Killing Off Your Lovelies

Dagger in hand held forward pointing to the right

photo from

I’ve been finishing rewrites to my manuscript per my editor’s suggestion. Over the years since the first draft, I’ve had to learn to kill my lovelies. Scenes written from the POV of secondary characters. Scenes evolving around secondary characters and lots and lots of words were deleted from my novel. Reading through this latest draft I recall those scenes and miss them. But you the reader will never know they have been murdered and buried in a deleted scenes file. The secondary characters stories are thinner. But that’s ok. It’s much more enjoyable for the reader to know just enough details to keep reading.

Mark Twain wrote a story about a man who followed every rabbit trail of character relationships before he ever reach the true point of his tale. By then the man had forgotten what he was talking about. It made for a hilarious tale, but done intentionally because you feel your reader needs to know those details is far from humorous. I don’t want my readers to forget key details. Or be confused by waist deep information although useful to know only bogs the reader down in descriptive details.

Some of my lovelies have been reshaped. A secondary character’s scene becomes a brief dialog. He shares his experience after the fact. We don’t get to see him do it but we feel his emotions as he shares.

Some juicy phrases shrink to a few words. But those words pack a big punch. There are juicy phrases that have stood the test of numerous rewrites. Now they are even more memorable due to the edits around them.

I’ve learned to not get too attached to secondary characters just in case they are killed off. As other authors oft state some of those characters beg to tell their story resulting in another book. One of my characters is doing that for me. So, I’m happy to revisit those deleted scenes when it’s time to resurrect her story.

What about you? What lovelies have you killed off in pursuit of a great story?

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