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?

 

 

Kill your inklings

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I’m playing fast and loose with the English language today, redefining inkling as: a little inking, or a bit of writing, a literary snippet, if you will. This post is in response to today’s Daily Prompt: Inkling.

Rust Belt Girl followers know where I am in my journey toward traditional book publishing. Rather than call myself stalled in editing, I’d like to say I’m at a rest stop along the journey–one of those rest stops with a fabulous overlook. Only, I’m not looking out onto rolling farmland or a lake vista. I’m looking over my WIP (a historical novel manuscript) and trying to do more than edit. I’m trying to genuinely revise–or re-see–my story.

This requires brutality.

This requires killing my inklings, my snippets of lovely language that don’t move the story forward, that don’t evolve the characters, that maybe draw too much attention to themselves.

Today’s dead inkling:

Pregnancy had meant an intense inversion, feeling sensations from the inside—hosting, feeding, growing this glorious parasite.

In the days of printing out drafts–huge reams of paper–I would actually snip this snippet and put it in a jar I have for such things. Then, if I felt blocked or needed a prompt for a new story, I would select one and start from there. Today, my dead inklings wind up getting lost in my Mac world.

William Faulkner is credited for “kill your darlings,” and there’s been discussion about that phrase and other great writing advice here at WP this week.

But, now I’m getting down to it: slashing and burning.

What’s your favorite dead inkling?