Darlings done in: May 20, 2018

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“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”

William Faulkner

Yep, we got it, Will. Do those darlings in. What counts as darlings? The (flowery, purple or otherwise unnecessary) prose in our stories, poems, and blog posts we just can’t let go–but know we must.

On today’s editing room floor, as it were:

“He fantasized about how he would greet Kate after three days away. He would sweep his wife into his arms like one of her matinee idols might.”

Um. Fantasy–in my historical novel manuscript? If it’s not happening, it’s not staying. Cut!

Here’s another. (The trouble with writing a historical novel is that there’s just sooo much interesting history. But, one must remember that it’s a novel, not a textbook.)

“In the nineteenth century, coal was discovered in the hills, and easterners brought industry, almighty steel, to the west…”

Cut! (And that “almighty steel” might be a contender for “purple prose.”)

No one said revision and editing would be easy. If a section, paragraph, or phrase is especially dear to me, I will save it–in a file on my computer or in a jar where I keep actual slips of paper with cut phrases on them. (Sometimes fodder for story prompts, sometimes a good joke, sometimes both.)

In this way you can revive your darlings like writer K.M. Allan. Don’t fear when it’s time to slash and burn your way to a better manuscript. Happy revising!

What’s your favorite revising or editing tip?