Saturday, July 17, 2021

Throwing Away Words

Have you ever experienced wishing you could unsay something you've uttered in haste, without thinking, or in temper? Luckily writing helps you do just that, but it can often leave the feeling of the former scenario. 

Writing is often hard. Thinking up words and writing them down takes mental energy and time. Throwing them away can cause me doubts such as am I sure this is the best thing for the story? Have I deleted wording? Yes! Not only paragraphs but sections of numerous pages. Of course, the decision to remove wording is because I think it will make a better, more unified story. Not a few word changes in a sentence for clarity, but discarding several sentences, paragraphs, or even pages because they do not add to the reader's knowledge of the character, the plot, or the setting. Leaving those sections of wording in, no matter how large or small, makes the story ramble and may create disinterest in the reader so they quit the story. 

The writing process requires me to think about the story's purpose. Thoughts like: Where is the story going? Does this section add understanding of the character or expand their character? Or does this character need more clarification or purpose? Are they needed? Sometimes it raises the question should I change the plot and purpose?

Either in the writing process or editing process, when a section slows my reading I ask myself what is its purpose? How does this wording affect the plot or the character development? Or does this wording add to the setting?  

I do keep ejected wording in a separate document just in case I change my mind, but I have discovered I usually don't. I have never thought whether that wording might lead to another story or work in another one in progress, but maybe I should have. 

When the words involved do not apply to the plot, setting, or to the development of the character, it's just wordiness. In that case, it's better for the story and for the reader to get rid of it.

Anne Stenhouse 

Dr. Bob Rich 

Skye Taylor 

Connie Vines 

Marci Baun 


Beverley Bateman 

Fiona McGier 

Helena Fairfax 

Judith Copec


  1. Never considered that words written in haste can be removed is a good thing we don't have in live dialog but you're right. How often have we thought a day or week later, or even moments later, " I should have said....". Not just hasty words that were wrong to say in the first place, but clever passages we didn't think of at the time. But authors get to do just that.

  2. Good post, Rhobin. I like how you think and assess the purpose of the story.

  3. I like that 'it's just wordiness'. Over-writing because one is word-drunk is a trial. As you say so well, we have the privilege of amending. anne

  4. I agree, Rhobin. In my editing work, I often tell clients that every scene, every paragraph, even every word needs to do a job. If it doesn't add something, then CUT.

  5. Rhobin, I used to save deleted scenes, too, thinking I might change my mind, or might be able to use them elsewhere, and then never did. I stopped saving them after that, but since doing this Round Robin I've found how other authors are using these scenes in a creative way. Thanks so much for organising. I always learn something new from these Round Robins.