Monday, August 29, 2011

Kill Those Darlings!

It has taken a lot of thought, but I decided to change an element of my WIP.

I know it doesn't sound like a big deal. I'm revising. Things change in revision. That's the point. Chapters get cut. Entire characters get wiped out of existence. I know this.

But this...this thing I'm changing. It was the THING that inspired my story. The very heart of it. And that's not so easy to just let go.

I've known for awhile that it wasn't really working. While it was the thing that launched the story, the story has evolved so much since then. It's been through one major rewrite. Plot elements galore have been added. My main character has REALLY changed.

But this thing stayed.

Because it was THE THING. The inspiration.

I've been writing around it. I've been cutting things that lead up to it. I've been imagining the "I don't really believe she would do this" comments from people.

And...well, I finally accepted it had to go.

It took me a long time to be okay with that, and I think part of this is me finally dealing with my fear. I've been holding on to this element because I'm scared to let it go and scared to really move forward, and, om some level, scared to do what it takes to make this story the best it can be.

I'm doing it, though! I'm doing it! I'm killing those darlings! Watch me go!

The funny thing is, it's really not a huge deal in the big picture of my story. And I'm not totally taking it out. Just changing it a little bit. I'm just feeling like being a little dramatic on a Monday, I guess.

Do you have a hard time letting go of those special things in your stories? 


  1. I have a VERY hard time of letting things go in my stories! My novel that I'm in the process of editing has changed so much from what I originally thought it would be. It's sad because the inspiration I had for it was really cool, but the only way to make the story better is to cut all of that out!

  2. I'm totally in the same revising place as you... it's such a challenge to change what was originally the ESSENCE of your manuscript! I'm trying to stay in the it'll-be-so-much-stronger mindset, but geez... it's so hard sometimes!

  3. Good luck with killing thos darlings!

  4. We all have a point in our work that we face this situation. It's not easy for me to give up on a major element.

  5. I followed the link back to your Fear post and found myself nodding along with it. It's hard to be vulnerable, and I think at essence, that's what the creative process is really about. Thanks for sharing your insights and your struggle!

    And, good luck!

  6. It's very brave of you. I'm a continually-in-denial kind of person. I just won't admit it. I need to kill them sometimes and I can't!

  7. I think it should be hard to lose elements of our stories. If we don't find it difficult, then we just don't care enough, frankly.

  8. Good for you for going for it! I just wrote out an entire character because he was doing nothing for my story. It was a very hard thing to do because I liked him. Whatever. Off with his head! ;-)

  9. Kill it! Your story will be better for it!

    And I definitely have a hard time letting go. I had a hard time literally killing a character in my old MS (even though it was, uhm, my idea), and then had a hard time accepting the idea that it was better to keep him alive when someone suggested it. There are a LOT of darlings in my new MS, though...and I'm not at the killing stage yet (though I have already lost a character).

    Anyway...we should start a support group or something.

  10. eep. I don't know if I have your kind of courage when it comes to the slaughter of my characters.

  11. YES! I hate killing off scenes and characters I've fallen in love with. But sometimes sacrifices must be made, no matter how much it hurts. And it's funny. Usually after I do something like that, it's amazing how much better the story becomes. Usually.

  12. I hear ya sista! Sometimes I get so attached to something I feel like I'm losing a limb by taking it out, and then when it's gone I feel that "Ahhh" like I've cleaned out a closet.

  13. Good for you! I haven't had to cut anything major yet in my revision but I'm sure that time will come eventually. It is tough to let those darlings go!