Creative Writing Tip: The “Who Gives a…” Test

Best-selling author Toni Turner shared with me a tip that an editor once gave her. It’s called the “Who gives a…” test, because this is the question that readers will ask when they look at something you put in your story.

As you review your writing, scrutinize whether what you put in contributes to the work. Some tests to help you determine this:

  • Does the scene move the story along?
  • Does the character play a useful role in the story?
  • Is the information something the reader really needs?
  • Can you remove any of the description without affecting the mood or meaning of a scene?
  • Are there any unnecessary words, such as adverbs, unneeded speaking attributions, redundancies, “to be” words used in passive voice, and filler words?

You’ll be surprised by the amount of unnecessary material you’ll find in your writing. I used this tip in revising my novel Offline, and I was able to cut out 12,000 words out of a 81,000-word draft while making the story tighter, more dramatic, and more readable.

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