Sunday, May 4, 2014
Kill your darlings!
I say "kill your darlings," but what does that mean, exactly? I'm in editing on a fun project, and I had a moment where I wasn't sure if something WAS a darling, and therefore wasn't sure if it needed to die, after all. So here I am, fleshing it out, like I always do.
The phrase came from William Faulkner, as writing advice, as I understand it. The official quote, the way I've seen it is, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” If it's something you threw in just because it's cute and clever and you just love it? It probably doesn't belong.
That cute little blip you threw in about not cleaning counters and chairs with the same rag? Probably not relevant. If it doesn't move the plot forward or give you insight into the character's mindset? Probably doesn't belong.
I'm keeping my cute little thing for right now, because I think it DOES still fit, but I marked it for later review. I'm not sure, which means it might just be something that needs to go away. It's so hard to see these things yourself, as the writer, because you love them. But when editing, we need to put on our reader hats, and see if it reads well. As the reader, not the writer. And if not? It needs to die.
For now, I'm working on re-arranging some information that's important to the plot, so it reads smoother and is less info-dump-y... and editing some decisions I made for some characters, because it's really not "in character" for them, etc. My hard copy is rather marked up at the moment, and it's mostly in need to rearranging and rewriting, with a few added scenes. But it's coming together nicely! And I can look at that paragraph later, to decide what needs to happen to it.
Happy editing, or writing, or researching, wherever you are right now! :) Be strong, my friends. The darlings are lovely. But they all need to die. I promise, the story will be better for it. Even if it hurts.