When creative writers think of parenting, they normally think of someone biologically bearing a child, but there is more than one kind of parent. There is the unmarried parent, the divorced parent, the parent to be, and the adoptive parent, to name a few. But still there is another kind of parent we haven't named, and that is parenting the created word. Although it may not conjure up the same status as that of physical parenting, the labor is just as real.

Every writer knows their words are their babies, and heaven help the critic who says we should strike or change a few words here for there. Not only is it unforgivable, it cuts to the core of our being. This is one place that writer's groups provide an invaluable service. There is no better place to grow a thick skin than in a writer's group. After all, would you rather hear stinging criticism from another newb, or would you rather hear it from an editor who cares nothing about your pain?

There is a simple trick to avoiding this kind of literary suffering, and that is to murder your own babies. You will recognize them when a part of you cries out, "That doesn't really fit," and another part cries out, "But I like it!" You know in your heart

it is time to pull out your scalpel and begin cutting. Although the wound will bleed, you will know you are maturing as a writer.

But far better than discarding the phrase altogether is dropping it into a special file. One of these days you will find the perfect place for that phrase.

The best time to murder your babies is when you edit for verbiage (wordiness). Say the same thing in fewer words. Trim away the fat and leave only the lean. That means edit scenes, edit dialog, and edit the plot in general. Brevity is the key ingredient that must stay. Say it with less. Say it better. Jazz your verbs.

Especially look for prepositional phrases. You should never have more than three prepositional phrases to a sentence, whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction. Let's be honest – all writers use padding. It is a little-thought-of procedure whereby we writers drag on a scene or dialog.

Have you ever seen a jokester who has his pulse on the audience drag the joke out… and out… and out… until you just wish it was over with? That is a sure sign of someone enjoying their 15 minutes of fame and not wanting it to end. It's the same thing with us writers. We have the audience in the palm of our hands and we hate to let them go. But let them go we must, because the readers need time to rest their minds so they can better absorb the chunks of meat we have just fed them.

So the next time you are editing, get the scalpel and bandages out and prepare to dissect. Although the parent will barely survive, the baby will be perfect. See more writing tips below.