Kill Your Darlings

Have you heard of this yet? New authors are frequently told that they have to be able to kill their darlings. This is supposed to mean that they need to be able to cut even their most favorite parts of their writing if it doesn’t significantly add to the whole. It also means that no matter how much they may love their characters, sometimes they just don’t belong in the story. Another way that editing is compared to parenting is the saying that when looking for critiques, you need to go to someone who will tell you that your baby is ugly.

Parenting is a tough job. And so is editing. I’ve been a parent, and the hardest thing I ever had to do was to let my babies go. When they were born, I wanted to look after them constantly and make sure that they never got hurt. The problem with that is that I ended up grumpy because I didn’t get enough time for myself, and they weren’t developing the skills they needed to be independent. I had good intentions, but they end result sucked for both of us.

I’m still working on learning how to edit. I’ve made revisions before to some of my short stories, and I’ve started editing one or two of my novels, but I have to admit that I gave up after a couple of weeks. The problem that I have with editing the longer works is that I feel that I need to tear the whole thing apart and figure out what the story is before I can make it better. Most of my novels were done as discovery writing. What that means is that I started either without an outline, or with only a partial outline. I discovered my characters and my stories as I wrote. That can lead to all sorts of fun things, but in the end, most of it sucks.

So one of these days I’m going to run my stories through a shredder and see if I can’t piece them back together into something worthwhile, or simply toss the bag into the rubbish and work on something worthwhile. That’s why I have given copies of my January stories to my critique group. Not so they can give me tips on editing them, but to simply let me know if they are worth the effort. Otherwise, they will be used for kindling on my next camping trip.

Those are my thoughts on writing for the day. The year is swiftly passing and the Dirty Little Freaks are continuing to spew out of my head and onto the page. Sometimes I wonder how I can be a functioning member of society with the dark and dreadful things that come out when I write. But I suppose it’s as Shrek says, “Better out than in!”

I’ll be back on Wednesday for another update. See you then!

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3 Comments

Filed under About Me, The Writing Experience

3 responses to “Kill Your Darlings

  1. gregg

    yeh kill your darlins, then screw up your endings Thanks for that Mr King!

    have you read Under the dome?

    • Yes I did. I’m guessing you didn’t like it much. Can you be more specific about what you thought was wrong? I thought it was pretty good, although a bit long.

      • gregg

        hi, i loved the concept- it got me hooked from the start. but when you put your time into a book that big , you want an ending fit for the journey…and that was not. i love hs stuff, but sometimes its just so WTF!

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