Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't Kill Your Darlings! ( Writing tip # 2 !)

I've never been a fan of the expression" Kill your darlings." In fact, it bugged the hell out of me. I always thought, Well, then what should I leave? All the lines I thought sucked? I get the concept behind it; you have to be willing to let go of a line, paragraph, or entire scenes if it doesn't work for the story. But the idea that you should kill sections you really love, just because you love them doesn't work for me.

So here's what did!

There were times when I was revising STILL MISSING that I had to cut a scene or a paragraph, but there was a line in there that I loved, and OH, MY GOD did I love it. So I'd spend hours trying to fit it in somewhere, or building entire paragraphs around it, trying everything and anything to hang on to what was now the most-wonderful-line-ever-written-that- would-catapult-me-to-superstardom-and-had-to-be saved-at-all-costs.

But then, the little voice in the back of my head ( the same one I used to ignore back in my dating days) would start to whisper, You're trying too hard to make it fit. It shouldn't be this difficult. It just doesn't work. You have to move on. Then the voice would start to chant the dreaded phrase, "Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, kill your darlings."

But I couldn't. I wouldn't.

So I found a loophole. I opened another Word document and pasted in all the pieces I couldn't let go of. Sort of a holding area, or a waiting room, if you will. I told myself I'd go back and see if I could fit them in another time, in another chapter. And you know what? I never did. But they're all there if I need them.

So if you don't want to kill your darlings, relocate them!

1 comment:

  1. I laughed out loud. I do the same thing. I figure I never know when I might need/want those lines.