It was (probably) William Faulkner that said “In writing, you must kill your darlings.”
Since then it has become an expression meaning not to hold on to things in your writing for sentimental reasons, reasons that have nothing to do with creating the best story you can craft with your words.
This week in my editing process, I got up to what I call the Kill Your Darlings phase. It’s when I read through and edit my book while taking no prisoners, impartially crossing out with my big red pen all that can be pulled to streamline the story as best I can. IT’S TOUGH!!! I’m a killer, a killer of some darling lines and paragraphs that had to go.
So why not just keep them in if they’re so darling? Because we all like to expound on the things we like best. But that doesn’t make the best story, as a matter of fact, it can detract from the story you’re trying to tell. In this book I’m working on, it was pairing down on the multitude of emails and texts that predominate the first half of my book. It’s just too much to expect a reader to patiently wade through. I needed to just get down to the basics of the story, just enough to allow the reader to understand how the relationship develops, but not enough to beat a dead horse.
So do you have a point in your writing/editing process where you purposefully seek out that which needs to be killed?