Killing My Darlings

It’s an old saying, but it’s good advice.

Kill your darlings.


I’d heard it said many times but I never really thought about it pertaining to me. *insert smiley face*

Well, guess what? It pertains to all writers.

You love your words. You do. It may be a sentence, a paragraph, a scene or a whole chapter that just doesn’t fit.

And you have to let it go.

So how do you know what to kill and what to show mercy?

I think the answer is easy. I think most of us know when we’re writing things that will need to be slayed, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still suck on epic levels when we finally come to terms that we have to do it.

This is the thing: I can read my manuscript with an objective eye. Really. Sometimes everything gets a bit muddled because I’ve read it so many times, but I know the rules.

And I can spot a broken one a mile away. As can many of you.

Seeing the flaws or unnecessary words isn’t always the hard part. It’s hitting that wretched delete button that makes us want to find a tub of chocolate and drown in it.

The issue I have is that I KNOW WHEN I’M WRITING SOMETHING IF IT BELONGS OR NOT.

And, as yesterday proved, that still doesn’t stop me.

Now, I sit here today knowing I have to go back in and cut all that crap (it was all telling), and find a way to show those details which WILL NOT BE EASY. But off I go, to kill my darlings.

CUT THE FLUFF. KILL YOUR DARLINGS. SAY ONLY WHAT HAS TO BE SAID.


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11 Comments

  1. Very wise. You can't show mercy, even if a scene it great. I wouldn't toss it out, though. Save it. You might be able to use it in another story. Once of my short stories actually was a former axed scene from my novel. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Ew…I really hate doing this to my babies, but yet, it is something that absolutely must be done at times.

    You know what I do to keep from feeling really bad about it? I *fake* kill them by removing the chapter/scene from the story and pasting it into another word doc entirely and saving that as an 'outtake.' Never know when you might want/need to refer to it in the future, or who knows, you may get published and it'd be great to have it on hand to post on your site as 'extra' for fans. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. At first I cringe and wince like everyone else. Then I look at it like a surgeon and realize "I don't NEED this for my story to live". It's kind of like removing my story's tonsils. Everyone feels better afterwards.

  4. I'm in editing mode right now. Some days the cutting comes easy… Other days I'm apologizing to the screen as I hit the delete button.

    I doubt this will ever get any easier. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. So, so true. (I'm a little late to this one as I'm just now following your blog–and enjoying it!) I'm with Melinda on this, though, and and agree it's good to always save it somewhere, just in case you want to make an outtake book. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Or use the cut scenes for some other story one day. I just chopped a new scene I'd written for my book, and though I was sad to see it go, particularly since I'd only recently added it, it just made sense. But I saved it, still…

  6. Such a hard concept, but so true and necessary! Great post!

    I also wanted to stop by and let you know I tagged you in a fun blog survey if you're interested in participating!