Heh, thought that would get your attention. Now… don’t worry, I’m not talking about cornering people in dark alleys and dealing them some terrible stabby-stabby (though writing about such things is not uncommon in my stories). No, I’m talking about ‘murdering my darlings’ a phrase that has leapt up and wedged itself neatly into the blogging world over the last couple of days.
I’m not usually one to hop onto the bandwagon when it comes to blog topics, but I’m so fascinated by this one, that I couldn’t help myself.
This isn’t a new phrase, by the way. I’ve heard it plenty of times before and always thought it was a great way to describe the editing process. Indeed it often feels like murder when I’m pouring over my words and deciding which ones have to go because they slow the plot down, or because they don’t make sense, or because… just because! If I have a feeling about a sentence or a phrase, something I can’t explain, but that I know is bad, I have to get rid of it. My editing skills are still improving all the time, but I still have some work to go in being totally confident in it. Despite that, I have learned to trust the movements of my gut. Its often right. Its sometimes the twins, but they have very strong opinions too, apparently.
There are a few posts I’ve read from other fine people who have lovely ideas with regards to this murder idea. My favourites are:
There are more – I know – there are, but, typically I can’t find them. So, once I do, I’ll add them into this list. *sigh* I really should log my ‘liked blog posts’ better than this.
This murdering thing is something I’m particularly bad at. Its one of the reasons I take so long in editing anything at all. Leaving my work for a couple of weeks to get some distance over it isn’t enough. I need to leave it for months to get the proper distance I require. Even now I think I’m just about far enough removed from SORB, with enough other projects in between, to take on the feedback that’s on its way from my readers. Then I’ll polish that baby up into something that’s ready to meet the world.
I have characters, ideas and phrases that I’ve fallen in love with and they really, really are darlings of mine. I look at them and feel a warm glow at producing something so awesome, or funny, or dark, or erotic, or gross, that I can’t bare to take it out. Then I look at the piece as a whole, whether that be by paragraph, chapter or whole piece and realise that my most loved treasure just doesn’t belong there.
I remember when I first hacked a paragraph out of SORB. An entire paragraph! I felt sick afterwards and had to lie down. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but that’s nothing compared to the following day when I took out a chapter. A whole freaking chapter! And then the following day, I found a character that, though lovely, did nothing at all for the story. So he went too. The process did get easier as time progressed, but it still felt like hacking off a limb each time something came out.
I’m going to have to grow a thicker skin or learn how to grow back various body parts if I’m going to keep at this writing thing. Its the only profession in which daily murder is not only expected, but required (except assassination I suppose). But do you know what…? Its okay; because the work will be better for it.