Can you believe we’re already on week three of February?? I’ve honestly done so much work that it feels like it should at least be April by now. I’ve been crazy busy the past few weeks, but it’s all paying off, because…drumroll, please…Lady of Daemons is down to 93,000 words. From 113,000 words.
That’s a whopping 20,000 words gone, and I’m not even done slashing.
It’s kind of weird to be hardcore celebrating a word count that’s going down, not up. But—as my beautifully ruthless CPs kept pointing out—I have a problem with filler. And, okay, it’s not like I didn’t know that. 133k is insane. That’s why I specifically asked all my CPs to be brutal about pointing out what was unnecessary.
But sweet avocado toast, I didn’t expect to be able to cut 20,000 from the novel without losing the plot. I knew the problem was bad, but 20,000 bad? Did not see that coming.
I feel like I’m finally starting to understand what it means to kill your darlings. I’ve murdered my fair share of them in the past, but it was always so obvious to me what needed to go in order to make the plot as taut as possible. Some of this stuff has blindsided me…and, if I’m honest, broken my heart a little bit. There were scenes that expanded on characterisation but didn’t push the plot forward. There were scenes that used to be crucial but lost their relevance as the plot changed and coalesced. There were even some scenes that were just plain useless, but I loved them with all my little heart.
I didn’t want to let them go, even though they weren’t useful.
Writing is all kinds of hard. It’s hard to produce words, but it’s also hard to say goodbye to them. As writers, we have to be strong enough to let go of the things which we love but which ultimately hold us back. If you’re struggling to kill your darlings, know that you’re not alone.
And then go get your novel-stabbing knife and cut those extraneous scenes out. There’s only one way to a well-paced, filler-free story.
On a completely different note: I meant to post these writing prompts at the beginning of February, but life kinda got in the way. Whoops. Here they are now—no longer piping hot, but still plenty good.
How much have you cut from your WIPs? Which do you find harder, writing the words or cutting them out during editing? What’s your target word count and how close are you to it? Do you save the words you’ve cut?