When To Hit Delete

Amy Sue Nathan at Women’s Fiction Writers wrote a wonderful post about making every word important to the story. I’ve been adding and deleting my novel countless times, trying to create a unique story without the overused words I find, such as: was, I, took. etc.

Here’s a great quote from Amy: “The way I see it, as authors, we have two options: delete it or make it matter.” I have a word document for my deleted scenes, and have been pouring over my manuscript and asking myself, is this important or just useless words to the reader? As I read more books and write/edit my book, it seems easier to find my useless words and either delete it or improve it, maybe even add an additional small but important scene. My thesaurus and dictionary have been great friends to me as I search for better words to express my characters’ reactions to their problems.

Do you either delete or improve your story countless times like me? Do you copy and paste the deleted words to a separate document?



  1. Nisa · May 10, 2011

    Deleting and improving are essential. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t have to do these things. I usually don’t keep a file of my deleted scenes. I’m kind of the dejunking queen. (I think it comes from all the times I’ve moved. lol)


    • Jennifer McFadden · May 10, 2011

      Hi Nisa,

      I keep the files because my memory recall doesn’t always work, so I keep them in case I want to write a novella about one of my favorite characters.


  2. Kayeleen Hamblin · May 10, 2011

    I always finish one draft without doing any editing, then copy and paste things I want to keep into a blank document. That way, I never lose any of the words I’ve written. You never know when you might want them.


    • Jennifer McFadden · May 10, 2011

      That’s an interesting idea….I’ve never thought of taking what I like out of the draft and placing it into my permanent draft. Thanks for the idea. 🙂


  3. jenniferneri · May 10, 2011

    that’s really all I do is edit! Not just individuals words, sentences, patagrapsh, scenes. For me the first draft is like breathing, it’s effortless. The editing is the work, and that I’m in for the long haul.

    Good luck with it!


    • Jennifer McFadden · May 10, 2011

      Editing is the hard work, and takes me so long because I want it to be worthy of people reading it.


  4. Cathryn Grant · May 10, 2011

    I do lots of deleting! I save scenes, sometimes sentences or lines of dialog. I’m trying to not save quite as much since I soon find myself drowning in files and draft versions.


  5. Jennifer McFadden · May 11, 2011

    Did you delete the extra files? I hope my files don’t get too big…


  6. writernubbin · May 11, 2011

    When I edit I keep the original as is in a Word document, then each revision/edit is saved as a ‘version’. Also, I do a fair amount of deleting–get it out!! ha ha But I find revising a challenge that gives me GREAT satisfaction once it is done just right.


    • Jennifer McFadden · May 11, 2011

      I bet you have great satisfaction when you are done, lol. At this rate, I wonder if I’ll ever have that satisfaction….


      • Akku · January 2, 2013

        Dashiel – Jenula and Jeff-er-doodle! you guys are sooo darn cute! these pictures are great i love how they show not only you guys pensiraloty but miller and shiners too! holly did a great job I cannot wait until the wedding and the booze haha love yall


  7. Edson · January 4, 2013

    genome468 on January 14, 2011 i checked out your site. not bad. its done prttey much like craigslist so i enjoyed the familiarity. A question tho. how long has the site been up? This can grow to be a big thing just like craigslist.. good luck to ya


    • Jennifer E. McFadden · March 9, 2013

      Thanks, Edson. This site has been here for about 2 1/2 years, though I haven’t spent much time here lately…


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