Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kill Your Darlings, or Maybe Just Lock Them in the Basement


Even though I'm in the early stages of second draft revisions, I’m already slicing through the manuscript with a word machete.The second draft for me is usually nailing down characters and getting the plot points decided on, expanded, and rewritten. But it’s a lot of that old adage, KILL YOUR DARLINGS, too. As all writers know, it’s a difficult thing but of course a necessary evil.

So far I’ve gotten rid of one secondary character by combining him with another as they both served the same purpose, I’m killing at least one minor subplot, and I’m changing some major details about my main character and his situation. The parts that are changing aren’t what’s hard, because those things are making the story better (I hope!). But deleting whole scenes that I maybe sort of like, at least in part, can be tough even when I know they aren't working and have to go.

Rather than completely killing my darlings, I open a new file of “CUT SCENES/LINES.” I paste the discarded parts of my draft in there, just in case I need them later and just in case I'm not ready for them to completely die. It’s something I’ve done for all my books, and I don’t think I’ve ever opened any of those files to revisit or reuse those scenes. But there is something soothing about keeping them around, even if just in theory.

So, yes, get rid of your darlings, don’t let them stay in the novel when they aren’t working, but maybe just lock them in the basement or dungeon and not murder them completely.

Happy writing, friends!

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