Friday, January 26, 2007

Kill Your Darlings!!

"You must kill your darlings."

I read that line somewhere, I think Hemingway wrote it once upon a time. I think it's a great line. Here we got a majority of your editing worries pretty much summed up. You must kill your darlings. For me, this is really hard to do since I can't really see which darlings I need to kill. We're talking about writing by the way, just in case you were flailing in the wind there for a second or two.

I guess you could say I'm too much in love with what I wrote down that I don't see anything wrong with the story except for the glaring spelling errors. Tunnel vision. I see only what I want to see and move on. Since I started my blog and thanks to friends like Stewart Sternberg and Chuck Zaglanis, Susan Miller and Christina Rundle (and of course everyone else out there who leave comments)my sight has been growing wider and wider. Sooner or later I'll see the whole picture, and wouldn't that be grand? Yes. It would be totally kickin!! Okay that was dumb. Moving on...

Proof readers come in real handy here. Chances are one of them are most likely going to find the errors you missed. But even with proof readers one must be wary of grammar and structure and making sure you've got the right word where it belongs.

So you've found something that really doesn't contribute to the story you're trying to write. A word, a sentence, even an entire paragraph, whatever, it's just not working. If it doesn't and you or your proof readers see it, then toss it. Rework it. Kill you darlings...and gain control of your writing.

8 comments:

Susan Miller said...

Yeah, after I write something, pour over it for days it seems then I can't even see it anymore. That's why I appreciate this blogging situation where other people (and yes, I am very fortunate to have the fellow bloggers that I do) can take a look at it.

My hope is that as time moves in I will not only gain skills but also the confidence.

Keep writing, Lucas.

Chuck Zaglanis said...

Great advice Lucas. Too many writers view their work as sacrosanct. If I ever hear "With all these changes, it's no longer mine" come out of another would-be writer's mouth, it'll be too soon.

Danny Tagalog said...

That's a good one: Kill Your Darlings - easy mantra to remember. Cheers!

Lucas Pederson said...

Thanks Susan, Chuck and Danny!
Susan, I feel your pain, and I too am lucky too have the fellow bloggers I have now. It's great.
Chuck, I'm not one of those, as you know, I need all the help I can get. And I'll take all the advice and critisim I can squeeze out as well. How else is a writer going to know what doesn't really work and what does? 2nd, third, even fourth opinions are better than just one, namely your own.
Danny, thanks for the kudos. I read said mantra somewhere, but I forget where. I wrote it in big block letters on a sheet of paper and tacked to the wall beside my computer. So when I'm revising something it reminds me to stop coddling and kill them darlings before they fester. Although It's still hard to do so, for me at least.

Christina Rundle said...

My darlings change every year. For a while I was in love with on structure, then I became in love with a phrase. I think this year it's "heart dropped," I use that line a lot when I'm talking about how a person feels. I am going to go back and edit that out of my novel completely. Well I might leave it in a sentence or two. Maybe.

Lucas Pederson said...

Christina, I think once is enough. The rest I'd poop can. Yes I said poop.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Kill your darlings, for the sweetness of that intimacy brings the thrill of the threshold. Kill your darlings, hold them in a dark embrace and listen to the quiet that comes with midnight.

Lucas Pederson said...

Wow Stewart, words to live by. Thanks for that. And it's so true. So true indeed.