Editing Tip #6: When in Doubt, Delete It.

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Have you watched Marie Kondo on YouTube or Netflix? When she is helping people declutter and organize their home, what does she always ask?

Does this spark joy?
— Marie Kondo

I love this! That one simple question forces people to stop and think about their things, and often, people realize that they really don’t need that dress or that painting or that toy because it doesn’t increase the value of their life and home.

You can ask the exact same thing of your plot, characters, and words.

Does your protagonist spark joy for you? Does that scene where your antagonist and his twice-removed cousin are having coffee add to the value of the story?

Writing and editing experts will all say the same thing: if the item in question does not advance the story, if it does not add value, then delete it. Your story will be all the better for it.

Action Steps

  1. During your next editing read through of your book, think critically about every aspect and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy? Does this add to the value of my story?”

  2. If the answer is no, delete it or revise it so that it does add value to your story.

Do you find it hard to delete paragraphs, chapters, and characters? How do you overcome that? Share in the comments below!

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