Tag Archive for: Killing our darlings

Clicking Our Heels – Killing Our Darlings

At some time, every writer has to kill his/her darlings. Here’s how different members of The Stiletto Gang deal with this onerous task.

Dru Ann Love – Luckily, I don’t have to deal with that, but as a reader, I’m not a happy camper when a main protagonist or favorite secondary character is killed. I’ve been known to stop reading a series because of that.

Debra H. Goldstein – Moaning, groaning, cursing, and almost crying, I kill my darlings. The only good thing is that the end they meet is swift.

Saralyn Richard – Killing my darlings (as in characters) is one of the biggest challenges I have in writing. Most of the time, my victims are characters I love dearly. (After all, I’ve created them to be exactly the way I want them.) One of my books, written in third person close POV, takes the POV character through some exceptionally rough times. I identified so closely with her that I felt every slap and sting. I kept telling myself that she would get through this–and so would I.

Donnell Ann Bell – I  don’t ever throw anything completely out. Call me a pacifist, but I have a draft file, where I simply imprison unused material. You never know when my muse might say, “Remember a certain passage? It might fit here.”

Robin Hillyer-Miles – Years of working as a civilian graphic designer for the US Navy helped me kill darlings left and right without a care in the world. (Though I do save them in a separate file, just in case.)

Gay Yellen – Sadly, I’ve had to toss two entire subplots in the upcoming book after I realized they weren’t serving the main story.

Barbara Eikmeier – I put them in a document file labeled “cut scenes” so I can visit them whenever I want.

Kathryn LaneIt’s still painful to kill scenes, characters, etc. but I’m getting better about it. I try to think about moving the story forward and that makes me realize (sometimes) when a favorite scene/topic/dialogue/character is not needed.

Anita Carter –

Lois WinstonI’m ruthless. If something isn’t working and can’t be fixed—whether a plot point, a character, dialog, or a scene—I cut it. If I think it might have potential in another book at some point, I’ll save it to a folder of orphaned words. Often, though, I simply hit the DELETE key. I’ve killed many a darling over the years and will probably kill many more in the years to come.

Lynn McPherson – That’s a toughie. I remind myself the goal is to have the best story I can write, so if that means someone has to go, I try to remember they served their purpose and got the story to where it is now.

Linda Rodriguez – I have a file on my computer that’s just called CUTS. I toss any cut paragraphs or scenes or chapters into this file, so they’re saved for later if I need them. I’ve never needed them for that same work, although I have sometimes rescued scenes or characters from the CUTS file to use in a different project.

Mary Lee Ashford – In general, I don’t have a problem with killing my darlings. If it’s not working, it’s got to go. However, there have been scenes that I’ve saved to an “Outtakes” folder on my computer because I knew they needed to be cut, but I really like them and thought they might have a use later on in the story. Or I thought that they could perhaps be reworked and be used in a later book. Over the years, I’ve found that those “darlings” are seldom useable, but it still makes me feel better to set them aside in a folder than kill them off completely.

T.K. Thorne – I deal with it by saving what I have and starting another version. That way, I can always go back to that “darling” and use it or pull from it.  I never do, but it’s there with gives me a sense of security. 🙂  In every case, so far, I have liked the fresh version better.

Anita Carter I’m brutal. I don’t struggle with the delete button. LOL But when I throw out a scene or a fun sentence, I paste it into a “deleted stuff” Word document.

Bethany Maines – That is so hard!  I do save my deleted scenes in separate documents.  Sometimes I can work them in later, but sometimes that’s just what I tell myself so that I’ll actually delete them. But sometimes, the story changes and I have to pursue what is best for my story.  I do think that the more I write, the more callous I become to this problem. I think partially because I’ve become more of a plotter so that I write fewer scenes that require deletion.

Shari Randall/Meri Allen – Killing my darlings kills me! I work with an excellent editor, and time and again, I’ve seen that her suggestions to kill those darlings have made the story better. I’m philosophical about it now, but still, it hurts.