Tuesday, June 5, 2018

How About NOT Killing Your Darlings?

Kill your darlings.”
William Faulkner paraphrasing Arthur Quiller-Couch’s ON THE ART OF WRITING, 1914

It’s a jaunty saying that has resonance, so it stuck. In writerly lingo this means that, upon revising, a writer should consider how her favorite lines/paragraphs may be a product of vanity and do not serve the story.

Okay. Sometimes it’s the case.

But good writers are made of very good readers, and very good readers who like a turn of phrase or an aside that’s clever/different/intriguing, are usually right on.

The cliché knee-jerk notion is now the very saying to “kill your darlings.”

Here’ a novel idea— let your darlings be. They are there for a reason. Your judgement is sound, and without trusting in your judgment, you’ve got bupkis. That’s another (now cliché) saying that means your writer’s soul is bankrupt.

Love your darlings, sweetheart, and let them live.


Vijaya said...

Bupkis is a great word. I agree, there are some darlings you should keep.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I love that word — Bupkis. And, while you say it's cliche, I've never read it or heard it anywhere. I also agree that some darlings you have to keep — leaving them out would change the whole tone of a scene or character. I do think some can go, and I have read passages where the writer seemed more in love with their words than their own story. But that hasn't happened in my reading very often. You made a good point indeed.

Crystal Collier said...

There are definitely times to chop scenes though in the name of story. That doesn't mean they can't come back in a promotional short story.

Barbara Etlin said...

I totally agree!

A sentence in one of my MG novels contained many big words (but it was humorous dialogue that showed character.) I remember thinking that I would draw the line at deleting it. No one ever objected to it. I worried for nothing.