to Z – only 2 more days!!

  5. Vicki Tremper says:

    Well, that delete button can be quite magic and sometimes you just need a little magic. Or a radical solution. And you can always keep those words in another file, or save previous drafts. You never know when you might want to rehabilitate a description or scene.

    Last summer I deleted an entire character. That felt weird, but right, at the time, and now I can’t imagine him in the book.

  6. Linda Gray says:

    My heart did a little (oh, no! type) flip flop when you said you deleted your original draft. I’m SO glad that was figurative. Nice compromise! You put the unwanted verbiage behind you, but you can still visit it and borrow from it in the future when you remember parts of it as you’re struggling for just the right words or thought.

  7. I have a love hate relationship with my delete key. I hate when I have to delete things sometimes, but I love how it tightens my writing.

  8. Reece says:

    For me, Delete is my enforcer. Delete is the six-foot-seven, 250-pound muscle-head I call when some pesky word/sentence/paragraph that won’t cooperate. I’m a reasonable man, but sometimes words just won’t do as I ask, and I’m forced to send Delete after them. So sad.

  9. Akoss says:

    The delete button and I are big time frenemies.
    We fight when I’m first drafting and we compromise a lot when I’m editing. 🙂

  10. I tend to delete easily, sometimes regretting the deed. I don’t like clutter. I discard things I don’t use to avoid formation of stacks. Sometimes I regret this also. The truth is (I think) both deleting words and discarding unnecessary things in the long run serve me well. The occasional regret is part of life. Blessings to you, Laura…

  11. talliroland says:

    I quite like deleting stuff! Guess I’m weird that way!

  12. cleverlyinked says:

    I am no writer, My typos and other mishaps are no surprise to me or anyone else. But my delete button is my BFF!

  13. vixter2010 says:

    Haha love it. I get a bit scared of my overall word count when I delete bits but it’s so important to edit so i need to get over that!

  14. Cheree Smith says:

    Sometimes I wish I could end up with 125,000 words and have to delete. My first draft is usually around 50,000 and I have to go back and add description and setting.

    If there’s anything to do with the delete key, it’s the enemy. It’s the reason why I rewrite my first chapter several times until I actually like what I’ve written.

  15. Trisha says:

    Right now, I’m enjoying deleting…but am finding it hard to figure out what I want to keep and what to get rid of. I KNOW I have too much, and I need to cut back…but there are a few scenes that are causing me grief!! And I have to do yet more ADDING of scenes… I thought I was done with that! But the new ideas keep cropping up. 😛

  16. roguemutt says:

    Try cutting a 225,000-word manuscript down to 175,000 words, now there’s some fun.

  17. Brett James Irvine says:

    I used to treasure every word I wrote and fall in love with painstakingly honed sentences crafted over hours of toil. I could never admit to myself that those were garbage, or wasteful. I would find every excuse to not hit the delete key.

    But, as most people learn, you can’t hang on to those words just because you like them. They have to serve a purpose, and if they don’t they must go. Once you learn to get over that, the delete key is friendly.

    It’s a tough lesson to learn, however – I still have a few paragraphs saved in my writing space from stories or books that I still can’t bring myself to get rid of. Maybe one day I’ll delete them. Or…maybe not.

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