Killing Your Darlings

You know those scenes that you LOOOOOOOVE, but you feel like you can’t cut?

You know the ones.

They’re the scenes that turn you into a frothing angry velociraptor when someone suggests you might cut them. The scenes your beta-readers keep mentioning might not be necessary, and you’ve pretty much lost all faith in your beta readers because … THEY JUST DON’T GET YOUR VISION!

You know the scenes I’m talking about now, right? These are your darlings.

If you’re a writer you’ve probably heard the phrase “killing your darlings.” It’s a term meant to point out how hard it really is to cut the sections of your novel that feel like they’re infused with the mother F-ing lifeblood of your book.

Only … you can cut them.

In fact, your rabid attachment to these scenes should be a red-flag that maybe they exist for you rather than the story. Of course, I’m not saying that all of your favorite scenes should be cut from your book. Let’s not mince my words. All I’m suggesting is that it may be time to take a good honest look at what is best for your characters and the reader.

Killing your darlings hurts! Trust me, I know. I’ve taken full novels and thrown them in the trash and started all over again. Often, for the better. But before you start lighting your manuscript on fire (in a bad way), let’s take a moment to unpack why we’re so attached to our darlings in the first place. What’s going on with us – as authors – that makes us believe our darlings are so precious they simply MUST be in the final book?

Why is hurts so much to kill your darlings is the subject of this week’s video. My intention isn’t to turn you into a ruthless manuscript murderer, slashing away all your prize prose. What I want us to do is think about the process of writing and how our experience of drafting a scene can endow that portion of our novel with emotional meaning for us authors. Only that emotional punch, isn’t always on the page, nor is it the same experience the reader is having. That attachment can often cloud our vision and weaken the stories we set out to tell. Of course, knowledge is power, so once we know why we’re so dang attached to a scene, then we can start to separate our ego from the writing. Then we can make an informed clear-minded decision about what scenes should stay, and what scenes should get sent to the guillotine.

Please enjoy this week’s video:

Do you struggle with killing your darlings? Do you get too attached to your work? Share your struggles in the comments, as well as any breakthroughs you’ve discovered to overcome them.

Happy writing everyone!

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