Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In Memorium: Killing Our Darlings



We all have to do it, one time or another.

Maybe it's a character we loved. Or a subplot that didn't work out.

Perhaps it was that 50 pages of backstory that needed to get cut. (*Lydia raises hand*)

Or an incredibly well-written scene that just didn't need to be.

It could have even just been a great word. (Oh! Farewell transmogrification! Sniff.)

Today, we'll wipe a tear and lay to rest those bits of creativity that didn't get past the editing chopping block.

What have you been sad to say good-bye to?


Remember to take a minute to check out this week's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog post by Zoe Courtman on writerly habits! And check out previous posts by Laura Diamond, Danyelle Leafty, and myself!

47 comments:

patti said...

This is SO TRUE now that it's IRRITATING ME, just looking at your title!

Why, the Kregel editor had the NERVE to delete this Thai cultural aspect that I'd researched for AGES (on a character that has a one-page impact on the story)

Hmmm. How dare she?
Hmmm. Saving the reader, perhaps???

LOL.

I have my first author guest today. If you have time to drop by, would LOVE IT!
Nope. Just reviewed your About Me. Probably not if you have time.

Blessings,
Patti

Erinn said...

I finally cut a scene out of this draft I loved because while I thought it was funny, no one else did. Sigh.

It hurts, it really does. But at least you know your novel is stronger for it.

KatieO said...

Great post, and a subject that hits so close to home. I've been rewriting my middle-grade novel, taking out all the scenes that are (gasp) from the adult bad guy's POV... some of them can't be rewritten and just fall to the chopping room floor of cyberspace. It hurts, but it's necessary.

Candyland said...

Funny enough, I had an agent recently tell me there wasn't-get this- ENOUGH backstory...umm..yeah.
I've had to say goodbye to a lot lately...I'me over goodbyes!

Vicki Rocho said...

I've already cut & replace so much...but so far the only thing sad about it is the hours it represented. So far I haven't been attached to much of it.

Laura Eno said...

I was 30,000 words into a WIP when I decided my MC was a doormat. I still haven't picked that one up to fix her.

KarenG said...

This topic makes me think more of editing others than my own. Maybe I've got no ego left? I don't know, but the editing process with the work of others can be even harder because YOU are the ones killing their darlings.

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, sometimes when you write in rhyme, you have to cut a really fun stanza with great language!

Recently had to cut one of my faves.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Well Lydia..I have said goodbye to quite a bit of the second chapter of my WIP. I do feel bad about this, but deep down I know that its for the good of my book.

Jaydee Morgan said...

Losing characters - I can handle. Losing a block of text that I love (but doesn't work) is much harder for me.

Bee said...

There were a lot of dead characters in my urban fantasy. And...*WAILS*

For my current contemporary, I just can't do it. Dead characters have been dead prior to the writing of the book, so...that's all the death I can deal with.

Matthew Rush said...

50 pages ... is that all?

Matt said...

I'm closing in on the end of my first draft and I have a couple of darlings that have just been asking for it since the beginning!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I had a really cute comedic scene that I had to say good-bye to because it served no real purpose besides making myslef laugh. *sniff sniff*

Crimey said...

In the first draft of my current novel, I had about 110k, and I had to kill off 20k of that because it was either backstory or unimportant to the plot or character development. It really hurt to cut it but I knew it was for the best.

Abby said...

Once I composed this really really cool and profound quote. It didn't work in the context of the essay, so I had to snip it. I still have it saved somewhere, though.

LReneeS said...

I have had many times where I came up with dialog for my story and then had to cut out parts of it. I hate doing this, but as you said sometimes we have to say goodbye to these things.
Also, I have gotten rid of characters in books... I hate when it's a really good character but you know that it is there time to leave the story and be on their own path.
Happy writing,
LReneeS

aspiring_x said...

i didn't have 50 pages of backstory... more like 35... ummm. yeah.

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Ah, yeah. I had what I thought was an intense scene. Loved it. Which told me that it needed to go. Because it didn't serve the story. Ack!!

storyqueen said...

Usually, when I have to kill something....it's a direction a story took...the Wrong Direction.

Sometimes I have to kill an entire draft (if it's a picturebook).

Thank goodness I have a lightsaber.

Shelley

WindyA said...

I hate having to cut anything! I love my subplots, even if they confuse. I love my extra characters, even if they're not needed. And I love all my dialog, even if it's just unnecessary fluff.

Brenda Drake said...

I'm looking at killing off two scenes that only build character. I know I should weave the characterization within action, but I love the banter too much to lose it. But to keep from slowing the story, I will kill those scenes and then break out a bottle of wine later tonight and mourn them.

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: What have you been sad to say good-bye to?

I really, REALLY miss having good knees. LOL.

I'm far less sentimental about my words. If they were good, they'll find a home somewhere else in the future.

--signed, gimpy

Carol Kilgore said...

I've cut lots of fun banter. On next draft I have to cut much of pages 20-100, tighten what's left, and add a boatload of suspense and questions. Wanna trade places?

Jennifer Walkup said...

I am in this process now. It's so hard!!!

Jemi Fraser said...

I once had to cut a prologue and about 20 pages from the beginning of an ms. I was SO hard - but it had to be done. :)

Jolene said...

I forget where I was now but this guy was saying that how on his first draft, nearly every time a line makes him smile, it's one that ends up getting the delete button later because even though he loved it, it doesn't work in the finished product.
I switched POVs in my first book. I loved it but it just didn't flow right. I took it out. It was really hard.

Mayowa said...

This is always really tough for me...especially at the sentence level. I get carried away with metaphors and I absolutely detest culling my favorites...oh well.

Great post as always.

Giles Hash said...

I cut out complete plots, characters, and "life-altering" scenes from the first novel I finished. I haven't really had to do that with my second one, yet.

I actually threw out entire chapters of my very first attempt at a book...until I cut it from 50k down to 20k. Yeah...it sucked. And I stopped writing it to go back to school.

Stephanie Thornton said...

It hurts to kill my darlings, but sometimes I like knowing I'm cutting something that needs to go. I actually just resurrected a scene from the pyramids I cut almost a year ago. It's totally rewritten, but I kept a few of the original descriptions I really liked.

LReneeS said...

I'm glad you liked the picture; I just happened to find it and I was like, "Aw, it's so adorable with the bear!"

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've eliminated some good dialogue. Fortunately, the replacement was better.

Dawn Simon said...

I always enjoy your blog! :)

I've had to kill plenty of darlings. Sometimes if it's a great line, I can fit it into a new spot. But sometimes...sniff...it just has to die. I keep a file labeled snippets for my killed darlings. It makes cutting them less scary.

Melissa said...

I wrote a scene and my one character... he just took over and his short scene ended up spanning a chapter. I love it, SO MUCH. But...it's really unnecessary and I'm afraid it'll have to die. (Somebody throw me a life preserver please!)

Terri Tiffany said...

One whole beautiful chapter. But it was useless and like a detour in the story. Wahh.

Krispy said...

I hate it when I have to kill an exchange of snappy dialogue. It's hard to come up with snappy dialogue! Too bad it doesn't always serve the story. :(

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Sniff. I share your pain. I said goodbye to an entire two chapters, a subplot and the original ending. I'm still sad, even if the story is better for it.

Heather said...

I've not only had to murder one of my darlings but disect it and study it as well. Now I have to play Dr. Frankenstein and rebuild it later this year in a massive rewrite. Oddly, I'm looking forward to it.

Mohamed Mughal said...

Remember, those darlings are never completely dead. Someway, somehow, sometime in the near or distant future, they could see a second (or third) incarnation in yet another future WIP.

Samantha Bennett said...

Oh the beautiful darlings we kill. For me? It was practically the first half of my manuscript!

Phoenix said...

I, uh, I mean a FRIEND, tend to get super wordy with dialogue. I mean, I write like I talk, and I talk a lot (you may have noticed that my blogs are very long-winded) so when I handed over my script, er, I mean, when my FRIEND handed over her script to some other friends... and half the dialogue in the entire movie was slashed through with a "stop talking so much" note written repeatedly...

Yeah. That hurt. Dialogue is my darling. Silence is my enemy.

Guess which one works so much better on film?

ARGGGHHHH.

Vatche said...

I often can't let go of a story. I can't just say goodbye, because I've been with my characters on the adventure for so long that it's hard for me to let go and start again, to start with a whole new story and a new cast of characters.

It's always hard for me. This cycle only continues, because it's always hard letting go.

Write on and try to let go!

RoseBelle said...

I'm no writer but I do love to read. I really lack imagination and creativity to write. I leave you to those who are gifted with these talents. must say, I hate it when beloved characters get killed in
hows or novels.

I'm your newest follower!

The Words Crafter said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by! My husband had a good time playing with the snake until he realized it was very poisonous! Needless to say, his slithery little soul is in heaven, or something like it....?

Read this post and thought of all the backstory I had to cut....sigh.

VICTORIA SAAVEDRA said...

Very true! Great post. Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

Heather Taylor said...

Oh I've killed off one of my favorite characters and it was incredibly depressing, even though I knew it had to be done. I feel your pain :)

jules said...

I have never been sad to say goodbye to one of my own personal scenes (yet!) but on a related note, I frequently "miss" Scarlett O'Hara and wonder what she is up to.

 
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