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  • Writer's picturekatemac89

Kill your darlings! An indie author's guide to when murder is acceptable. (Part One)

I just deleted a scene! This rarely happens since I tend to underwrite and bulk-out the story afterwards, but every so often, I come across a scene I've written that just doesn't belong there.


Here's some advice on why—and when—sometimes you just got to do it.


Almost every single scene you write should advance the plot or the characters in some way. If it doesn't, there's a question of why it's included in the first place. There are, of course, exceptions. I might have a sweet, simple scene shortly before things go disastrously wrong, to highlight the drama and the action of the next scene. Far too often my fans bemoan the point at about 75% of the way through the novel where everything seems lovely and they know disaster is just around the corner. The story still stands on its own without that moment of sweetness, but it has greater impact with it.


Pacing is the main reason I include scenes like this... and pacing was the main reason I got rid of this scene I just did. In this instant, we've just had essentially three cute scenes in a row, all leading up to the start of the climax. We don't need three. By axing this one, I turn it into 1.5.


Now, the info that I snipped is *slightly* important to character, but not so important that it needed to go RIGHT THERE. I'm writing a series, so I'm banking on including this later, *if* I decide it's still relevant. Which it might not be.


Snipping the scene ALSO allows me to end the chapter on a much stronger, slightly more sinister note, which fits well after the sweet scene and on the road to the climax. It highlights an important detail that was previously sandwiched in.


Basically, snipping this one scene makes the book stronger, and stops it from losing momentum as we climb towards the finish. It's hard to snip something (especially when it's cute!) but if it helps make the story better, just do it!


You can always have the deleted scenes as part of a pre-order bonus.


It might be tempting (I know it is for me) to argue that the scene is needed for character development and it doesn't matter about the pace. This may well be the case. But ask yourself three questions:


1) does it need to go there?

2) is there another place it can go?

3) what is the pace of the scenes surrounding it?


If you're adamant, or unsure, make sure to ask a beta reader or editor when they get to that stage too. Their feedback may be more unbiased because they're not as attached to the characters and can see the story with a fresh pair of eyes.




Part 2 will look at murdering characters.

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