Stop Killing Your Darlings.

A common piece of editing advice I see all the time is :

Kill off your darlings. Don’t be scared to remove chunks of your work, even if it feels precious to you.

I say if it’s a passage that’s you have been told you don’t need but it is really hard to part with, try using it somewhere else. Don’t destroy it or erase it. You won’t remember how you worded it weeks or months later.

Save it so you can enter it later in your piece or if you are doing a series use for another book.

Remember, you the writer is who dreaming up the manuscript. Not the editor. No one knows exactly how it goes except you.

Don’t merciless butcher your work. Remember, you are writing a novel not a pamphlet to sell a timeshare.

Ok, if it was unimportant it wouldn’t be called a darling and the author wouldn’t have put it in manuscript. Quite contrary to belief, most writers seek to use as little words as possible.

I often see slain darlings throughout novels and it leaves a novel with more holes than Swiss cheese and the editor try to fill in all the gaping holes with emotions.

Don’t do it.

Don’t try and plug holes with a bunch of whining and crying, falling and stumbling. Emotions are very important to build a crescendo but too many drags a story down.

Edith Wharton in The Age of Innocence is a good example of why you ‘don’t’ kill off your darlings. Why you need to go into some depths to display many different sides of your character. I mean these were a bunch of self-serving American aristocrats but she gave her readers a full dose of her darlings with the opening scene of opera setting and seating. Who sat where and why.

About unholypursuit

A. White, an award winning former librarian, who is also a long time member of Romantic Time and Publisher's Weekly. A. White has been writing for over fifteen years. She took classes in creative writing in college, specializing in ancient myths and legends. and later at a local community center while living in Chicago. In college she won the national contest to verbally list every country in the world, it's capital and ingenious language. Her works are mainly horror, fantasy, extreme, and sci-fi as well as, as some may says, "the truly strange predicament and puzzling." Books that I've written are "Clash with the Immortals, and eleven others which are part of the "Unholy Pursuit saga,". She has been working on the Chronicles since 2007. She wished to complete them all before introducing them to public so the readers wouldn't have to for the continuation to be written. The ideas of the book come from classic literature such as whose work greatly influence the world world such as Homer, Sophocles, Herodotus, Euripides, Socrates, Hippocrates, Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle and many more. The "Book of Enoch" influenced the usage of Azazael as a main character and love interest. I created the primary main character from the Chronicle of Saints. I wanted to show them as real flesh and blood with thoughts, desires and yearning as any human. Not as they are so often depicted. So I created one of my own to show her as a real human that everyone can relate to.
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6 Responses to Stop Killing Your Darlings.

  1. Hiram says:

    Nothing kills a good story faster killing off all the darlings too soon.


  2. Bernard says:

    I don’t like the fact that every other book I have read is obsessed with death. I think too many think it’s a nice way to tie up a story but it’s becoming too typical. Before you finished the book you know the character is going to die.


    • Thanks for giving a reader point of view.
      You are right. That ending is too typical. I don’t think readers mind it occasionally but I don’t think they want to read it in every book they read. doesn’t mind.


  3. Vertigo Review says:

    I, too, agree there are many ways to end a story without turning the ending into a blood bath.


    • I think death scenes only works well for horror genres. All others, I think needs another ending unless the narration of the story is leading up to a death. Besides in the light of the recent events—-it’s a good idea to curb all the bloodletting.


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