K is for Kill (Killing Things That Don’t Belong in the Story)

It can be hard to let things go, but if someone or something in your story doesn’t do anything for the plot, throw it out.


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One of the worst things you can do in your story is ramble on about things that slow the story down.  You might know some awesome tidbit from the research you did for the story, or there might be some clever line or scene that you love, or there might be a secondary character you adore.  But (and I know this is hard), you have to get rid of anything that doesn’t add to the plot.

Yes, you don’t want to rush anything.  But you also don’t want to do anything that slows down the story.  Pacing is important.  The balance is a delicate one.  But in this post, I’m talking about avoiding things that will bore the reader.  Anything that bores the reader needs to be thrown out.

The test, of course, is what to toss out.  How do you decide such a thing?

An easy way to figure out if you need a scene is to remove it and see if the plot is still the same.  If it is, kill the scene.

If you have a character that only seems to get in the way and doesn’t add anything to the story, toss him out.  You might have had a plan for the character early on, but the story just didn’t go the way you planned and this character is no longer needed.  If this is the case, get rid of him.  Now if you have very minor character who adds some comic relief or some interesting little bit that doesn’t overwhelm the scene, then go ahead and keep him. It’s okay to have something small from a minor character inserted as long as it doesn’t detract from the plot.

If you’re info dumping about something you learned while researching on a topic for the book and this info dump does nothing to advance the plot, toss the info dump out.

If your characters are talking, and one says something that is a lot of fun or poetic, but this doesn’t lead into the rest of the conversation, you’ll have to kill it.

One thing you can do with these deleted parts is put them on your blog, add them as special scenes for those on your email lists, or add them to the end of the book (as you would a deleted scene in a DVD).  So you don’t necessarily have to say good-bye to them completely.

This post is part of the Blogging from A – Z Challenge.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to https://ruthannnordinsbooks.wordpress.com/.
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5 Responses to K is for Kill (Killing Things That Don’t Belong in the Story)

  1. I need to remember to do that – to save deleted scenes – or at least the ones I change so much they’re nowhere near what they started out to be. Great advice! 🙂

    • I only thought of it this year (maybe late last year) when I was struggling for ideas for what I could send out to people on my email list. I wish I had thought of it a lot sooner! 🙂

  2. Juli Hoffman says:

    I have files and files of deleted scenes! Hurts to cut them out, but I also found that when I’ve written myself into a corner, or the characters have turned weepy/angsty, it’s probably time to make some deletions. OUCH! I hate it when my characters become maudlin, whiny, little snots! LOL But, once I’ve gotten a scene like that out of my system, deleted it, and tried writing it again…it’s always MUCH better. Now, if only I could prevent the angst in the first place! It would be great if there was a room spray for that. Angst Away! Like Febreze, but for writers. LOL

    • LOL I would love an Angst Away spray. That would be great.

      I agree. It does hurt, and I’ve had to remove scenes and characters because I wrote myself into a corner. It’s still hard for me to remember how the final version of one of my books turned out to be because I have the initial draft that required extensive rewrites stuck in my mind.

  3. This is something I rarely have to do. I’m the opposite. I tend to leave stuff out that I should put in. When I edit my work, I end up having to add scenes instead of delete them. I know, I’m very strange. LOL

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