Monthly Archives: December 2011

Murder Your Darlings

I love to read books on writing by writers. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Stephen King’s On Writing.

Anne Lamott talks about the “Shitty First Draft.” It is she who got me through the first blathery draft of my manuscript, now ready to be gone over and reorganized into something that can go to the copy editor.

Stephen King, when talking about that very process of self-editing one’s shitty first draft into an actual piece of writing, tells us “you must murder your darlings.” (Leave it to King to find such a picturesque way to put it.) No matter how much you like a particular sentence or paragraph or image, if it doesn’t serve the larger work, out it goes. Kill it. Murder your darlings.

I just cut my favorite 3 pages of the introduction, because it works better without them.  I hate it, but it had to be done.

Sigh.

[UPDATE: My editor has since asked me to put them back, because he liked them too. So there.  At least this darling gets to survive…]