I’d seen this phrase a few times: “Kill your darlings.” and wondered what the heck it meant.
I’m not advocating taking up arms or anything like that. Oh, no.
This phrase is about not being afraid to butcher your work. To cut or kill your words to make your story better. I’ve seen a few people quoted from Elmore Leonard who suggests it’s about “leaving out the boring parts.” or Stephen King in his fabulous On Writing book where he talks about a comment from an editor:
‘Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.’
I don’t necessarily agree about the last part of that quote as it depends on how your write. Some write a light first draft and add to the second draft. Cutting 10% maybe, but you might also add 30%. That part is up to you and your style.
While I’ve been doing the third draft of I Can See You, I’ve cut about 5k overall, ditched three scenes because I agreed with Elmore, they affected the pace. Any key exposition included in another scene. The ease of using Scrivener has helped me keep the scenes outside the novel if I need to refer to them again.
If you’re working on a scene and find yourself struggling with it, not knowing what to do or how to fix it, cut it. Kill the scene and see what happens. Does it affect your story? Or the flow of your narrative?
That character you’ve re-written three times isn’t working. Ditch them too. Either as part of the narrative, let them fall under a combine-harvester or accidentally eat a poisonous mushroom or have a meteor fall on their head, or merge them with another character. You decide. They’re your darlings.
Kill them, kill them all. Muahahahaha
Ahem. Excuse me. I got a little carried away there.
How do you feel about “killing your darlings”?
This is my K post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be found here.
My pictures for today are from Keddleston Hall. A great place, just outside Derby. Built as a party pad. I wish!