The advice to ‘kill your darlings’ or ‘kill your babies’ is dispensed so often in writing circles that it ranks among the most over-used writing clichés (right up there with ‘show, don’t tell’).
What it means is that you need to be ruthless in your willingness to cut sections of your writing that don’t work to strengthen it — even if it’s some of your favorite stuff. If it doesn’t serve the piece overall, it’s got to go.
But I like to take this advice in a second way: as a directive to treat your favorite characters just as ruthlessly as your favorite sentences. You need to put them through Hell, run them through the ringer, and — if it serves the piece as a whole — kill ‘em too. Read the rest of this entry »