The Fine Art of Killing Words: Editing For A Lean, Mean Manuscript

2021 May | Craft

WHEN: May 3, 2021 – May 31, 2021 via GroupsIO

Course Description:

Not long ago my agent gave me what sounded like an impossible mission. Trim a 100,000+ word manuscript to under 90,000 words. That’s approximately 35 pages worth of words. Words I sweated to string together. Words I loved.

“I think it will interest more editors at the shorter length,” my agent said. Considering I’d done estimated word counts on similar books and thought that 100,000 was on the slim side, I was dumbfounded. I’d already edited it to death, I thought.

I thought wrong.

The thing to remember is that the marketplace changes, but those changes frequently don’t show up at the bookstore until the manuscripts currently bought by editors make it to the bookshelves. This could be anywhere from months to a couple years away.

If editors were now looking for shorter stories, so be it, I thought and settled in for yet another set of editing sessions.

And cut 11,353 words – in five days’ time.

Oddly enough, the manuscript I’d thought was perfect, sang much more sweetly when I finished.

In four weeks, we’ll walk this walk together, evaluating what can go and what needs to stay, changing verbs, revising sentences, giving up adverbs (hardest thing for me!), trimming descriptions, catching when characters babble, and limiting dialogue tags.

The Fine Art of Killing Words isn’t entirely about using the delete key, it’s about turning out a manuscript that hits all the right notes.

About the Instructor:

Beth Daniels has been a workshop presenter in the RWA universe since 2009. She is the author of over 30 novels, 13 short stories, 9 novellas, and still adding to those numbers in 2021. Currently, she writes romance as Beth Henderson, urban fantasy/mystery as J.B. Dane, and Steampunk, Dieselpunk and Gaslamp Fantasy mystery/comedy as Nied Darnell. Visit her at,, or