Sunday, December 22, 2013

Murder Your Darlings

I first heard this phrase when I was reading On Writing by Stephen King.
"Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings."
-Stephen King, On Writing 
At first the advice didn't make much sense to me. Why would I want to kill the best parts of my story? But I think I finally understand.

Last month I was about 30,000 words into my first draft of TGITP (aka the book I'm currently working on), when I realized that about 20,000 words in the middle didn't need to be there. Now, don't get me wrong, I needed to write them. They showed me where my main character needed to end up, and they taught me a lot about the world she's living in. However, they didn't add to the overall story. It was tough, but I ended up cutting them and finding a much better, much quicker way to get her from the inciting incident to where the story really begins.

And now I think I understand what it means to murder your darlings. I certainly had darlings in those 20,000 words. In fact, I had two very real darlings who were characters that I axed, as well as a few plot points I was excited about. To me, murdering your darlings doesn't mean killing off the best parts of your story, it means killing off the parts that, although you may love, don't add to the story you really need to be telling at that moment.

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