Wednesday, 13 April 2011

K is for Kill your Darlings

"When you write a story, you're telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story." 
                                                                                                                                                                  Stephen King (On Writing)

There comes a time when we all have to commit novel carnage. Whether it be a minor character who does nothing for the plot, our favourite scene/line/chapter that goes nowhere. Yep, sooner or later we have to kill our darlings.

I'm a writer that has no trouble torturing my characters. I love to edit and I'll edit ruthlessly. I'll cut adverbs and redundant dialogue tags all day, but killing my darlings is hard sometimes.

We pour our heart and soul into those words. We want to hug those scenes that make us giggle because we remember writing them. We send the draft off to our CP's and wait. They'll love it as much as we do, right?

They probably will, but they'll also notice those little bits you are unsure of. They hone in on scenes that are great, but don't advance the plot. They suggest the line we love more than cookies could be cut and tighten the pace. They point out that character who is only in one scene and doesn't do anything.

We can cry. Stamp our feet, put our fingers in our ears and go "la la la la la," but it won't change what we know deep down -- sometimes we have to kill our darlings. So we ponder over it Delete it, paste it back. Delete it and read it again. And it's better without it. So we send them into the deleted scenes file, crossing our fingers we'll use them one day.

Sometimes those words have to take a sacrifice for the team. 

14 comments:

Áine Tierney said...

Know the feeling. I'm struggling with it at the moment. Whole sections of my first draft have to go. Ah, well, it all brings me closer to completion.

mooderino said...

Nice post. I did the same K (from a slightly different angle).
regards
mood
Moody Writing

Christine Murray said...

This is so true. One of my beta readers suggested a change that I didn't like because it meant that a cool idea I had would have to be scrapped. In the end he was right and I made the change, but I still love the part I cut. Oh well!

Renae said...

Such a true post, sometimes we have to sacrifice a favorite line or scene, but if it makes your story better it's worth it!

Christina Lee said...

Exactly what I've been doing this week, since my beta slashed through my scenes *weeping*. But it DOES move the action along, so I'm thankful!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

LOL You're the second one to comment on killing your darlings today for A-Z, but the other person had a unique perspective to it (I'm linking it on Friday).

It is soooo much easier to kill your darlings when you CP or beta readers tell you it's not working. They're the voice of reason. :D

Katie Mills said...

Yeah, it's hard to take out scenes you love because they don't move the story along. Or worse, a whole character that has to go along with the plot thread that included them because it created a hole. Not fun. Great post!

Matthew MacNish said...

It's tough, but necessary.

Talli Roland said...

Exactly! Sometimes I think I get way too much enjoyment cutting those words.

Jessica Hill said...

I'm totally with you on this! I can edit a manuscript to death, but killing off characters can be difficult. I had to cut my favorite minor character from a recent story I wrote, and I was sad to do so, but I knew it would make the story stronger in the end.

Carol Riggs said...

Great post. Sigh, I hate to kill those "darlings." But like you said, if I put them in a Deleted file, I don't feel so bad. ;o)

Karen Peterson said...

I absolutely love that book and it's true. Killing our darlings is dang hard. But sometimes it has to be done.

Regina said...

Morbid as it is, I love the term Killing your Darlings. It is something that you have to do sometimes to get the impact you want out of your book. Sometimes no matter how much you love your little darling, it is time for them to go.

Jeanmarie Anaya said...

Every time I delete over a passage I once loved, I find I am much better off without it. Takes a while to stop crying about it, though. :)