Killing my Darlings

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Having written my way toward the end of the Seville novel (transformed, over time, into a young adult novel), I yesterday returned to the adult novel that has been stewing in its own juices these past many weeks. A brilliant friend had read it through. She had suggested that I take a particular look at how some chapters ended (had crispness been achieved, and suspense?) and at a few stretches that might, she seemed to say, benefit from a certain economizing.

Might I, in other words, kill more of my own darlings?

But, oh gosh: Haven't I just been through that? Didn't I just throw some 500 pages of Seville away?

Then again: Don't I want to write my best book?

I wanted to use that phrase today, in this blog—killing my darlings—so I thought I better look it up. It was F. Scott, right? who said it first. Or was it Faulkner? I was pretty sure it was one or the other, but if this interesting post over at MindTweaks has it right, the phrase likely comes from one Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch:

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate
a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it
— whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending
your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

I equip myself not with a pen today, then.

I equip myself with a sword.


poetjanes said...

Good luck with your revisions!

Unknown said...

Murder and mayhem...sounds like an exciting day. :)

Lenore Appelhans said...

I have to kill some of my darlings in one of my pb manuscripts too. But I will keep the first version because I LOVE it. It's too adult though.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to sweep away such beautiful words, but you'll have a much stronger book for it. Good luck...

Teagan Oliver

Sherrie Petersen said...

I am looking forward to reading this one, especially because of the Spain connection. I hope you didn't have to do too much killing... ;)

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