The Joy of Killing Your Darlings

killyourdarlings

Oh, those cute little darlings. We’ve all got them. All those precious words that mean so much to you but make it harder for your writing to breathe. And harder for your readers to digest.

Life is busy. Time goes fast. Patience runs thin.

So if you want your material read or listened to – story, song, speech, depending on what you’re writing – do your readers or listeners a service and tell them only what they need to hear.

So take a deep breath. Find your darlings. And cut them out.

You might have a little heart attack, but the faster you do it, the faster you’ll recover. And once you recover from killing your precious darlings, you’ll find that your work breathes easier, sounds clearer.

When I kill my darlings, I see all sorts of words I don’t need.

So take a deep breath. And cut it. You might have a little heart attack, but the faster you do it, the faster you’ll recover. And once you recover from killing your precious darlings, you’ll find that your work breathes easier, sounds clearer.

Those adjectives? Kill most of them. You don’t need to describe everything. Leave a bit to the imagination – your readers will get it.

Tangents? Where are you going?

Keep it focused – if you must wander, keep it focused on your message – don’t wander too far.

Then do it again. I still see words I don’t need. Take your pen – oh, so mightier than the sword – and slash that stuff out. Lose the adverbs. (Those are usually words that end in –ly. Very is one of them too. Seriously, adverbs really make writing way wordier than it needs to be….if you know what I mean?) J

Don’t say the same thing twice. If it’s the chorus in a pop song, you can get away with the same line five times, but prose? No.

Don’t use different words to say the same thing. Life is short – don’t waste your time. Don’t waste your readers’ time.

Then do it again.
You’ll find more excess wordage. Cut it out.

Then do it again.

At this point, you might want to caffeinate, curse or cry. I choose to caffeinate. Love coffee – you know you’re a writer when you’ve got a coffee addiction, right?

Brew your soothing cup of coffee, head back to your desk, look at your writing and clean it up.

Read through it after.

Chances are, it’s now a lot tighter and easier to read.

Was that so bad?

Take another sip of coffee.

So the next time you want your writing to flow better?

Kill your darlings.

I dare you.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s