How To (Re)write: Backspace is Your Friend


Deleting words is just as important as writing them. When you’re trying to hit that desired 50,000, 75,000, 100,000 or whatever word count, you’re not focused on things to keep and get rid of. I have two tips on how to get rid of excess words. One takes work, the other is self-explanatory.

The Word-Loss Diet: Professional Self-Editing Techniques for Authors
by Rayne Hall

I cannot endorse this book or method enough. Before even attempting to rework excess scenes, you have delete excess words. I’ve gotten rid of “that” from my everyday vocabulary  as a result of doing this exercise. It helped me shave off tens of thousands of words (reverse NaNoWriMo).

They say you can’t be your own editor, so this book serves as a great framework for that. It’s like a little pocket editor and the instructions are so user-friendly.

Be Backspace-Happy

Trimming your book also ultimately comes down to one thing: Pulling the trigger on the backspace bar. And to think about it, but don’t overthink it. I’ve erased entire chapters. After a few workshop sessions with the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers, I’ve decided to delete an entire POV and the prologue. And it doesn’t hurt. Editing should hurt in the moment, but it should be more akin to ripping off a band-aid.

Another tip to make this process more painless? Just step away for a bit. A day, a week…however much time you need. But make sure that, when you’re ready to read, you’ve got your reader hat and your editor slippers. Getting into that mindset helped me understand my changes and hopefully it helps you too.


2 thoughts on “How To (Re)write: Backspace is Your Friend

  1. Hi Jo, I just recently began to follow you and I’m already reaping the benefits of learning from a writer. I love what you have to say about the “backspace is your friend”. I guess I believe that as well, and as you also mentioned, step away from the work for a bit. I also like to do that when I’m writing. I can’t point out enough how “spell check” is a great and not so great ‘friend’. Sure, it catches all your spelling errors, but nothing beats a hands-on (in this case – eyes on) approach. Spell check doesn’t catch words that don’t belong and are in the wrong order or words that have been mis-used. So this article was a great help. If I may, as a parting comment, I do proof reading for a dear friend and I’m always looking for new (to me) writers that can use my help. If you’re interested in any way, try reading a post I recently added to my own blog, titled” Uncle Ed. You can find it at: I’d be very grateful if you had a look and left me a comment. But at any rate, even if you’re not interested, I still intend to follow you. Jane


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