Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Killing your darlings

Another piece of advice to writers that I have a little trouble with.

Do you really know what you're doing?
I think originally it was intended to apply to what might be called 'flowery' writing and I understand that long descriptions and repeated phrases are something that a writer needs to avoid. But I've also heard the phrase offered in a way that seems to imply that if there is anything in your writing that you feel particularly pleased with, then it is bound to be rubbish and you should delete it immediately.

All writers have black moments. Writing a coherent story is not easy. The book on the page is never the perfect book that existed in your mind before you started to write it. And it's easy to think that the whole thing is c**p when you are maybe one third in and are really having to work to keep the plot straight, and the characters motivated and when the reason for keeping the hero and heroine apart, which seemed to be so substantial at the beginning, now seems wafer thin. Like I said, hard work. And moments of doubt happen, but it usually all comes right in the end.

I'm wondering if a better way of looking at that 'darlings' phrase is not that you must let things go, but that you can be ready to let them go.

I'm currently playing around with a new novella in a lighter vein than my romantic suspense. I'm doing it for fun, and maybe something will come of it. It was meant to be a simple plot, revolving around a wedding.

Simple? Can I do simple? Hah!

And, of course, it has got me in a pickle. Happily steaming along, I realised that a fairly memorable encounter between the hero and villain in the first few pages meant that they were not going to be meeting as strangers later in the book - at least, not unless I did some serious sorting out. So I had a choice. Get rid of the first encounter, or change the plot. Now that was killing a darling, if you like.  I've changed the plot. Even so, I'm going to have to trust on the readers' goodwill and a bit of suspension of disbelief along the line, but the whole thing is pretty preposterous anyway and doesn't stand up to close scrutiny, so here's hoping.

Of course, if I decide that it is only for fun, and will not get anywhere near a reader, then it won't actually matter.

It's keeping me amused.


  1. Looking forward to reading it - changes or not!
    Angela Britnell

    1. Hi Angela - it might be a while - but I'm enjoying it - when not getting totally tangled up!