Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Killing Your Darlings

I've heard many times that you have to be willing to kill your darlings. You have to be willing to take things out of your story that aren't working, even if you really, really like them.

Today I found out how much that hurts.

For six drafts of my manuscript I hung onto a certain subplot, even though I knew from the beginning it probably wasn't going to work. I finally had to let it go. It was messing up my pacing, cost over ten thousand words, and really wasn't necessary to the story.

But as I watched all that gorgeous prose lie there, cut off from the rest of the manuscript, writhing and bleeding syllables as it slowly died, I realized it had been the most beautifully written part of the book.  I cared about it more than I cared about any other part of the book, and so I had poured my love into every word.

Can I learn to love the rest of the book as much as I loved that part I had to kill?

Give me a few days to grieve, and then I'm on it.

What's the hardest story decision you've had to make?


  1. Rebecca, I'm so sorry! I've always hated that phrase, but it's so fitting, because that's what it feels like. But the end product will be worth it, and then you'll see that you didn't kill your baby at all, just gave it a shot, made it eat chicken soup, and then made it into something you'll be proud of the rest of your life!

  2. Thanks for the sympathy, Jonene. It was like lopping off a huge tree limb that was growing in the wrong direction. It's left quite a scar, but it'll heal over and the tree will be stronger and more balanced. I'm already getting excited for next draft.

  3. You, my friend, are going to make every other part of your book sing. Never fear, the love will come. :)

    The hardest thing for me was to junk everything and start over. But it was a good thing. :) Even though it hurt like someone had just separated my skin from my body one connecting tissue at a time.

  4. Thanks, Leisha.

    I can't believe the pain I'm in, even though I know it was the right decision - but maybe I can use it as reference next time one of my characters suffers a major disappointment.


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