Monday, November 3, 2014

Kill Your Darlings

Okay, so that title is definitely not one of my more creative ones, but it should bring to mind that popular phrasing that many people use in terms of rewriting.

That's right, guys, kill them all.

Well, maybe "all" is a bit of an overstatement, but ya'll get what I'm saying, right? I'm not even talking about killing characters, either. I mean, kill any and every part of your manuscript that needs to disappear in order to make your novel stronger.

Is it going to be probably the most painful thing you've ever done? Probably. Will it make you want to bang your head against the wall when you're trying to rework your novel around this new, empty space? Most definitely.

But it's necessary.

This post is coming to you because I've recently started rewriting my WIP. I'm only on chapter three, which might sound like some good headway but in the past three weeks that's only been about 2,500 words. Yes, I am slightly ashamed of that number, and my only excuse is that school is killing me right now. But I hate using excuses because, in my world, there simply is no excuse for some things.

So I've been hanging my head in shame and getting in a few minutes of rewrites when I can.

The point is: I'm stuck on chapter three. It opens pretty quietly, so there's a lot of narrative. The problem I realized is that I simply take too long to get my character up and moving, and I take about 500 words, restating the same concept in different ways.

Like, I get it, Rae. The poor girl fell off a building, of course she's going to be in pain.

Part of my problem comes from the fact that some of the description is of my character. I mean, she's bionic. Her body heals differently.

Then again: come on, Rae, do you really need 500 words to do that?

So that's the "darling" I'm personally trying to kill right now. Not my character (she survived falling off a building, guys; killing her would be really hard to do), but, in this case, my words, themselves. My narrative. Because reading those words was kind of painful and currently I'm trying to figure out what the hell was going through my mind at the time that I wrote it.

And yes, it will be hard. Trying to cut things down or cut things out is supposed to be complicated; it disrupts the flow of everything you've already written and everything that you're mercifully sparing from your editing pen of death.

Write a lovely eulogy, cut out the extra pieces, and just know that the sacrifice you're making is going to make your novel stronger as a whole. And maybe stock up on the coffee and chocolate because damn, trying to wrap your mind about exactly how to cut something and still have your novel make sense is freaking hard.

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Kill your darlings, and maybe keep some chocolate around to keep you sane. @Rae_Slater talks trimming your novel (Click to Tweet)

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