Thursday, May 17, 2012

Killing my darlings

Confession: There's a 'darling' in my story and it needs to go. 

I had this idea on my way into work this morning but I'm torn. I mean, yes, I'm happy that I have a new idea to explore. But on the other hand, I thought this section was solid. I was happy with it and now here I am, tinkering.

Part of me says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

But the louder part of me says, "It wasn't a waste of time. You needed that first idea to get to this even shinier one." Or something like that. 

I have loved the first line of my story ever since it popped into my head. I remember that proud smile and the inner voice assuring me even though OTHER authors are encouraged to avoid this tactic, that it would be okay for me to try it because I'm "special". 

I would like to introduce you all to the first line of my darling. I shall name it Original Opening Line.
"At precisely 6:38 in the morning, before the lingering night officially gave way to the eager day, David Fitzwilliam Fitzgerald awoke with a start and knew he and his mom were in danger."
I know, I know. Try not to steal my awesome run-on sentence prose. Or my catchy opening line that starts with my MC waking up. It's all so original, I know you want it. Who wouldn't? That there is literary gold!

Okay, all jokes aside, I'm killing it. Now. Today. I'm making this public announcement so I will have no option but to actually follow through.

And by killing it, I'm dropping the needle on this record in a different place. I have to start somewhere else, someplace where I can quickly show the relationship between my MC and his quirky mom.

I just can't help but feel bad. Like I've wasted time: my time redoing the section, my friends' time reading the section, time time time... Alas, I have a new scene to write and that is much more exciting than sitting around quasi-idle.

Off to the writing cave I go!

How about you: Have you killed your darlings? Did you make something better as a result?


  1. Yes, I have killed my darlings and yes, it always made the manuscript better. It was a really hard decision, but I'm so glad I did it.

  2. I don't think it's ever a waste of time to explore your options with a story. It's just writing after all. Try it, and if you like it, keep it. If not, change it. Not much help, I know, but I'm here for moral support. :))

  3. It's like a lump of clay. You have to form it into something, anything, first before you can really decide what to do with it.

  4. Be BOLD! :-) And as a non-writer, I won't comment whatsoever on what killing a darling even means...LOL

    But I say it never hurts to go in a different direction if that's what your heart is telling you. :-) Write on, Tricia!

  5. I don't think it's a waste of time. Do it and if you don't like it un-do it. I wish I had the skill to get everything 100% on the first try!

  6. I kill my darlings. Don't worry. Sometimes it's painful, but it's never a waste. Like Alex said, you have to create something first in order to then improve it and make it really shine!

  7. Am I the only sadist who enjoys killing her darlings? Or it it masochist? All I know is that if it hurts, you're doing it right!

    And the story is always better for it.
    (But just in case it's not, save an earlier draft. It's easy to kill your darlings when you can resurrect them again in seconds.)

  8. One of my biggest pet peeves is the story that starts with waking up. And dreaming. I just want to stalk these openings and stab them to death with a very large kitchen knife. Between the eyes. *stabstab*

    So my bias is to jump into the air and applaud your decision. MURDER THAT DARLING TO DEATH.

    The writer in me feels your pain. Right to my toes. We've all had this moment and it sucks. We write half a book with a character we know isn't that interesting. We write a great scene that doesn't push the plot. We linger and hover and know it'll have to go eventually, but it's so freaking hard on our hearts. No one understands but other writers.

    Good luck. You're going to be just fine :-)

  9. Sounds like a good plan. It's hard to care if someone's in danger if you don't know them yet. And cool name!

  10. I'v definitely killed darlings before. BUT! Here's the good news. It doesn't have to be permanent. You can always go back to the original opening. I don't think you will because 9 times out of 10 the new thing is better, but still. There you have it!
    And woo hoo on making forward progess with the revisions!!

  11. Good luck! It always turns out to be worth it, no matter how painful it is to do :)


I love getting comments. They're as much fun as getting real snail mail. So please, chime in and tell me what you think!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...