Sunday, May 27, 2012

Kill Your Darlings

We've all heard the phrase, kill your darlings.
But we also all know how hard it is to do that.
Why delete the most beautiful piece from our work?

I'm working closer and closer to wrapping up my novel and in order to clean it all up, I've got to kill my darlings.
I'm not attached to EVERY little section in my novel.
I know that not all of it is super brilliant.
But there are a few scenes and sections that I wrote toward the beginning of this novel journey that
1. are lovely and brilliant and have just the right pace and rhythm
2. need to go

The reason these lovelies need to go is because they
1. don't move my story forward
2. are redundant
3. say the same thing that other, better scenes I repeating myself?

I've found that a lot of my writing especially in the beginning (but also throughout the novel as I'm still getting to know characters and such) is my learning process. I write the story to get it out, to discover my characters traits/personalities/goals/motivations, and all that good stuff. But, when it comes down to it, those pieces or scenes are just for me as the writer. They give me information or a feel for what the emotions are in a given setting, but they're not as clean, tight, or moving as the story needs in a scene.

So, here is an example of one of my darlings that I've had to kill off. This section is what told me--the writer--what Sophie's story was in the first place. This was a hard scene to write, but not as hard as some of the others have been since I've known that these were her secrets.

I told her it was time to get rid of Lloyd.
He was smelly and lazy and angry when he drank too much.
She didn’t do it though.
All she needed to do was tell him to get out.
Just break up with him and send him packing.
But she wouldn’t do it.
She was too scared.
He stayed.
He kept eating all the food.
He kept hitting her.
He kept drinking.
He kept climbing into my bed at night when he thought I was asleep.
And he kept putting his hands and his face in places even I don’t touch.
If she had kicked him out when I told her to.
If she had just listened to me.
If she had broken up with him
Then I wouldn’t be here.
And she wouldn’t be there. 

I love most of the words in this scene. I love the rhythm. The repetition. And especially that one line. I love what this scene is doing. How it shows you exactly what Lloyd is, exactly what the conflict is, exactly how Sophie feels. But I know that this as a whole does not belong in my story. Because I'm trying to make a novel, not a one-scene story.  This section was for me. Not you.

Sorry to all of you who want to read my story... SPOILERS!
oops. I think I always say that way too late... :)

Write on!


  1. I like that scene too. Very well done. And, it's funny. I wonder how much of the stuff that doesn't make the final cut of the novel was really just for the author.

    1. (That's such an amazing insight by the way. You rock, Bud!)