science fiction and fantasy writer

Killing Your Darlings

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2014 at 9:25 am

(guest post on the CSFG blog)

I think a lot of people come at this notion the wrong way – that, in writing, you must kill your darlings. A friend in my writers’ group was talking one day about his long-term novel project in these terms – that he needed to kill this exasperating, enervating darling of his and move on to other things. The rest of us stared at him, aghast. “No!” I cried. “You never kill a story! You just lock it in a trunk like Boxing Helena, then go back and open the lid every few months to see if it’s still alive and willing to be compliant now. Or, if not, whether you can harvest its body parts for something else.”

At the opposite extreme, there are apparently writers who take this as an instruction to violently attack their own prose to eliminate any literary flourishes and who conflate it with the contemporary fashion of expunging all adverbs, adjectives and said bookisms from the English language. (“Every adjective is a parasite sucking the life from a sentence,” is how I’ve heard one proponent of that fad express it.)

Read more…

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