It is a painful time in a writer’s life when the time comes to kill their darlings. Of course, we’re not talking about anything too horrific here but it’s sometimes up to the writer to make cuts so they can make great stories.
The term “kill your darlings” was first introduced by William Faulkner. The phrase advises writers to remove any part of their writing which they have included purely for their own connection to it. This generally refers to characters but it can also include description or dialogue. It may be that within your most recent story you include a delightfully funny character because they remind you of your own best friend and when you read back over their dialogue, you find that they throw in some brilliant jokes. However, they don’t take your story anywhere. For this story, they are useless. This is the point where you need to make a cut.
There are two points you should consider when reviewing your writing:
- Does this character/paragraph/sentence add information which is absolutely necessary for the writing to make sense and to move your plot along?
- Is there any part of your writing that you love but you feel just doesn’t work for this particular project?
If you are able to relate to the above points, hopefully you are able to recognize where these points are within your writing.
To “kill” is a scary thought and if you’re anything like us and squeamish, you won’t want the blood on your hands. Instead, we like to think of it as “hibernating” your darlings. Simply, put them to bed until you find a purpose for them.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by creating a folder on your computer or having a page in your notebook where you can store your idea or character. Then, when a suitable project comes up where you think you can use an idea or character to its full potential, you have all of your previous notes ready to go.
Be strong- we know you can do it!