Don’t worry. This blog post won’t be as violent as the title suggests. It’s only metaphorical murder that I speak of.
There’s a saying most writers have heard, possibly coined by Stephen King, though I think he was actually quoting William Faulkner.
Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings.
I don’t know if that’s the original phrasing, or not, but the meaning remains the same.
As writers, we tend to get attached to particular characters, chapters, paragraphs. Perhaps, a specific turn of phrase catches our fancy, or makes us feel clever.
All of these things, all of these parts of our stories, are parts of us. They’re things that we created, things we literally pulled out of thin air, and, somehow, shaped so that meaning and images and thoughts and worlds and entire people can be put into the minds of others in the way that we imagined them.
It’s a powerful thing.
As such, there is the potential for fixation. This lends itself to the thought that any one thing, if removed from the manuscript, could drastically, and catastrophically, impact the overall story.
So, we hoard our creations, holding fast against the eroding tide of editing.
We get stingy, whether unwittingly or by stoutly refusing to adapt depends on the person. Which, in the end, proves far more detrimental to our writing than the changes we resist.
It keeps us from seeing our flaws. It holds us back from seeing the entirety of the world we’ve created, because this one particular phrase needs defended with every single scrap of attention we can spare.
And, sometimes, changing a manuscript is just downright scary.
Now, as you all know if you’ve been following my blog, I’m in the process of rewriting one of my WIPs (works in progress). It had problems. Plot holes large enough to swallow a double decker bus. Forced romance where it shouldn’t have been. Jarring cut-off points.
In the process of rewriting this week…I had to cut an entire chapter.
That chapter provided a nice bit of humor and a touch of background information for a character that was rather central. It also introduced other characters, which did nothing but hinder the plot. They play no pivotal role, and quickly became loose ends that I would have had to scramble to tie up at the end.
Not to mention…The character whose background we were gaining…has been downgraded.
So, a brief conversation was added later to cover all the vital information, and the entire chapter was killed.
I saved it in another document, so it’s more like it’s been…locked in a far far far away tower, never to see the light of day. Lol.
In it’s place, there is a much better chapter which highlights a character whose role has been elevated significantly.
And I love the new chapter. Far more than the original.
So, my point is, for all the writers reading this, writing is a mess. Embrace that. Kill your darlings, when you need to. Save them in a separate document, just in case the original was better than the new version, but often times…you won’t need that backup, won’t want it.
For all the readers reading this, writing is a mess. Embrace the polished works wrapped up in gorgeous covers with bows and shiny bookmarks for your pleasure. Because it’s a long road, getting the story to you in a nice, cohesive, easily comprehended, pretty package.
Love them, as we writers have loved them.
We pour our souls into our books. Our time, our thoughts, our tears (yes, seriously, I cry when I write sad scenes), our joy (sometimes to the point where our fingers move too quickly over the keyboard, producing gibberish, as we rush forward, too excited to slow down), our hearts…It all goes in.
One way or another, bits of ourselves find their way into our books. Whether we intend it or not.
We just have to pick and choose which parts to send forward to the readers.
Sometimes, we have to kill our darlings.
But we end up so much better off.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough. Thank you all for coming, for taking the time out of your day to read what I’ve had to say. Thank you for reading my books, if you have. If not, they’re here, on my website. *shameless plug*
Aaaaanywhoo…lol. (Don’t worry, I won’t do that again.)
Keep reading. Keep writing.