“[K]ill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” – Stephen King
It sucks. You reread your novel, that took you months/years to write. You get to this line/scene/chapter/character you love and you still love it. It’s something you couldn’t have written this well if you tried… Except it doesn’t fit. It’s not progressing the plot. It serves no purpose. The character is melding with another.
So you have to do it. You have to take your Red Inked Vorpal Sword and slice it through. (Or, since we have computers, cut and paste it to a Darlings Document that you can visit to pay sympathies to. Like a little row of writing gravestones.)
And it hurts. Because that was a part of you, for a short amount of time. Not forever, not eternal, but your thoughts and hopes that you spat out on paper. That you may have perfected through drafts. And now you’ve determined that piece of you is no longer important.
But maybe instead of thinking of it like garbage words, let’s think of it as a vestigial organ. These darlings are our appendix (or multiple parts of one giant appendix). They served a purpose once: they helped us get our first draft down and explore our world. They were characters that brought out parts of our main characters to help us develop them more. They were words and phrases that we can look back on later and perhaps repurpose into something new – like an awesome experiment discovering penicillin from mold.
Two things could happen if we leave this appendix in. We (our novel) could survive. There’s a chance it’ll just look a little strange but it’s not going to do any harm. One or two bacteria may be trapped there (one or two things that could be cut) but they’re not causing destruction. Some people (betas) might comment on it, and some doctors (editors) may suggest just removing it during your next surgery (draft), but it’s not dire.
However, the problem arises when this appendix swells with inflammation and becomes this festering organ housing thousands of bacteria. It runs the risk of bursting and infecting your whole blood supply (your novel). To save it requires some major surgery. Sometimes it’s too far gone, unable to be saved.
So, what’s better? Leave in a darling appendix that may burst? Or take these problematic things, cut them, and create a graveyard where you can visit and leave flowers in thanks to darlings past?
Pen refills: 0 (but getting there)
Scenes sliced: 3
Darlings killed: 1
Current Concern: Halden’s entrance is so boring. The fight is interesting but the way he just appears needs an overhaul.