Friday, June 11, 2010
kill your darlings
When you’re deep into a manuscript, maybe working through it the first time after the initial draft, there are scenes you love and points of character and plot that must change even though you don’t want them to. A first draft is going to be full of wrong turns.
What I found myself doing as I was reworking a manuscript, or I should say caught myself doing, was trying to keep something that happened to a character and that revealed character because I liked it. I think I knew, deep down, it was wrong but I wanted to keep it so I wrote another scene and another scene to justify its place in the manuscript. BUT all I was doing was taking myself further and further off-course.
So here’s my point: the old Faulkner advice, “Kill your darlings” is sometimes true. I think you have to pay attention to your feeling that a manuscript might be heading in the wrong direction or that a scene you really love might be distorting some aspect of a story and even leading you in the wrong direction. A novel, to get where it’s going, needs to be heading down the right roads. I don’t know that I would agree with Faulkner but I would, at least, say BE AWARE or BEWARE of your darlings.
Or so I think today.